Quite honestly, I don’t even know what First Communion means. My former wife was brought up catholic (even though she was originally from Lebanon) and has been rather insistent on indoctrinating our recently turned nine-year old boy into the Catholic religion. As such, I was asked to join her and my son in his First Communion. Philosophically, I have no affiliation with the Christian or Catholic religion. The last two times I attended church included marriage and going way back my courting of a pretty young woman in high school. Although I think the bible provides advice or a moral guideline, I cannot commit to ideals that are wrapped in fantasy given what I know about the cosmos and so many other broad concepts. For instance, the idea of washing away sin through confession is completely foreign to me. If we commit an act that is clearly beneath us, there is no washing it away with a confession. We still committed the act and therefore should reflect on our behavior and correct it in the future. We should learn from our mistakes, but we can never simply make past decisions go away as if they never happened. Rather, we should embrace them and learn from them as a means to understand who and what we are and how to move beyond them.
As I sat uncomfortably through this ceremony, I made several observations. I noticed that many adults displayed an air of perfection, goodness, and self-righteousness. They seemed to illuminate a smug confidence that they knew what was the right course for themselves and their children. I wondered to myself what sins these perfect adults had committed in their life time and how they could appear so perfect believing they had washed their transgressions away via confessions. I observed the priest or whatever you call the head of the Catholic church put on his show for this grand event and I wasn’t surprised when he hit up the congregation for a donation to pay for increased taxes imposed on the church. But my broadest observation was how such an opportunity to bring people together under a beautiful structure was wasted on concepts and dogma that didn’t address the major issues we face as a human species. Instead, we have grown men dressed up in costumes exploiting cute little people all dressed up to raise funds for an institution that doesn’t confront truth and reality or seek out logical and informed solutions to the huge obstacles that are inhibiting our species from progressing forward.
I have expressed my personal beliefs on religion to my son. I told him there are hundreds of religions in the world and that the Christian or Catholic religions are merely a sample. I have told him that Jesus was a great “man” and that his being and all that he believed has been documented and described by others rather than Jesus himself. I have told him that I don’t know if there is a god and if there is a god I doubt that he made us in his image for the universe and or universes have an infinite array of images. All throughout the ceremony he kept looking at me and on occasion would laugh or smile. I didn’t sing the songs. I didn’t repeat or read the prayers. And he observed my behavior. I love him dearly. All I can do is offer an alternative for him to consider. In the end, it is his choice to believe or not to believe and seek out his own path.