Text of a Conspirituality Podcast Bonus episode.
I’m father to two inquisitive children, boys, 5 and turning 9. They hear me in the study on Zoom or the phone interviewing people. They hear their parents discussing the news of the world, and conspirituality. They ask questions about what they hear.
My policy is to always answer as completely as I can, making my best guess about how detailed to be based on age appropriateness. I feel that if they’re old enough to ask, they’ve earned the respect of a generous answer.
When my mother was dying last winter, I was clear about her leukaemia, describing the biology of it to the best of my ability, why they couldn’t visit her, especially during the pandemic and the immune-compromising quality of chemotherapy, what treatments she was getting and how they were supposed to help, and why she eventually chose to go home to die.
The subject matter bounced from bargaining to existentialism, chemistry to memories, to what pain is like, to whether it will happen to us, how rare leukaemia is, to what it means to be dead — really dead. I appreciate that we can do this, and I try to be mindful of that line between wanting to discuss a child’s question in a helpful way to wanting to use the child as a sounding board for my own emotional life. I’m pretty clear on where that line is. The line I’m not so clear on when I get into boring dad territory.
What follows is an approximation of the Q&A that goes on around here about conspirituality. All families are different, and I’m not sure how many are discussing questions like this. But for those who are, I was thinking that running through the basics from conversational angle might be interesting.
It’s a good exercise. What I find is that I have to drop all of my media persona and cynicism and hot-takery in order to discuss these things in a useful way, a way that leaves the door open for growth and hope. When I say hope, I’m thinking of how Daniel Sherrell defines it: not optimism so much as a sense of indeterminacy. You just don’t know how…