Monday, February 25, 2008

The Religion of Cute

I was raised in a Catholic family and in a Catholic school. One thing I always remember from my childhood is that my mother would make the Sign of the Cross any time we passed a Catholic church. It was never anything I learned specifically to do at school, though I was only 14-years-old when I left for public school, so I guess I assumed crossing yourself was something the Apostles had done whenever they drove past a church. No matter where in town we were, when we passed a Saint-anyone, Mom would make the Sign, it was the most reckless act of driving I would witness until cell phones came on the scene. Yet it was also somehow comforting to know that she was always thinking of where she was and, I suppose, where she’d come from.

I always counted on that simple motion just as I’ve come to count on something else as a parent. When out in public with my youngest child, GK, I expect strangers to stop when they pass and comment on her remarkable cuteness. It happens everywhere we go, people stopping to cross themselves with her beauty. I’ve even witnessed a genuflection here and there.

Another lesson learned from my mother was respect and tolerance for other religions. And I am both respectful and tolerant in my adulthood. But something happened today that I’m having a difficult time holding in high regard. GK and I were at the Home Depot (she’s thinking of repairing the leaky bathtub faucet herself and wanted to browse their selection of diverter stems) and people were stopping as they do to comment on her winsomeness to each other or to try to engage her or even just to smile at her. But then she walked in front of a middle-aged couple that didn’t stop or look away from their shopping to admire her. They ignored her! What kind of beauty atheists were these people? GK was even walking, and if you’ve ever seen her toddle then you know that it’s impossible not to adore it. I almost went back to these people to ask them what their problem was. Ask them if they even saw my daughter, or if Lucifer had pitchforked all aesthetic sense out of them.

I usually give people with their own kids a pass. I have four kids and I certainly never stop to ooh and ahh over some stranger’s snot-nosed urchin. But, again, that’s because I have my own. These Godless people looked to be two of that breed that have no children of their own by choice. They probably hate children. Or beauty. I have no idea what they were buying at the Home Depot, but I’m sure whatever they’re renovating or constructing will be ugly, pointy and dangerous, and probably best left ignored altogether.