One of the most challenging things about leaving the faith of your parents, is raising their grandchildren as freethinkers.
Freethinkers who have come from evangelical homes, like myself, know the intense social pressure that comes from their extended family. This is especially true when the grandparent believes you’re leading their grandchildren straight to hell!
There’s a song by David Bazan – someone who has also gone through a major faith transition – that fully understands the position that freethinking parents find themselves in. His song, Bearing Witness, captures exactly how I feel as a parent, but also repurposes religious vernacular to offer encouragement to those who have chosen a rational and logical belief system, and parenting style.
I clung to miracles I have not seen
From ancient autographs I cannot read
And though I’ve repented
I’m still tempted, I admit
But it’s not what bearing witness is
Too full of prophecy and fear to see
The revelation right in front of me
So sick and tired of trying to make the pieces fit
Because it’s not what bearing witness is
When the gap between
What I hoped would be
And what is makes me weep for my kids
I take a cleansing breath
And make a positive confession
But is that what bearing witness is
Though it may alienate your family
And blur the lines of your identity
Let go of what you know
And honor what exists
Son, that’s what bearing witness is
Daughter, that’s what bearing witness is
The last paragraph is the most powerful statement for me. Every parent that has experienced a transition from make believe to freethinking, has felt the alienation from their family, and initial blurring of their identity. For me, it includes a loss of intimacy. I no longer have the ability to talk deeply or philosophically with my parents, because the foundation of our belief system and world views are so deeply opposing.
I feel fortunate and hopeful though, because I’m in the unique position to help stop the superstitious beliefs that have accompanied my family lineage for as long as anyone can remember. Bazan put that reality into a more concise statement, by naming his album Curse Your Branches.