Another guest post by Danielle Applestone.
Background: Rhett is my 4.5 year old son. We’ve just moved to a new city, and haven’t quite found the right childcare option. We aren’t religious in any organized sense, and definitely not Lutheran, but the folks at the neighborhood Lutheran school seemed to be competent and caring (and their school was very clean), so he is going there for the summer.
When I drop Rhett off for school, I feel like 1 part undercover agent, 1 part curious alien, 1 part worried mother. In the mornings, they have a gathering time for some type of story or information transfer and songs. I never had been to a bible school or ‘Sunday school’ before taking Rhett to this Lutheran place, but I realized today that bible school is where the transmission of all the religious lore must begin for most religious people. And at the core of the transmission is the songs. The songs are where the seeds of religion are totally sown. It makes sense though, you can get kids to brush their teeth, clean up their room, be gentle with one another as long as you say it with a catchy little jingle.
I used to be really apprehensive about religion as a child because I was totally outcast for being a non-believer in my small, totally christian community. No birthday party invites…scary letters saying my parents were going to hell…..that kind of thing. My apprehension has basically dwindled down to nothing at this stage in my life, enough to where I’m ready to simply observe. (Maybe my guard is just down??)
What I have observed so far from the Lutheran school is the following:
1. Caring about your environment and all the plants and animals is important.
2. Knowing where your food comes from is important.
3. There is nothing to worry about because if all else fails, Jesus loves you and God is there for you.
4. Love everyone.
And basically, all of the songs and crafts and lessons my son has experienced so far at the Lutheran school are to illustrate one of these four things. Nobody says anything like, “if you’re gay or you get an abortion, you’re going to hell.” So it’s really pleasant. It’s like they are behaving as if, “well, for now, let’s just agree to disagree.” And really, at the core, we do agree. “We,” being the non-god-believers and the believers. The last thing I heard this morning was a song called Jesus’ Love, and I couldn’t agree more with the teacher’s message. Something about how you can’t put Jesus’ love in a box or bag or grave or heart, because it just comes bubbling through. The teacher ended with the message, “So remember Jesus’ love bubbling out of your heart when you’re angry with someone about anything.” “Jesus’ love can’t be contained, it’s everywhere for everyone and we’ve got to show Jesus’ love everyday.” “So give Jesus’ love to everyone you see or meet.”
I do feel like love is just continuously pouring out of me towards everyone I meet. It’s a really intense feeling sometimes. I could see how it might feel supernatural, like it’s not even my love, but some immense, inexhaustible source. And really, how could I disagree with a school full of children who are encouraged to show each other love even when they fight and disagree?