Do They Have Any Mooring?

Last week was spring break.  We stayed home, and having my kids around all the time made it hard to post.  (I’m trying to keep this anonymous, remember.)  So I did a lot of reading instead.

I finished a book Prosey recommended, The Mommy Myth by Susan Douglas and Meredith Michaels.  Ay yi yi—that one was a doozy…

Now I am reading The Unlikely Disciple: A Sinner’s Semester at America’s Holiest University by Kevin Roose.  The book chronicles the experience of a Brown University sophomore who goes undercover at Liberty University.  Liberty is in our backyard, so to speak, and I was especially interested in reading this book because there have been quite a few students from M’s school who choose to attend college there.  The Big Popular Baptist Church encourages them to do so and field trips, retreats and camps with the youth group are regularly held on Liberty’s campus. 

So far I am only 29% through, but I am struck by the changes in perspective Roose experiences as he becomes more and more submerged in the atmosphere of fundamentalism.  Read what he says:

“But here’s the worrisome part: almost a month into my Liberty semester, I’m already starting to feel my beliefs shifting under my feet. Not my belief in evolution-I’ve stayed put on that-but when it comes to my general intellectual and emotional grounding, I’m feeling a little unmoored.”

I find this passage to be bone-chilling.  Roose is obviously very intelligent: he is a student from one of the top university’s in the country, raised by liberal, nonreligious parents.  He knows he’s there as an observant.  But the culture of Liberty still affects him dramatically.

As atheist parents, are our children unprepared for the world?  As a group (if you can call atheists that) it is my observation that we try to discourage the indoctrination of our children by presenting all sides and by encouraging critical thinking.  But is this enough?  Are we too tolerant? I wish there were more organizations –any organization– dedicated specifically to helping children navigate through the religious bullshit they encounter.


About Brick Window

A mother and an atheist--Just trying to do the best I can in a suburb full of believers.
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7 Responses to Do They Have Any Mooring?

  1. Jay Walker says:

    I don’t think we are too tolerant. I think Roose’s experience is unusual in the sense that he is in an intense program of indoctrination that you don’t find in most places. I liken it to basic training in the military. Having been though basic training myself, I understand how indoctrination works. Now, at Liberty, the methods are more subtle, but the effect is the same. You find yourself immersed in culture that tried to influence every aspect of your life. You are surrounded by people who support this culture. Ask most undercover cops or reporters and they will tell you just how hard it is to separate yourself from that kind of environment when you are living it 24×7.

    I think that the best we can do is arm our children with critical thinking skills and teach them how to find things out for themselves. Most of the things that our kids are going to be exposed to are not going to be anywhere near as intense as what Rosse is going through.

    I agree that there should be more organizations like that, but with the exception of Camp Quest, I don’t know of any.

  2. prosey says:

    I hope you enjoyed the Mommy Myth as much as I did…those women have a riotous sense of humor amid extremely serious information presentation.

    I’m with Jay about the too part. I think we (as atheist parents and individuals) are a tolerant as a situation allows – in the face of a society so deeply entrenched in religion that it lacks self-awareness and becomes the invisible vampire when the mirror is turned back on it. *sigh* How much kids are prepared for the realities outside of the next is a concern of parents of all generations (and all religious and nonreligious shades).

    I will look further into organizations, also…as time permits. I seem to recall a summer camp in Kentucky (!!! of all places) that was dedicated to science and secular humanism…but I can’t recall the name of it at the moment. Will get back with you on that.

    • Brick Window says:

      Thanks, Prosey. Yes, I loved the book. It was a lot to digest. I will be writing about it later, as my thoughts condense. It’s pretty shocking how much of myself I saw in the chapters about the 90s. Eeeegad!

      • prosey says:

        I know right??? I was able to SO identify with so many different things they presented – so much so that I went out of my way to buy an original copy of Betty Friedan’s “The Feminine Mystique” ~~ and found myself utterly shocked and appalled by how completely relevant and applicable what she wrote about in the 60s is today.

      • Brick Window says:

        I think I read it a very long time ago. I should see if it is available to download and read it again. The authors of the “Mommy Myth” also mention Susan Faludi’s “Backlash” frequently. I read that when I first got married. I remember how much I railed at my poor new husband page by page as I worked my way through it. And it was Loooong! 🙂
        I bought into so much of what these wonderful women pointed out…omg. Sheesh, and now I wonder why my kids are so materialistic…

  3. Brick Window says:

    Thanks for telling me this, Jay. You are right, of course. I thought about what you said here last night and today–about the total immersion Roose experiences. As I read more, he discusses how hard it was for him to even go away for a weekend. I just wrote a quick post on it.

  4. Pingback: Two Ideas | Brick Window

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