In so many headlines Monday morning, appeared the news that The Notre dame Cathedral in France was burning. This building is not just a historical monument but a relic of history. It holds so many religious artifacts and is so important to the catholic religion. I never thought I would see the day when such an important artifact would become a devastation. Considering the French government was spending so much money on the remodeling of the building, it is crazy to see that through its renovation, would something so terrible happen. People everywhere were talking about it and had so many emotions, and this shows that places of religion hold a place with us whether we practice religion or not. It is a large part of our culture, society, and history and in times like these, when trgedy strikes is when we appreciate it the most. The cathedral held so many religious artifacts that were created and the 13th and 14th centuries, and have stood the test of time thus far. The cathedral windows themselves have stained class images of religious figures like Jesus and the Virgin Mary, and all of it takes part in maintaining the history we have of these ideals and being able to preserve it all for the generations to come. I think it’s amazing how so many countries could come together in regards to this tragedy and offer up so many words of respect toward it whether it be their countries primary religion or not. Though people have the idea that sometimes, religion can create political and social issues, in some aspects it can also create a space for respect for one another and their beliefs.
Considering I have been a member of a religious community for most of my life, a lot of my views on certain subjects have been opened up and I now have so many different perspectives of things whether they be social or political. My new perspectives branch from my original (religiously effected) viewpoint, though I always wonder what characteristics of being on a college campus influence some students to either lean to a more liberal or conservative viewpoint. Religion tends to be a big part of this campus whether we believe in it or not, considering we offer so many types of religious studies courses and obviously have a very large chapel as a monument on our campus. However, we are also known for having a very liberal stance on political and social current events and topics. For most people, your religious orientation tends to affect your political party preference and ultimately your opinion on issues. But I always question why it is that there is a stigma that whenever students go to college, a majority of them tend to change their political views. For myself, my opinions changed just from being around people from different backgrounds and being able to listen to the opinions of others. But specifically on this campus I just wonder if the fact that we have so many religious symbols, churches and classes surrounding us; does it have an affect on other students to lean in a more liberal way or if the fact that there is religion around us, if that has an effect or none at all on students.
Throughout the past couple of weeks, as we have been reading different articles to present to the class; I have found the article “Apocalypse at Waco” by Tabor to be one of the most interesting. I find the idea of the ‘end of the world’ very interesting and it was intriguing to see the perspective of the Armageddon to be seen in a more realist and modern day light. As I was growing up, the apocalypse was a very big topic within most church services as people see “signs” of when God is coming back constantly and as it was written in the book of Revelation, so it is being seen in our modern times. The older I get, there seems to be so many more political and social issues that are associated with the end and I had never heard of this story of the Branch Davidians until reading this article. It is wild that people take the issues and ideas that come along with the apocalypse into their own hands because in the Bible it is pretty clear that the apocalypse will all be to Gods doing. However, it was pretty freaky reading about how we are in a time where people assure themselves that we are living in the end times and now it’s the time to take things into “our own hands” and prove that the end is near. This man Cyrus had so many strong beliefs and was able to gather so many people to listen to those beliefs which is so interesting to read about considering so many thought he was a type of holy man but others saw him as crazy.
After being able to hear about several different articles that are centered around secularism, in class last week, the topic had me questioning what I thought I had known about the word “secular”. All of my life I thought that it was a term that categorized certain types of books, music, movies, people, etc. into a group that was deemed to cause one to “stumble” or sin. As we were able to go through the articles last class, it was clear to me that there are so many different aspects to the word than I could ever really think of. The Demerath article which my group was assigned, took so many different aspects and said that to be secular had so many different meanings, and it’s so much more complex than its book definition. All of the other articles that were assigned contained different sub groups of the word, and all combined together were able to define secularism, but not if they were all apart. Most of the other articles pertained to aspects about religion dying out, and how gender plays a role in this – however, from what we discussed, “Secularization serves as a form of adaptation to historical change”, thus based on societal changes occurring, is when the word secular is defined. It isn’t just one set list of things being “bad”, yet it it is set upon the feelings and beliefs occurring within a culture at one set time. As secular things and ideas were different in the 1960s, it is also different in 2019, and will be different again in the next 50 years.
As the argument of whether we should be vaccinating versus not vaccinating our children has been a large debate amongst our society as of late, it is interesting to see the opinion and views that people whom practice religion view this topic. As the age old point of science and religion “not going together” is constantly brought up, you can see that this conflict has a lot to do with this viewpoint. According to Rene Najera, from the College of Physicians of Philadelphia, “Of the major religions practiced in the United States, only the Church of Christ, Scientist…and the Dutch Reformed Church are the two religious groups that openly discourage vaccination” (Najera 2018). Though these two religious organizations are the only ones who have openly expressed their opposition to vaccinating, I personally know some parents who practice Christianity whom are opposed to certain vaccinations (not all). As people are contracting diseases and spreading it amongst others within their communities, it is surprising that their opinions cant be changed to deciding to vaccinate. However, seeing the affect that the beliefs of many people have on their opinions regarding this topic have, opens up the door to more conversation on how times are changing, the life expectancy rate has increased, and how people who practice a religion have more recently been more open to political ideas that don’t exactly coincide with what they practice. Science and religion are two parts that have influence on each other whether people agree to believe that or not, and as more diseases are spread it should be interesting to see what people have to say about vaccinations.
