Going to different congregations has helped everyone open their mind to different religions and given us this open idea of how religion works and how its very similar for different groups of people. Visiting a christian and mormon church has given me different perspectives for each but as per say very different perspectives compared to someone who went to a buddhist church. What i realized when we were watching others present was that everything is very similar to the next place and how we found some things weird and some not. Everyone is going to compare the 2nd church they go to with the first church or a church they went to when they were a child. Having a sociological imagination compared to a closed mindset can change how we view everything within a church or within life itself. We can relate what we learned at church to something in our real life even though every single person is going through different things and going to go different ways from others. Some accept the message they learned while others immediatly do the opposite of what they were told to do. Everything is a choice and the way we chose what we do is how we will be viewed by outsiders. If you proclaim to be a christian, then do things christians would do. Being hypocritical just makes it harder for people to view you the way you want. Only we know ourselves better then anyone else, but others just see what we do based on our choices. You may not have wanted to steal that candy bar but if the person behind you saw it, he is going to view you as a stealer. Eveything in life is based on a social construct and how society tends to view people so put out something you are proud for others to see and talk about.
Something I found interesting last week was when we talked about the different stories people can tell and how the difference of religious and non religious acts pair up with cultural desires and consequences. Having different levels of faith through people in the church make it so different people need diefferent things to have a good relationship with God. Having different levels of trust in God in a church is actually good because some people can talk to people with less knowledge or more knowledge depending on what is needed for that person.
Something else interestint to me was the fact that having less religion in an area makes it less religious. You always here stories about a small town in Iowa or Nebraska where everyone knows each other and goes to the same school, church, and other events growing up . I feel like this would have more people at it then other places with multiple church locations. It is interesting to see how it is very true that the less choices you have make it so you go less. Seeinsg those same people all the time its like they are unavoidable anywhere you go weither thats at church or just the grocery store. Being blessed to be in an area where religion has many choices gives me that freedom to choose which congregation has the best interests for my personal self.
The street in London was also something that was weird but cool at the same time. Who would place every differenet religious place right next to each other but essentially it makes sense because you can walk from the mormon side to the christian to the catholic side just like that. It seems like something that wouldnt happen in America but is very intruiging to me and I was wondering what others thought about that street?
This week my friends and I attended a bible study where we all just get together and talk about God and what he can do for us. The lesson we highlighted was about how we need to live life to the fulest in the moment because tomorrow is not a given. A lesson on Tim Tebow and how after being in a plane ride with a dying man and praying for 2 hours with that family really made him realize this in full effect. This is something I found very interesting especially with the murder of Nippsey Hustle yesterday. You never know when something crazy is going to happen to you like it did to Nipsy. The fact that he was shot in his hometown outside of his own store while he was with fans shows how nobody is safe anywhere. God gives and God takes from us what we deserve and dont deserve so we have to be grateful for everything we have and our life especially. Bad things happen to good people and its unexplainable why it happens. Only God knows why these things happen to us and we have to trust in him that its part of the plan and we can come back from setbacks stronger then before. Witghout stebacks, everything in our life would just be smooth sailing but we wouldnt really learn anything about ourselves. The only way one can learn and get better at somethiing is if they end up making a mistake. Mistakes are apart of life and nobody is perfect like we always trive to be. God has a plan for us and we have to trust that plan in order to grow stronger in a relationship with him.
Over the coarse of the weekend I decided to do my congregational visit at the Mormon Church of Jesus Christ pretty close to the school. I went with my friend and it seemed to be very different from a catholic and christian church that i visited earlier. I was the only person who was not wearing a tie so that was very different from the last church that really didn’t care about attire. The biggest thing I found about the church was that it wasn’t really minister based or had one person that leads everyone. It is more of a community and togetherness that brought people together. Many people would volunteer to do opening prayer and such while people of the church would be given a topic to present on and those people would be the “pastor” for the day. They had a hymn book in the phew which was something I have never seen before but was very helpful for someone like me who didn’t know the words to the songs. After the service we broke out into small groups based on age and gender. I was with the elders group and we talked about Gods love and how he shows us love no matter how much evil there is. We talked about the people of the world and how its hard to view evil people as good and try and find the good in them when they are making bad choices. We should view things ins gods eyes that everyone is equal and try and find the good in people when there is so much bad to cover it up.
Heading to a bible study this week changed the perspective on how I look at religion and really put me in a situation where I had to make personal choices. Being at a christian school all my life and having religion forced onto me has most likely effected my long term relationship with god and makes me wonder if their even is a god. Seeing the way god works in people is astonishing and being an active member of the religion is something I would like to do and make the commitment to do but its hard because of my past. I feel like I am not the only person who feels this way and not the only person who was forced into religion at a young age. I feel like being forced into a religion and to go to church at a young age changes how people make long term decisions about their religion. Seeing someone relationship with god develop over time is something beautiful and can help you make life changing decisions but this has to be made by yourself and not forced by family. Trying to force someone into doing something like going to church will effect them directly because maybe they do not know everything about the religion or they want to learn more. This is something that has personally affected my life and something I can see effecting other peoples life as well. Bringing this to light and making sure someone has good background information on the religion and have a well rounded knowledge of what hey are trying to do will help make your decision and it should be 100% personal for your life.
