One mother's quest to give her son 'a religious upbringing he doesn't have to unlearn'

As a feminist theologian and the daughter of a pastor, Rachel Meyer has thought a lot about matters of the spirit, but when it came time to pass on her knowledge to her son - she was at a loss at how to teach him about religion without inflicting spiritual trauma.
Rachel Meyer, shown here with her family, is an American writer and yoga teacher living in Basel, Switzerland. (Suzy Lou Photography)

Some of the toughest questions in theology come from kids:

Did God make us? Who made God?

Children often engage with life's biggest questions naturally - but that doesn't mean it's easy for parents to teach them about spirituality. If you - or someone you love - is raising kids in the 21st century, you may have grappled with this one already. 

If you're in a mixed marriage - whose religion wins?

If you don't belong to an organized religion, do you raise the kids with some kind of belief just for reasons of belonging? Or identity? Or existential grounding? 

Do you need to have a firm grasp of what you believe, to teach spiritual values to your children? 

Rachel Meyer has a degree in theology and even she finds this to be very tricky terrain

Rachel Meyer. (Suzy Lou Photography)

Meyer grew up in a Christian home, the daughter of a pastor. She has many positive memories of her religious upbringing. 

"There are so many precious aspects of growing up in the church: having that as a weekly practice, the liturgical rhythms, the music, the chant, the Latin!" Meyer recalled. "That alone is so valuable."

Now that she has a family of her own, she is looking for a church community that is a good theological fit for her family, embraces the wonderful aspects of her Christian faith and is also forward-thinking. 

"It's 2020. And it seems to me that there's no reason that any pastor should refer to God as "He" at this point in time," said Meyer.

Meyer is looking for a church that uses inclusive language, embraces and promotes LGBTQ rights, emphasizes service and social justice, and does not focus on the idea of original sin.

"I thought so much about how damaging it is to tell a three-year-old that he is broken. He is fundamentally broken. And the only way he can be saved is via this external source of salvation. There's a violence to it that really strikes at the gut," Meyer said.

Meyer has found that the natural world is an ally, when it comes to conveying ideas about the divine.

"In the morning when we drive to school, I make sure to point out the light in the sky. Or the ways in which, when you're walking in the woods, you feel the wind blowing through your hair - and that's God! And that all of these different manifestations of the divine show up in little and big ways throughout the course of our day."

Meyer looks for opportunities to share her reverence for the mystical aspects of life. 

"It's that sense of being a mystic that I feel so hungry to share with him. And so I really want to emphasize for him that he can find that in literature. He can find it in nature. He can find it in Notre Dame. He can find it in the Amazon. And we have to open our eyes to see it."

Rachel Meyer offers free online yoga classes on her website. (rachelmeyeryoga.com)

Meyer is a yoga teacher, writer and feminist theologian. She lives in Switzerland with her family. 

Once the pandemic hit Switzerland in early March and her yoga studio closed, Meyer began offering free online classes on her youtube channel. You can participate at: https://www.youtube.com/c/rachelmeyeryoga

Written and produced by Rosie Fernandez.