Week 29: Sweeping the Faith

We’ve been discussing the big questions about child-rearing. Will we spank our child? Will we leave him or her in daycare? How will we raise the kid, ideologically speaking? When you’ve got a mixed marriage, that last one is a minefield. What set of beliefs do we instill in our child when we grew up with entirely different belief systems, different histories, different everything? Does one of us convert? Do we make a choice for the child? When? Does the child choose? When? The questions go on and on.

Sarah and I are both Jewish, so that’s good, but we’ve got bigger problems to worry about. She’s a Cubs fan, and I’m a White Sox guy…

We’ve been discussing the big questions about child-rearing. Will we spank our child? Will we leave him or her in daycare? How will we raise the kid, ideologically speaking? When you’ve got a mixed marriage, that last one is a minefield. What set of beliefs do we instill in our child when we grew up with entirely different belief systems, different histories, different everything? Does one of us convert? Do we make a choice for the child? When? Does the child choose? When? The questions go on and on.

Sarah and I are both Jewish, so that’s good, but we’ve got bigger problems to worry about. She’s a Cubs fan, and I’m a White Sox guy.

According to the smart people behind marriagebuilders.com, problems among interfaith couples with dissimilar backgrounds are fairly common. But sometimes in matters of faith, the chasm between you can be difficult to bridge. We’ve got the Grand Canyon of chasms right there. There must be a way for each of us to practice our faith while making room for the other’s faith (or lack thereof).

But how? According to Dr. Willard F. Harley, the psychologist guru behind Marriagebuilders.com, the process is straightforward: you’ve set ground rules, remain nonjudgmental, and brainstorm solutions until you find one that works for you.

I decided to give Harley’s method a whirl while Sarah and I were enduring a rain delay at Wrigley Field during the annual Sox-Cubs cross-town series. “You do realize that fetus that you’re nurturing in your womb is going to be a Sox fan,” I said.

Sarah snorted. “No kid of mine. You may as well give him a mullet and a firearm.”

“Baseball allegiance is based on patrilineal descent,” I reasoned. “Our child should assume its father’s Sox loyalty—just as every Ruby has.”

Sarah almost dropped her peanuts. “I’m going to pretend I didn’t hear that. The White Sox suck.”

“The Sox suck? The Cubs invented sucking.”

Sorry, Harley. I tried.

I suggested that we teach the kid about baseball and let him or her decide. Sarah pooh-poohed that idea on the grounds that I would spend way more time instilling propaganda than she would.

She proposed that we buy the kid a Sox hat and a Cubs hat, and see which one he crawled to first, but that seemed stacked in the Cubs’ favor somehow, so I nixed it.

I threw this one out: whichever team finished with a better record this year would be the child’s team, but that didn’t work either. Neither of us trust our team enough to pull it out.

By the time the groundskeepers were removing the rain tarp from the field, we were no longer speaking to each other. I guess these kinds of complex theological problems can’t be solved in an afternoon. The important thing was that we were able to openly talk about our differences.

The Cubs swept the Sox that weekend, by the way. Crap.

As for the religion question, if this is a real sticking point for a couple, I recommend logging on to SelectSmart.com and checking out its Belief System Selector. It’s a short survey designed to help a person locate a faith group that corresponds to their religious and spiritual beliefs. I took it for fun, and was told that I should be a Unitarian or a Liberal Quaker. Sarah took it too, and despite her suspect taste in baseball teams, she was told the same thing.

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