"Jersey Shore is the greatest show ever!!"
"Stephanie Meyer is a literary genius." (Or some variation using 3rd grade vocabulary. "She write good books!" Stephen King agrees with me on this one.)
"**insert politician here** hates America and wants to destroy it!"
Other phrases do not do so much damage, but do make cringe internally and make a mental note to keep them in mind during future conversations. Some of these include:
"I hate speaking ill of others, but..." then proceed to speak ill of others.
"I can't wait to get out of here and get a beer!" (This one is only bad during certain situations, like school plays and job interviews.)
"God has a plan."
At this point, you may have come to a screeching halt and thought "WHAT?!?" so allow me to elaborate.
I think this is an idiotic concept. What? That wasn't enough elaboration? Fine!
The phrase "God has a plan" followed by "for me" is not as bad as when it is followed by "for you." This is something said when a tragic event occurs, such as a building collapsing on top of a cardboard box filled with puppies, especially puppies that you owned. While weeping among the wreckage, someone will come up to you, thinking they are being helpful and supportive and say "Don't be sad. God has a plan." They will then pat you on the back and walk away feeling amazing at the wonderful work they've done that day.
What I hear there is "God wanted to kill your puppies. He wanted their little lives crushed out under hundreds of thousands of tons of concrete, wood, glass and metal."
The people who use this phrase with the idea that it will bring comfort to people who are grieving. For some, it may work. For people who have devoted their lives (or a portion of their lives) to the church, or the mosque, or the temple, it is a reminder of where they have placed their faith. It is a comfort in time of need to be reminded that they are a part of something larger and more wonderful.
For others, however, it sounds more like "You are sad. You wouldn't be sad if you loved God more."
I know this isn't what they are saying and almost never what they imply, but this is how it sounds.
It's easier to smile and say "Thanks" than it is to get into a discussion about religious diversity.
God has a plan for my cuteness!
With this in mind, Sara and I had many long discussions before we had Harper about how to raise her in terms of religious traditions. Sara was raised Catholic, but doesn't really practice any more. I was raised Skeptical Jewish but now, I would have have to fill in the dot marked "None of the Above."
We wrote the wedding ceremony ourselves, selecting our favorite poems, songs and readings. We spent a few months in consultation with various priests, rabbis, shamans, witch doctors, etc., several of whom told us that unless we pick one tradition, our children would be hopelessly confused. One woman went so far as to tell us that unless one of us converted to the religion of the other, we shouldn't get married because some differences simply could not be overcome, no matter how much love exists.
We've decided that we're going to expose Harper (and future children) to our diverse backgrounds, taking special care not to imply that one is better than any other.
In my mind, spirituality exists to give comfort to people in time of need and help to explain things that we cannot understand. Religion is a collection of like-minded spiritual individuals who have found their comfort in similar concepts and rites.
To make an analogy, spirituality is the varied academic interests that people have in college while religion is there major.
We're not sure how this is going to work, but I have high hopes. I plan to teach Harper about the various religions of the world and teach her that no matter what she believes, she will always be our daughter and we will love her.
We will also teach her about religious tolerance, so that if she decides to be a Mormon, Jehovah's Witness, Catholic, Free Presbyterian, Locked-Up Presbyterian, Sun Worshiper, Maya, Inca, Jew, Muslim, Goat-Sacrificer, etc., she will still recognize that other people may not be any of those and that she should not tell other people how to live their lives.
I am a Mohawk Indian.
I am a Sun War-Shipper!!
I have a few more thoughts on this, but I'm rambling and there is bacon on the stove. God may have a plan, but if it doesn't include bacon, why should I care about it?