Watching all the congressional visit reports last week had me thinking about the diversity of each church and how they all have different takes on religion and the way they do rituals could be the same or they could be completely different. Seeing my Hope Protestant Reformed Church and how they mixed Christian and Catholic rituals and traditions in their service was cool to me. There isn’t an outline telling you how you must teach Gods word or how you must perform a certain ritual. Every church thinks that what they do is unique and its awesome to see that everyone is accepting of their own rituals.
Chapter 5 of American Religion was talking about different congregations and how there are over 300,000 different congregations in the world. Each having a different take on the religion and the rituals that they perform. Most of these churches are very accepting of others and it talks about that in the chapter highlighting how they have more acceptance for gay and lesbian members along with the use of technology in the church and how they are changing based on the surroundings and how technology has taken over our day and age. Also, the chapter includes how informal worship is becoming a trend. It doesn’t specifically say this, but I believe that if a church doesn’t really have a dress code or standards for the way someone dresses that it’s a lot more welcoming to others whop just want to check it out. Overall the chapter does a good overview on the different congregations and how they are changing as time goes on.
Last night my roommates’ parents took us out to dinner and the conversation of megachurches came up. Mentioning my congregational visit really sparked the conversation and brought them to tell me about how they visited someone else’s church yesterday in La Verne. They said there was a couple thousand people there, so I considered it to be a megachurch. I brought up how the people go to church because of the figure head that is leading the church rather than the belief of the religion or they are still astray at why they are there. This lead my friends and roommates’ parents to talk about our religious backgrounds and how they are so different. Being from a private Christian school going to the site visit of an evangelical protestant church was very close to home for me. Talking about the book of Romans and how Paul gave his life to devote others to worship God through his word. The pastor talked about how any exposure to the Gospel is exposure to God. Listening to one verse is an encounter with God and can change your life forever.
The church was a very formal place with an informal vibe to it. The people around didn’t dress too nice with some being in khaki shorts while others were in jeans and a sweater. The pastor was in a suit and that really made him stand out as an important figure. It was a good experience and next congregational visit im going to branch out and go to a Mormon church to see how it is.
Continuing to work on our group project has brought a few things to light for me about the differences with people and religion. My groups book was Sacred Stories and Spiritual Tribes. The whole book was about the different religions different people have and the different demographics of the people that were surveyed. So many different people can be in a different “tribe” within a church. Nancy Ammerman talks about the definition of tribe is a group of people with the same interests. An example of this would be when professor Spickard brought up megachurches. Everyone is there for the pastor, but the church is so big its hard to connect with people. People then find more people with similar interests making them a tribe within the church.
Also, the term theistic and extra theistic kept coming to our attention. The definition of theistic is relating to or characterized by belief in the existence of a god or gods. Extra theistic people have more of an outside look on things compared to theistic people. The most interesting thing that I found out was the relationship with pets. People who considered themselves extra theistic would more likely be a pet owner compared to someone theistic. Also asking for prayer over smaller things compared to theistic people. Being a theistic person would lead to more meaningless prayer as well. An example would be praying around the dinner table. Families do it every night because it is routine, making it less meaningful then someone praying over someone who is very sick.
Last week we talked about the different sorting systems for religions and how you can have different subcategories within a religious category. Pulling up the map on pewforum.org was very interesting to see the differences between states and how they are different in a religious manner. I specifically looked at the “nones” category because that was the highest in WA and Oregon. This caused me to think about the earlier reading that says people always lie on polls about how much they attend church. I went out on a limb to consider that either the pacific northwest is not religious at all or is that just the region of the country that includes people that tell the truth more on the polls. The states affiliations aren’t much higher then between 30-35% which is only a few percentages higher than any other place.
The readings from Chapter 4 of McGuire’s book talks about religion and non-religion. I was interested to see how they gave a formal definition to official and non-official. Official is basically the same as unofficial except it is accepted by a group and practices on a regular basis compared to unofficial. You must go through an initiation process for most religions to be considered “one of them” and a part of the group. Being apart of an official church organization is a lot like a frat. There is something that you must do to get into the organization whereas and unofficial religion is more just like a group of friends hanging out with the same interest. A more accepting environment but not recognized by the outer world. But do we really care what others think of us? Depending on the person, the way outsiders view us is everything while to others they know their morals and what is important to them.
I found the film that we watched in class last week very interesting showing two different people in different religions and how they can have many similarities while also having differences. Both people moving to a small town led them to find connections to the people of the town through their churches they joined. One of them joined the church board and talked about how her personal connection with God was the most important thing to her while the other guy who was a preacher to the youth ministry talked about how its about other people coming to God. The best thing about religion is that one can join a church that best accommodates their needs and personality. There is no right or wrong way to participate in religious activities and the movie was a great example of this.
After reading American Religion, something that bothered me was in the first paragraph of the introduction. It talked about how most people who take a religious poll about praying or going to church end up lying about it. I believe this is a social construct that people have created that they want to hear someone say they go to church or participate in a religion. Personally, if you are or aren’t involved in a religious group, I do not believe that makes you a better or worst person. Everyone has the free will to choose if they go or not, but I was somewhat shocked when I read that most people lie about it because there is no reason to lie about something like that unless u just want people to view you as a “better person” because you go to church.