Saturday, November 14, 2009

Running Away From Home

We've run away from home, my wife, daughter and me. I'm referring to our church home of 15 years. And it's all on our daughter's behalf.

Our daughter is a very capable choral singer. She started this school year by joining the school's sixth grade chorus in September with the intention of auditioning for their special traveling chorus. She was undecided about joining the church choir, but we told her that she could quit if it became too much. So she joined the church choir in September, as well.

On Monday she was thrilled to learn that she was accepted into the special school chorus. So she brought up the idea of quitting the church choir, saying to me that it was boring while saying to my wife that she didn't like it.

Usually when we get different statements from her it means something isn't right. So my wife decided to call the choir director, MD, whose daughter also happens to be in the choir. We had to call anyway to announce the resignation. MD readily accepted our daughter's resignation, saying that she seemed "miserable." Well, this got my wife going. "If you saw that she was miserable, why didn't you say something to me earlier?" MD also mentioned that a loud, bossy girl just joined the choir, taking over the group and befriending her daughter. My wife tried to get across to MD the idea of inclusion, as well our daughter's need for a structured social setting. But she was met with infuriating walls of ignorance and indifference. "I was shy when I was growing up," was MD's neurotypical response.

The next day, my wife called the music director to let her know about her dissatisfaction with MD. The ensuing hour-long conversation convinced my wife that this church was not the right place for our daughter. And if our daughter isn't accepted there, then we aren't either. So tonight we've made no plans to have our daughter go to tomorrow's weekly Sunday school or to the church service. And we'll be attending a different church on Christmas.

I don't think my wife actually told the music director that we'd be leaving the congregation. But this is the time of year they collect pledges, and ours wasn't one of them. I imagine that we'll be getting a call from the Pastor (or at least the Stewardship committee) fairly soon.

I have mixed feelings about this affair. On the one hand, I'm somewhat relieved. I've never been reliant on organized religion. I'm content and confident enough in my spirituality to do my own studies and contemplations to meet my needs. But I am personally bothered that I won't be going to some physical place that I'm familiar with -- a home away from home -- where I know many people and they know me. This home-away-from-home is now verboten.

When my wife would ask me why I go to church, I'd say to her, "It's so that if I die before you, you will have many people to comfort you at my funeral." It's sounds like a wisecrack, but I was being completely honest.

I had been a member of the adult choir starting in 1994. At the start of this year I finally announced that I wouldn't be singing with them any more. I write "finally" because of how many years I thought about doing it and how difficult a decision it was. It upset a few people there. But with the new music director's arrival, I felt it was a good time to go.

What bothers me more than anything is that our daughter now has no religious education, which I think is important regardless of one's beliefs. The Bible is the most well-known work of all time in the Western world. To be ignorant of it would be like growing up in the 60s and 70s without having watched any TV.

Nevertheless, it is right to run away. The Sunday school is too disorganized. Children hang out unsupervised in classrooms while waiting for their teachers to show up late. With the low attendance on holiday weekends, the kids sit around to watch Veggie Tales. She'd be old enough to join the Youth Group next year, but it's so unstructured and poorly supervised, she'd flounder immediately.

Frankly, I don't think there's a church anywhere in our area that's equipped to handle special needs children. But we'll have to look and settle for the best we can find.


eyeshield said...

I followed you over here from your posting on the blood type forums. I am also an INTP and identify completely with how you approach your spirituality and the reason for belonging to a church, someone to come to the funeral :-). My husband is an A and doesn't have the same need for socialization that I have. Anyway, I was wondering if you have read Joel S. Goldsmith, Walter Lanyon or Alfred Aiken? If not, I recommend them in that order. Gayle

Square Peg Guy said...

Hi Gayle:

Thank you so much for those recommendations and for visiting!