A House Divided…
In my community, like much of the South, one’s allegiance is judged based on two categories: where you go to church, and which sports team you support.
Given my “promiscuity” with Project Conversion and the fact that I’m not a huge sports fan, I’m not too much fun at social gatherings. Despite my social black sheep status, there are some distinctions in our household. For one, my wife and I met at East Carolina University and so are big supporters (her more than me) of the football program there. The other distinction is the religious one. My wife is a staunch, though very liberal, Christian. Because we (mostly she) home school our two daughters, the Bible is a tool through which she teaches the kids both a spiritual tradition and a base for character development. Each month, I teach the kids a little about the faith I am studying, usually via the holidays. So my daughters are getting a nice dose of interfaith education. What’s not to like?
The month of May.
The first four months of this experiment had at least some focus on God or some deity. I prayed to someone/thing, and in general I had a theistic outlook even before Project Conversion began. Buddhism, in most cases, is non-theistic. In some circles, it’s atheistic altogether.
Buddhism is my wife’s least favorite religion thus far for that very reason.
Because I empty myself at the beginning of every month so that I can fully absorb the next, I had to let go of my theistic tendencies in order to embrace Buddhism. That’s the special part of Project Conversion: I’m not just experimenting, I am becoming someone new every month. I expose myself to and shortly after “catch” the new bug.
As fate would have it, as difficult as Buddhism is…it’s probably my favorite month because there is no dependence on or belief in an all-powerful deity. This isn’t to say I haven’t enjoyed the other months. Sometimes, things just fit.
No, I am not converting and calling Project Conversion off early. Come the end of May, I will shed Buddhism like I’ve done with every faith in order to put on the garments of another, but this aspect of Buddhism has caused a challenge for our family because my wife isn’t comfortable with atheistic thought in general and especially when I start thinking/acting like one.
For May, I switched teams.
Wife: “How can you not believe in God? You believed before you started Buddhism…”
Andrew: “As a Buddhist, belief isn’t important. Only direct experience and testing of one’s effort toward Enlightenment is. There’s no room for blind belief.”
Wife: “But I’m not talking about Andrew the Buddhist, I’m talking about Andrew before Project Conversion.”
Andrew: “He no longer exists.”
We live in a house divided. I am convinced that my wife would have great difficulty living with a Buddhist. What happens if at the end of the year I actually pick a tradition? I can’t say with any certainty that such a thing will happen. In all likelihood I’ll play hard-to-get for the rest of my life, but just knowing the line is basically drawn in the sand with Buddhism is unnerving. I’ve struggled with this all month. I never thought something like this would become a discomfort–a line in the sand–in our home.
So I started thinking about other multi-religious homes. Do you belong to one? What religions (or maybe one is religious and the other isn’t) are represented in your home? Are there any conflicts? How do you live in peace? Where is the line drawn? What are the dynamics with your kids?
In the mean time, my wife is counting down the days to the end with enthusiasm. As for me, I’m a free agent and trying to detach from Team Buddhism…just like the Buddha taught me to do.