I was recently listening to “This American Life.” David Sedaris was making a usual guest appearance and talking about Paris. While talking about The Louvre, he said something that makes total sense to me. “I’m guessing a good number of people are standing here because people told them they should do it.”
How often do we do something we don’t really believe in? Or something we never plan on following through with? I don’t mean we forgot to do it, I mean we willingly took part in a custom or ritual with the intention of never completing (or believing) the entire reason for the custom.
Case in point: Circumcision
Most of the people I know decided to circumcise their male children. When asked about this painful endeavor, the parents couldn’t explain why they did just that they thought they ought to. A few told me they did it for cleanliness reasons but most people I’ve asked can’t explain why they decided to cut off the tip of their son’s penis. Doing some research I’ve found that it was common in Pagan society to circumcise yourself for a “coming of age ritual.” (Start screaming inside) The boy in question would take a sharp rock or a piece of flint, then proceed to cut the skin away from the tip of his penis. Keep in mind, there was no such thing as numbing gel! After that, the Jewish religion adopted the practice in order to be in a covenant with God. Passages in the bible like Genesis 17 prove to me that not everybody was thinking clearly back when it was written . I would never trust any leader who told me
“Ok, now we’re all going to cut off our foreskin right boys? After all, if we all believe in God, we all believe his perfect God penis is missing the flap, right?”
Meanwhile, I would have already turned to run screaming about how I used to only have to fear the sun.
Clearly, I am not cut out for religious practices. Which is why Alaina and Myself chose not to circumcise our son. Luckily he’s at the age where the only friend is the cat, and she doesn’t care what his penis looks like so I’m not afraid to reveal uncomfortable facts about him. (For instance, this morning….he had….diarrhea…..Shhhhh) Not only will insurance not cover it, we don’t believe in the covenant practice of taking a blade to your genitals. I wasn’t about to shell out $150.00 to cause unnecessary pain. And I know that people will say this to me : “Oh, it’s so much cleaner without the foreskin.” These people are morons. A dick is essentially a tiny arm that swings between two sweaty legs all day and night. Unless you live in a vat of Purell (which would probably sting) your penis is dirty. To me, circumcising your sons due to the “cleanliness factor” is just another excuse not to have to properly interact with your son and talk to him about how he should be cleaning his penis.
Yes, its awkward, but so is everything else in life.
Above: I just told Jude what circumcision was. He was not happy.
Along with circumcision comes baptisms and christening. Again, (I feel) like these are practices that only matter if you actually plan on raising your children within a religiously centered house. If you think that being a christian, or a catholic (or whatever else religion you want to half ass) means saying you believe and showing up for church twice a year, you should stop wasting everybody’s time with your ugly kids getting water on their brand new “ceremony clothes”. I strongly believe that if you’re participating in religious ceremonies without intending to follow-up, there is no reason to.
As with most things, society seems to allow religion to dictate our lives and the lives we create. Many people follow blindly and never question themselves, their practices or the reasons behind everything. I’m not saying to give up religion, God or your practices involving either one, I’m saying think about it. Think about why you baptize your children and circumcise your boys. Are you willing to go all the way from start to end? Or are you not thinking for yourself anymore?