This past week in class we heard about the various religious organizations in Redlands. What was interesting to me was that there were really no common themes, each was unique and had its own personality. It was also interesting that doctrine and sermons weren’t the focal point of the presentations, instead the distinctive features of the congregation, architecture and design were emphasized. We often used words like friendly, welcoming, community etc. to describe the environment of the place instead of the worship. In a way, it was more important to understand the environment, especially in the variation of Christian traditions because it gave an insight into the type of people who are drawn to these congregations to being with.
A theme that I did see, however, was everyone who presented seemed to relate their visit to their own personal religious experiences. It’s an easy and comfortable framework to build, but it made me reflect on the value of doing so. By relating the visit to something familiar we brush off the need to reflect upon it. I have noticed this within myself and I realized why the assignment was to visit a place unlike the tradition we practice or are familiar with. However, I also recognize how difficult that is, as Christianity in almost all forms will have similarities and most of the United States is Christian.
It was in these presentations that the importance of categorizing religions was emphasized. In the McGuire reading we learned all about categories and denominations and the nuances of classifying a religious institution. It was in the subtleties of religions like Catholicism and Episcopalismthat knowing the distinctions and differences was crucially important.