This week we were able to share our experience on attending a sectarian church as well as listen to Dr. Spickard give a presentation, amongst his colleagues, focusing on the central question of “how do people sustain life?” Our first class of the week seemed to have a certain pattern to the congregation visits. Many of the congregations that were visited seemed they were desperate for new attendees. The message many churches portrayed seemed to take a more conservative view of society and took the text from the bible literally. Many churches integrated the idea that their belief is the only right belief within their sermon, comments, or songs. These churches also believed and preached that if you don’t follow their beliefs (the right belief) you’re going straight to hell. This seemed to make many people uncomfortable including myself. It was definitely an interesting experience and seems to be hindering their religion within the younger community.
On Wednesday, professor Spickard gave a presentation at a symposium about the way in which people sustain their lives. He focused on Catholics and their social justice actions. There were four main points of interest–rituals, symbols, experience, and results. It was interesting to hear him describe the difference between ritual and experience. He gave the example of women who describe themselves as Catholics but don’t like how masses are ran or the clergy running it. Their rituals are different from the people attending Sunday morning services and but may have similar experiences as these people. They may volunteer at the same soup kitchen or believe in similar beliefs but they don’t have the same rituals. Overall, it was interesting to see how Catholics affect society in a positive way and that there are people out there that truly care about the well-being of others; it made me want to be apart of something greater.