My dog is a mutt, which makes him fit in quite well with our family. My husband is Jewish and I was brought up Catholic. Together, we are atheists/pagans/heretics/agnostic…we haven’t really figured out which yet, but we’ll decide some day.

Either way, you can’t really admit these things in public and ESPECIALLY… …if you have a child (which we do). My husband usually tells people that we celebrate the “fun holidays”—which refers to all the gift-getting and dress-up holidays like Christmas and Halloween. But that just seems shallow, doesn’t it?

I often tell people that my religion is volunteering. I like to volunteer my time to helping others who are worse off than me. Awww, aren’t I a gem? Don’t think too highly of me, I have yet to volunteer on a consistent basis, so it’s not something that has been permanently added to our family’s monthly calendar or anything. But, I’m working on it. Guess you can compare me to all those people who just go to church on Easter and Christmas.

My dog has no religion that I know of—although he has been known to worship me. He follows my every move, lies at my feet (which I must admit, I like), and looks to me to dictate his next move. It can be quite flattering. But being idolized does have its down side—poor Timmy doesn’t seem to be able to think for himself and just seems lost without his flock…I mean, pack.

What baffles me is the real pressure we humans feel to join a specific religion. To take sides. To bring our kids up something—like their souls and moral compasses will be forever in limbo until we decide what we “are”.

I’ll never forget when my daughter came home from kindergarten to say that a boy from her class told her she could not celebrate Christmas AND Hanukah!  Well, didn’t I tell my daughter to march right back to school the next day tell him that he was way off-base in his assumptions (na, na, na, na, na!). That you can celebrate both AND believe in neither all at the same time!  Whether I choose to bring up my daughter confused or narrow-minded is my choice, right?

Like any good web surfing junky, I’ve looked into the pros and cons on this issue and have found a few fun facts on both sides of the coin. First, this interesting article on a study from 2007 that declared  religion is good for kids. Umm, ok…but kind of vague, don’t you think? I mean tell me which religion is better. Tell me how often I have to participate. And tell me: how good is good?

On the flip side, this recent CBS news story reports that nearly half of Americans today have left the church they grew up with.  So, should I just wait for the best sales pitch and choose a religion at a later date? I mean free child care, free after school programs, good social networking opportunities…all very good selling points, I must admit, but that whole drinking the Kool Aide thing is where I get hung up.

Does all this mean my kid is either destined to life of crime or to grow up secretly hating whichever church we choose (she’s bound to hit those teenage years, right)?

(sigh) I’m certainly not any closer to proclaiming any allegiance to a specific church just yet. Honestly, I kind of like having it both ways. I secretly like being the rebel. And all of my daughter’s friends are totally jealous (which makes me super cool).

I think my dog has the best approach: don’t stress, wait for someone to pick you up when you are down (in his case, the shelter), and don’t look back. Certainly makes things seem simple doesn’t it? Incidentally, did you ever notice GOD spells DOG backwards?  And as my mutt puts his beloved ball back in my lap for another throw, I think…who’s worshiping whom here?

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