Sunday, October 04, 2015

Help Us Save the Planet People!

Help Us Save the Planet People
The original plan when we had kids was for us to attend mass once a month as a family, meeting once a month as a family, and that the kids and I would pray for Allen in the off weeks. Contrary to the lessons you learned from "The A-Team," sometimes a plan doesn't come together, and so for the first nine years of our parenting, the meeting part never happened.

I've been struggling with the mass part of late, however. DC is a pretty conservative diocese and has been flexing its political muscles on a series of issues that don't really reflect the values Allen and I want to impart on our kids. I thought after Pope Francis was inaugurated, maybe things would improve, and while I think on some level they have, his message of acceptance hasn't really been embraced by the kids' Sunday School coordinator.

So after a particularly frustrating Sunday morning in which the coordinator stated that, "science comes and goes, but God is forever" and informed us that I was expected to take a seminar on "Parenting for Purity" (I attended, but declined the helpful brochures and free CDs), I contacted Owen's friend Gabriel's mom, Megan, who attends the Friends Meeting of Washington and arranged to meet up with them on Sunday.

I don't believe that God takes sides in religions, but if I did, I would have to say that God was clearly favoring the Quakers this past Sunday. While Allen grew up with "First Day School" taking place after a lengthy period of silent worship in the meeting house, The Washington Friends start with it. The kids were handed snacks, allowed to draw and Nora even got to blow out a candle before being informed that the day's topic would be global warming: how does it impact the earth, and what we wanted the United Nations' 21st Session of the Conference of Parties to do about it when they meet in Paris this December. And also that the kids would be making a video describing their concerns that would be then sent to Paris.

Allen, who is rarely moved by the spirit, volunteered to lead the discussion and film one of the videos. Owen and Nora embraced Gabriel's suggestion that they focus on the impact on animals. Owen started drawing animals that are endangered (such as the Tasmanian tiger) while Nora focused on those long since departed (a t-rex complete with volcano). Owen and Gabriel then took turns narrating the video, culminating with an exasperated Nora shouting, "Help us save the planet, please! I'm begging you!" Then after 45 minutes of this, we joined silent worship for 5-10 minutes after which the kids stood up and explained to the meeting what they had done and what they were trying to convey in their videos.

Then they ate cookies and played outside.

Nora is ready to convert. Owen thinks we should split our time. Allen is being characteristically silent on the subject. We're clearly going back to meeting, but we'll still split our time going to mass and Sunday school as well. At least for now.

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