First of all, pardon my typing skills in previous posts. My HP computer and Windows Vista don’t seem to like this message board editing program. I am typing this in Word and hope it will be more readable.
With regard to family, there two hot-button news stories that come to mind. The first was the story about Elian Gonzalez, the second is the current story about Fatima Rifqa Bary, the runaway Muslim girl who converted from Christianity, who ran away from her Columbus home and was hidden for two weeks by a couple of evangelical pastors. Both involved the Florida Courts.
With regard to the Elian Gonzalez story, the child’s mother died and the issue was whether to return the child to his father in Cuba, or whether he was to stay in Florida. I was amazed how many people, especially evangelicals, came out to say that the child should remain in America. Again, I love America and all, but as I said, family is NUMBER ONE and it boggles my mind how anybody could deny a father the right to be reunited with his child only to score political points against Castro. Again, there is nothing more important than the family bond, government be damned. A similar story is going on with this Bary girl where these Evangelicals (on they Orlando Sentenel message boards they call them Talibangelicals) are making crazy claims that the mosque her parents go to in Ohio is a haven for radicals, and that if she is returned to Ohio she is at risk of being honor-killed. This, despite the fact that the local prosecutor said that in his 31 years in office, he had never heard of any honor killings ever occurring in the area, and despite the fact that both Florida and Ohio childrens services agencies have investigated and stated the parents are no threat. It seems to me that real Christians would want to get the family back together again, but then again that’s just my Old Country mentality, I guess. (I was also born in America, by the way.)
You are right about your statement about individuality, which kind of ties into my theory of why there are so many divorces in this country. How can you put the children first, when you are putting your own individual impulses and what makes you happy first. I don’t want to sound too pollannish, I know life isn’t perfect, but it is this sense of family and putting children first that is very dominant among Europeans, especially the further east you go. (I include Italy and Spain and even Germany in this group. The true farmer Germans I know that still have that mentality are also very strong family people.)
I think you hit the nail on the head when you touch on spirit ("dukha" or we call it “dusha”). I’m not saying we are perfect by any means, but I often found myself connecting better with other Eastern Europeans I met in college (Catholic, Byzantine or Orthodox) over the American kids I grew up with. There is a certain openness, a certain warmth I really love – you don’t have to talk serious, you can joke around and say almost anything – with white people you always have to watch what you say it seems like.
One final thought, and it kind of ties into this individuality thing, you mentioned about the converts and wanting to do everything by the book. Hey, I think it’s great that they want to join our club so don’t feel I am bashing you by any means. Given how many people marry off and disappear, we also need the new blood. That said, this whole concept of “choosing” a religion that’s right for you also makes me chuckle. We, and it sounds like you can say the same thing, grew up in a more goody-two-shoes environment than 99% of the holy-rollers out there. God and teaching us the right things was very important to my parents, but not necessarily church dogma (my family has always helped out the church, though). So my attitude is, I was born into it, it is part of my identity, it was part of the identity of my forefathers … that’s what I am. I don’t need to “shop around” for any particular dogma … it’s more about family with me. Maybe I’m wrong, but that’s how I feel and how I think the majority feels.
I kind of look at church this way, and I know I’m going to get beat up for this … But if you look at all the vestments, all the pomp and circumstance, to me it’s kind of all show. I don’t mean that in a bad way, I mean that in the way a judge wears a gown and a wig. If he was just some guy sitting at a table wearing shorts, the institution wouldn’t have much majesty. So, I’m content with knowing that the preist is there doing his thing, protecting the institution, keeping it alive, but I don’t look at it necessarily for any guidance. That’s what you’re supposed to get at home