Monday, August 25, 2008

Baptism


(The Guardian [Queen] of Water from the Gaian Tarot, by Joanna Powell Colbert)


Still no internet connection at the new homestead, so blogging hasn't been possible. That should change today. Also, things have been a bit hectic while trying to get settled in the new house.

My dad called Sunday morning and said, "is it true that you're not going to baptize your kid?" Oh boy. Talking to my mom later that morning, she said, oh yeah, he's really upset about that, he keeps saying "that's the final straw, I'm disowning her." (What you need to know about my blustery but very loving parents: they would never disown me. Dad threatened to disown me for having a child outside of legal wedlock, but then he helped us with the down payment for our new house, so you can see how that goes. They adore Adonis, and my mom says that we have the best marriage of anyone she knows--except for the part where we're not married.) Both my parents would prefer that we have the baby baptized. My sister, who is a formidable advocate for us, told them that I wasn't going to do things the way they would have me do them, so they just have to suck it up and let it go. My mom is actually kind of adjusting to this idea. Oh but it's difficult for me, the oldest and always a good girl, to "let them down" by doing things my own way.

Why not baptize the baby? Well, there is the obvious reason that Christianity is not my religion anymore. But that's not my main reason. I would even consider baptizing my baby for my parents' sake if I could get past the symbolism of baptism. Yet I believe strongly in the symbolic value of ritual, and how ritual enactment in part constitutes reality. The ritual message of baptism is this: human beings are born innately sinful, in pain and blood from a woman's body, products of a sinful act; being born human, from sexual intercourse, and of a woman necessitates purification, the cleansing with holy water. And to this I say, bullshit. Human beings are not innately sinful. To be born in the midst of blood, sweat, shit, and ecstasy is a holy thing.

I like the idea of an elemental blessing. I imagine that at a Wiccaning or Pagan baby naming ceremony, though I've never attended one, the child is blessed with earth and fire, water and air. In becoming human we become one with the elements, and to enact that symbolically seems a good thing. So we'll have a ceremony, and there will be a sacred cup filled with water, but the ritual will be something altogether other than a Christian baptism.

9 comments:

Angela Raincatcher said...

I've done a few baby blessings for mixed families with the intent of introducing the baby into the community -- including family, the elements, the gods, the ancestors, and local land spirits. Many of the family members who were Christian, but of the relaxed variety, were just happy to have a ceremony blessing the baby. There is a depth of meaning in that idea above and beyond (or perhaps below and deeper?) than the dogmatic reasoning behind baptism.

But I, too, would go for a baby blessing rather than baptism any day -- especially for the reason you cite.

chavala said...

I agree - you can have a lovely baby blessing which includes water (and the other elements) but in a way that affirms the holiness, not sinfulness, of birth.

sabrinam82 said...

I applaud you for sticking to your principles AND for exploring a way to bless your baby that both you and your parents can value. I love it when families realize that spirituality doesn't have to be a zero-sum game!

Blessings,
Sabrina

Cat Chapin-Bishop said...

Would a baby blessing in which your father held a role be of help? Perhaps the most moving part of a baptism for an infant is the promise on the part of newly designated godparents to assist the parents in the spiritual formation of the child.

It sounds as though your parents likely will have a great deal of influence on Adonis's values as he grows, and probably he will be exposed to Christianity through his relationship with them. Perhaps it might be helpful to recognize your parents' place here in ritual, along with dear Pagan friends also likely to play a strong role in forming Adonis's character, as god/goddess parents. Perhaps vows could be written which recognize their intention to help bring your son closer to Spirit (in the forms they understand it by)?

A progressive UU or even Christian minister, or a Pagan clergy member who has dealt with such ceremonies before, might be helpful, too.

Interfaith interfamilias... Not always easy.

(Good luck settling into your new home.)

Inanna said...

Thank you, all, for your comments and ideas. I've been struggling with whether or not to have my parents at the baby blessing--would it comfort them or freak them out? But you all give good reasons for having them there. They might be uncomfortable in some ways, but it's not like they're fundamentalists; they won't think what we're doing is morally wrong. I think my dad's approach to Christianity and the baptism is pragmatist, in addition to being sentimental. That is, given that if Christianity is right, the unbaptized aren't saved, why not baptize a kid just in case Christianity is right? That sort of thing. Covering one's spiritual ass.

I know a UU minister who works at the local university; I think I'll go talk with her about possibilities.

We do want to have a very Pagany Wiccaning, likely in addition to a ceremony that would include my parents. We've asked my sister to be the child's Goddessmother and a dear friend (who's a Radical Faery) to be the Faery Godfather.

The child will certainly be exposed to Christianity as s/he grows up, and that's okay with me, especially since it'll be the more liberal, inclusive kind. My partner's brother and his family are Jewish, as are many of our friends, and I like the idea of my kid having an ecumenical childhood. Ultimately, s/he will choose her/his own path.

And just as a point of clarity: "Adonis" is my partner's nom de blog--it's kind of silly, I know. We don't know the sex of the baby, and won't till it's born, though several people do think we're having a boy. We have no conclusive evidence, though.

Diana said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Diana said...

Hi there, I came across your blog a while ago and have enjoyed reading it. I just wanted to say I think you're right in standing up for your beliefs with your baby and a baptism. It takes a lot of strength to stand up to your parents! Kudos to you for that!

Good luck with the new house!

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Hecate RavenMoon said...

Blessed be.

It may freak them out just a little only because they are venturing into unfamiliar territory. But it will all work out just fine, and they will be pleased that your daughter has been blessed.

That is an absolutely gorgeous Tarot card. I would love to have a deck like that. I currently have the Goddess Oracle deck which is absolutely beautiful.

Have a great week and good luck.