As parents, we all want to instill noble virtues in our children. We want them to be honest, generous, kind, brave. But when do we cross the line from moral guidance to outright indoctrination? Personally, I want my daughter to be a critical thinker, and that’s why I’m not bringing her to church with me until she’s old enough to decide if she likes Gothic architecture.
Now before you grow indignant or defensive over the decision not to bring my children to a Gothic, Byzantine, or even barnhouse-style church before they have the capacity to think freely or form their own beliefs, please know that I approach my own choices with zero judgment toward anyone else’s. I’m simply letting my daughter make these kinds of life-altering decisions when she’s mature enough to do so.
Of course, if you are bringing your little miracles to some sort of Protestant concrete slab, then you may as well plop them down into an empty swimming pool and let them praise Jesus there because they won’t know the difference (and at least it will have more artwork, like a ‘no diving’ sign). But again, that’s not my cross to bear, because my cross is huge, ornate, and somewhat chilling, just as God intended.
Do I hope that my daughter will one day, of her own volition, decide that she likes Gothic architecture? Does a bird fly? Or a bird swim when it’s in a gorgeous Gothic birdbath sculpted to resemble a cherubic yet haunted little boy holding a basin over his head? Obviously, yes. However, I would rather help my child become the type of person who can appreciate the superior architectural form of her own accord, rather than force it upon her.
That’s why every night when we pray aloud together I beg God to endow her with Mommy’s keen aesthetic judgment and let her see the light (casting ominous shadows as it filters through stained glass), then send her off to count flying buttresses till she falls asleep.
Don’t get me wrong; come Sunday morning it’s not always easy to stop myself from bringing my daughter to the most important place in my life: an arrestingly spiky old building where the choir echoes directly into your soul. But I am assured of my decision by the knowledge that there is a universal Truth just waiting to be discovered by her, and that Truth is that Gothic architecture fucking rules.