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The opinions are coming in from all sides, and the consensus from family is that I should have my newborn baby son baptized. Baptized?! In this godless society with evolution, pedophile priests, and a planet that revolves around the sun?

What’s the point?

I see shades of my grandfather, my father, and myself when I look into the eyes of my seven-week-old son (strong genes), and despite a habit for staying up at all hours of the night, he’s right on track to become a professional athlete/actor/rebel leader. And, standing back and taking another look, I also see that he is the newest member in a line of hard-charging men, who, as infants, no doubt screamed bloody murder as they were admitted into Christianity by being dunked in ice-cold holy water by fellows in white muumuus and absolved of all the sins they had committed up to that point.

“I would do it if I were you,” says my father on baptizing. “It’s traditional, and you have things like the naming of the God-parents.”

My mother agrees: “God has done so much for you, and your little baby has to be baptized,” she says.

Wait a minute. None of us go to church anymore! Sunday is when everybody sleeps late and musters the courage to go back out and battle the cruel world. How can I honestly stand in front of a priest and say “Amen”, when I believe the majority of religious dogma he preaches to be baloney?

A New Tradition


So, the jury is still out on the whole baptism deal. Instead, I thought of something a little more personal – a new tradition for my family. Two weeks ago, a bunch of friends and family got together for a special occasion: to mark the first time that my son touched the Earth (a first step in the right direction, so to speak). The setting was picturesque as our group of a dozen stood in a shady, green spot in Rock Creek Park in Washington, D.C.

A nearby Hispanic family, no doubt having come straight from communion and wondering what God-forsaken Pagan ritual was occurring next to their picnic table, watched as our group innocently formed a circle, and I, holding my blue-eyed baby in his blue-and-white-striped shirt and blue pants, pulled out a note from my inside coat pocket. Naturally, the baby sensed that holy water was approaching and started to scream. I handed him over to his mother and tried to speak in a pitch that could carry over these piercing infantile wails. This was the message:

“Thank you all for being here! Today, June 1, 2014, marks the day that this boy, my son, Henry James Cullum, will touch the Earth for the very first time. All of you in attendance will be able to say that you were here at this moment.

“Henry James will stumble along his road – as all of us have stumbled. But we all get up, dust ourselves off, and, hopefully can depend on friends when the footing seems perilously insecure. I have relied on many of you here for such support, and it is gratifying to know that you will be here for him when and if the need arises.

“So, without further ado, here begins the journey of Henry James Cullum, and with his heritage of independent thinkers, I hope he goes far.”

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