Before we left for Spring Break, we watched the film “Born Again”. It explained the lifestyles of a Fundamentally Baptist Church in Massachusetts. It was very visible that things there on the East Coast are a lot different from that of here on the West. The movie took place in the 1970s-80s, and it was wide opening to see how they practice their religion. There were a lot of things that I had never witnessed before, especially the pledge of allegiance to the Christian flag. It was very interesting to see that happen because of the definition of the separation of church and state. I don’t know if that is their conforming to making a political environment within their own religion that they can argue is still a separation because it is not an American flag, but something they made themselves for expression. However, if they are adapting political ideals into their own religion it can be seen as a form of politics. It was also interesting that it took place in the 70s-80s, because they hold very traditional familial ideals and they still hold on to those things today. It looks as if there hasn’t been much change within their traditions and they uphold the same rituals and traditions that they have had since the beginning. This is similar amongst other religions as well, but I feel that there are others that are better at conforming to societal changes and incorporating that amongst their teachings, as well being accepting of different family styles and people, rather than being opposed to them.
After visiting Hope Protestant Reformed Church and writing my paper on the visit, I really reflected back on how I had made presumptions before visiting this church, and after the fact I was able to see how different this church was from any that I had previously visited. This church was actually a lot more traditional than I thought it was going to be. Beforehand, I thought it was going to be a shorter service, with less ritual, and more sermon based. However, the service was very long and had a lot of repetitiveness going on. People were very kind as expected, but I didn’t feel that they were going out of their way to make me feel as if I had belonged, which is completely understandable because people already have their formed connections and “communities” based on their weekly visits, and continued experiences with their congregation. When I typically think of a Protestant Church, I think of very welcoming, and conservative people, yet very fixed on their values and morals, which was indeed correct. But based on the service, it was very similar to a Catholic mass by means of the hymns, eucharist every week, and extremely structured. But based on the teaching, the sermon was read from the Bible and had a specific message that was given and is different every week. The church visit was different from what I had expected but I thought everyone was very deeply rooted into their beliefs and traditions which varied from what I had preconcepted because I thought it was going to be based more on attendance and going through the motions, rather than being present and understanding the message being given.
This weekend I attended my normal church service with my parents at Calvary Chapel Pomona Valley yesterday, while normally when I am at school I go to Citizens Church at the in the campus chapel. It was interesting to go from one different church to another within a time span of two weeks. Going back to back like that really had me comparing the church I go to in Redlands and the church I belong to. It’s so interesting to see how even though my home church is Evangelical Christian and Citizens is also Evangelical, how different they are. my home church is very small and probably has about 300 people in attendance maximum. Citizens Church, now that I have been in this class and compared similarities, is definitely a Mega Church. For me, the message that is being told is one of the most important parts of a church, and even seeing the differences in the way scripture is being told is just super odd. At my home church, we go through a chapter at a time in chronological order, and go through scripture by scripture, as we compare the scripture to the message. Meanwhile, at Citizens, the pastor has a message for the congregation and then takes different verses from the scripture and uses that as evidence of what he is preaching. Overall, I think that they are both very similar in the main messages they are trying to give out, yet there is so much different about the style and size of each church.
As the semester continues, I learn more about religion has a role in much of our entertainment and media culture. Since I am a media and visula culture major, I am required to analyze specific movies throughout multiple courses. Today, in my Indian cinema class, we watched a film called “Pyaasa”. At first, I realized no religious symbols whatsoever, however through an in class analysis on the film, we discovered there were numerous religious symbols throughout. In the movie there is a scene where a man is resurrected from the dead and goes to his memorial service and you can see how he stands in a doorway with his arms in a T formation, with the light coming from behind him, which creates the visual that he is Christ. This movie is a Hindu film, which is interesting to see how there would be a Christian motif in the movie. This really opens my eyes to how religion plays a factor not only in peoples religious affiliations and lives, but it also something that is familiar to everyone in a way to if you were to see it in a film, you could identify how important the scene must be, considering the resurrection of Jesus Christ is such a influential moment that it was included in an international film. This goes along with how there not only is such a large Christian population in America, but also in India. We have to identify that using this symbol is a reflection of the influence that religion has amongst popular culture.
In the third chapter of Chaves book “American Religion”, he mentions that there is a small but noticeable increase in the idea of spirituality in a persons life, rather than religion. I honestly find that really interesting considering how religion carries on throughout peoples families, and typically if a parent raises their child in one religion they would normally carry on that tradition with their children and so on. However, I do see how the idea of spirituality has become more of a pleasing form of “worship”. I think that as people in my generation (the “millennials”) grow up, we have succumbed more to not doing exactly as our parents have done, and have more of an idea of free thought.
Spirituality is based more on believing there is something else out there and that this life is more complicated, but not having to force yourself to believe in someone else’s specific views and “rules”. This generation is based soley on the idea of being yourself and having the freedom to express yourself however you feel and being accepted for who you are. I think that with thinking about that concept, you can still practice a religion or do be spiritual and it definitely gives you more options. Though I personally practice religion, I appreciate those that have a spiritual path because at least you are believing in a power that is greater than yourself. I think that both religion and spirituality is good to have, especially living within this generation, where there are numerous political views there are so with religious views.