From the Left



A personal rememberance about me and my mom

Ted Rall on

My mom died last week. Her obituary is online. It is, as obits should be, about her. Too many women's lives are contextualized around their roles as wives and mothers. So I kept myself, and our relationship, in the background.

Now for a personal remembrance.

Like all mothers and sons, we argued. A recurring conflict concerned religion. When my son was born, I promised my mom I would raise him Catholic. I figured that, like me, he would abandon the faith but move on with some useful ethical and cultural residue. I had him baptized. Which, according to the film "Warlock," should protect him from getting eaten by Julian Sands.

We didn't attend mass, though. My mom badgered me about it. Finally, I admitted the truth: "I did intend to, but, with a newborn, a lazy morning over bagels and the Sunday Times is too precious to squander on getting dressed up to talk to someone who isn't there."

A decade later, she was bitterly ranting about my religious abstinence for the God-knows-what time when I snapped: "Come on, mom! You're an intelligent person. You can't possibly believe that some man in the sky controls everything."

"Of course not. God is a myth. I'm French. Being Catholic is about culture!" WTF?


Fifty-plus years about God wants this, God hates people who, God wants you to pray, blah, blah, and it was propaganda all along! Conscious propaganda. She knew it was a lie. The funny part was that she thought she could guilt me into obedience. It never worked on me. Nor on her.

It took my mom most of my life to realize that we were wired the same way. "Mom," I said, "if you had made the cultural argument from the start, I might have bought it."

She grimaced. Her eyes grew bigger. "Well, damn," she said with a smile. She loved the life of the mind. Her true religions were ruthless criticism and logical rigor.

We had fun.


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