When I was little, growing up in Puerto Rico, there was no way of avoiding or ignoring Holy Week. Even if I did not go to church, even if I was being raised by an atheist, I knew what Easter was all about. You could not help it. Puerto Rico's culture is very much drenched in religious tradition. Holy Week is a big deal. Everybody goes to the church via crucis on Good Friday. Absolutely nothing else happened that day. There was no school, no work, no stores open, and the only thing playing endlessly on the 4 TV channels we had was old movies about Jesus' crucifixion and resurrection. My favorite was El Martir del Calvario, which I watched over and over (and rolled my eyes at) throughout my formative years. I don't recall much of it now, other than the fact that it was incredibly cheesy and over the top melodramatic.
I do not go to church by choice. I do not consider myself a Christian, although I was baptized Catholic and attended both Baptist and Catholic schools. I do not believe in Heaven and Hell. Sure, there is good and evil in this world, but not due to the influence of angels and demons. I don't believe we need a book to tells us what is wrong and what is right. I am grateful I am in this world, and I intend to make the best of this life I have, because once it is over, that's it for me. My role in life is to live the best way I can, without hurting others or taking advantage of them. I guess you could say I believe in secular spirituality.
Consistent with this is the way I am raising my children. I am trying to teach them to treat others with respect and compassion, to not be greedy, to look inside them for the light and to appreciate the wonders of life. They do not need to have the fear of a Christian God in them to be good people.
My daughter, Paula, does not know much about Easter, or about the story of Jesus. She vaguely knows that Jesus is the son of God, but she does not know the details of his story. I found out about this last night, as Gabe and I were watching some History Channel documentary on the life of Jesus, and Paula started asking questions about how he died and what had been done to him. I realized my daughter was blissfully ignorant about his plight, and that has been on my mind since. Is it my duty to teach her about this? Should she be aware of the basic tenets of Christianity, as a strong element of the culture we are immersed in? Should I teach her so that she has the right framework to understand the cultural waters we are navigating?