Have you seen Truth Be Told? It’s the new Zack Morris sitcom on NBC in the doomed Friday night slot when all of the people that might watch this show are out doing way cooler shit. It’s not the best show, but it’s also not the worst show, either, but I like Mark-Paul Gosselaar (Zack Morris) and Tone Bell (a sitcom regular black guy with a beard). I’m 100% sure the show will be canceled shortly and 2000% sure it will never see a second season. Anyway, one particular episode touched on religion and specifically Zack Morris’ character’s preference to not raise his daughter with religion. Shocking isn’t it? TV taboo even.
Interestingly enough, that’s my exact take on parenting and religion reserved exclusively for children who used to live in my balls. I am not the “push my ideology on everybody else” type of guy. And, no, I’m not an atheist or agnostic (there is a difference); I’m Catholic. All the same, there is no Santa or Jesus in the DeGrate household - with the exception of my Jesus pieces, rosary beads, and crosses. Until last week, I thought the tooth fairy was still holding it down for me, but my daughter, Madi, told me randomly, “I know you’re the tooth fairy. I know you’re giving me money. I’ve always known.”
Before you question me on letting the tooth fairy have her shine but not Jesus or Santa, the tooth fairy actually serves a purpose. Those other guys? Not so much. How else am I going to get a 5-year-old to allow me to snatch a tooth out of her head without the false belief that some mythical Tinkerbelle-like creature is going to give her money? Ok, then.
See, the thing is this I’m not 100% sure - fuck it I’m not even 35% sure - I’d be religious if I wasn’t raised Catholic. As a child when I was too young to know any better they spoon-fed me Jesus, the boogie man, Santa, and the tooth fairy. As I got older, they pulled the rug on all the other shit, but allowed Jesus to cook; I guess because he died for my sins and all. So here I am damn near 36-years-old praying to a guy (or guys and a spirit) that I’m not sure I’d have stock in if I would have discovered the faith today.
Imagine having no concept of religion and stumbling across a bible at your local Flea Market (because you hipsters love flea markets). You pick it up and pay 99 cents because it’s leather bound and the pages are gold leafed and if nothing else it will look cool sitting on your coffee table next to that piece of driftwood you picked up at Rehoboth beach last summer. Two days later your WiFi is down, there isn’t shit on TV, and your cell service sucks in your apartment so you can’t even get on Twitter and there is the bible staring you in the face. (This shit is about to get real blasphemous so all my die-hard bible fans and Jesus freaks it’s time to tune out.)
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” How Sway? And what the fuck does that even mean? Let’s say you skip all that and go to the dope stories like the Tower of Babel when the people were building a tower to heaven (which seems mighty improbable since outer space exists and air gets very thin at extreme heights) or Noah’s ark when they put two of each animal (predator and prey) on a boat and nobody ate anyone else for 40 days and 40 nights. Do you know how big a boat would have to be to fit two of each animal? Mad logistical flaws in these bible stories, B.
It could be the centuries separating the "word of God" and modern science, but as a grown-up it would be hard to swallow. Then we have all of the savage shit that we just politely skip over in the bible like all that God sanctioned rape, murder, and slavery. What type of God is pro-slavery and anti-shrimp? Shrimp is wonderful, and slavery has been time tested as a rather shitty practice. I mean some people are allergic to shellfish, but everybody is allergic to being whipped into submission as a slave. As an adult I have a difficult time sorting through what should be applied to life and what shouldn’t be. Are women second-class citizens or nah? In my times of need, I just ask for guidance over turning to the good book.
So how do I deliver this convoluted labyrinth of “religion” to my child? Instead I just instill sound morals in my child and leave Jesus out of it. I leave it up to her in adulthood whether she wants to choose the path that was forced upon me.
Maybe this isn’t so much about “Me, Religion, and Zack Morris, but more “Me, Religion, and Madi”.
Let us pray.
Jean DeGrate is an Uptown DC native. Like most great thinkers of our time, he got his start writing on MySpace enlightening strippers and ratchets before they were a 'thing'. You can find him on the streets of DC looking fresh as hell in the case the feds are watching and clowning folks who think that means being Gucci down to the socks. And if you're looking for him on social media, the name's always the same - @JeanDeGrate.