Don’t Throw that Baby…!

Beginning in adolescence, it is very typical for children to begin to rebel in the effort to achieve autonomy. This rebellion can come in simple forms like dying one’s hair purple, sneaking around and getting a tattoo, dating someone that parents disapprove of, and (of course) having sex. But, sometimes the need for autonomy is more fundamental and the adolescent tends to “throw the baby out with the bath water,” and reject everything his parents and community taught him. This rebellion also can serve a purpose but it is a more dangerous pathway as it can lead to severe behavioral and emotional problems as living “beyond the pale” of the cultural mandates one was offered can be very painful.

I was raised a conservative Christian in Arkansas, in the South of the United States. It was not until about the age 20 when I started my rebellion and it took me about 15 years to completely forego my fundamentalist Christian roots. But, fortunately I never threw “the baby out with the bathwater” and so, for example, never considered myself an atheist or even agnostic. And now I’m very glad as decades later I am discovering my Christian faith very meaningful and realize how that the roots of this faith are very instrumental in helping me find this meaning. Yes, I finally have the courage to interpret scripture and religious tradition for myself and can do so in a way in which they are “meaningful” to me. And, I have found…fortunately…that my approach to the matter is not isolated–many others approach the subject in a same fashion and I have even found me a community of faith in my community. This is important because there is danger when one interprets religion in such a fashion that he isolates himself, even if ensconced in a very isolating, sectarian, exclusivist group.  (This isolation reminds me of an old bromide, “He who lives by himself and for himself will be spoiled by the company he keeps!)

I’m going to share with you another blog from Richard Rohr which addresses this very issue of “throwing the baby out with the back wate”:





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All-or-nothing reformations and all-or-nothing revolutions are not true reformations or revolutions. Most history, however, has not known this until now. When a new insight is reached, we must not dismiss the previous era or previous century or previous church as totally wrong. It is never true! We cannot try to reform things in that way anymore.


This is also true in terms of the psyche. When we grow and we pass over into the second half of life; we do not need to throw out the traditions, laws, boundaries, and earlier practices. That is mere rebellion and is why so many revolutions and reformations backfired and kept people in the first half of life. It is false reform, failed revolution, and no-transformation. It is still dualistic thinking, which finally turns against its own group too.


So do not waste time hating mom and dad, hating the church, hating America, hating what has disappointed you. In fact, don’t hate anything. You become so upset with the dark side of things that you never discover how to put the dark and the light together, which is the heart of wisdom and love, and the trademark of a second half of life person.




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