All posts by Rikako

Religious or faithful

I interviewed Dr. Mirci for my interview. He is Associate Professor, Department Co-chair in School of Education. He is ordained as deacon and then as priest.

When I was asking questions, the thing I thought interesting is his answer when I asked “what does it mean to be religious to you?”. I was kind of surprised when his expression became bitter. I wasn’t sure why for first, but then he said, “Being religious has negative aspect for me”. I asked him what does it mean by that, and he said the word “religious” for him has idea of thinking one’s religion is unique or superior one comparing to others. It sounds almost like churchly oriented group in religious organization. He said he will rather use the word “faithful”, not religious. Person who says that one is “religious” tend to have that way of view, which is not  what Jesus is trying to do, he said. I think it is interesting because I thought that Roman Catholic, as religious organization, is churchly oriented, however he sees things more like denominational way. He also said that even people who are not “religious”, do not belong in religious organization, do not go church, or even do not believe in god can be “faithful”.

Safe place

The article I read for last class was Reproducing Ethnicity by Ebaugh. How it explains religion’s role for immigrants was interesting, because it was something that I can relate to. It explains people reproduce their ethnicity using religion, as way to create safe place for ethnicity and continuing culture. The idea of how immigrants use their religion in foreign place is something that Levitt was explaining in her book. However, Reproducing ethnicity focused on immigrants that create safe space for themselves to stay in community that they belong and to conserve their identity, while Levitt focused on how bringing those values has effect on US.

I think I understand those who reproduce ethnicity by religion because I use to need my safe place, which means staying with people who talks my language, and my parent still tend to avoid English-speaker sometimes (for example, she always tries to find barber who speak Japanese…). Whether it’s good or bad for them, people who came to new place need their own safe place. Those people in this article choose church as their safe place, but it can be just small group of people around you or home. Also having cultural food is important than people think. I might be more americanized if I wasn’t eating Japanese food that my mother made.

The World Council of Churches vs. the Jewish state, once again

The World Council of Churches vs. the Jewish state, once again



The news was Israeli parliament did the vote that would deny entry visas to activists who call for the boycott of the Jewish state, and World Council of Church is attacking that action although WCC was part of reason for this law. WCC has been having negative influence over Israel/semitic-state by leading harsh political warfare. It has biased opinion towards Israel, and has been acting against Israel for while. It also uses Israel open tourist visa policy to promote anti-Israel campaign, so this action can be reaction of Israel.

However, The Economist claimed this ban clearly has possibility of harming relations between the Jewish state and Christianity.  Isolating or banning itself from outside is not good solution, I think, because I feel like that’s what WCC was aiming for. If Israel takes action towards WCC, WCC can raise more voice against Israel “to isolate and demonize Israel internationally”. Since that’s WCC’s campaign is about, Israel should have not taken intense action like this because it just creates more tension.

Secularization what if

The article I read, Secularization and Its Discontents by Rob Warner, there were several sociologists claiming about secularization. However, few of them said secularization doesn’t mean extinction of religion. I was wondering what it means by that. According to dictionary, “secular” means “denoting attitudes, activities, or other things that have no religious or spiritual basis”. If secularization is not disappearance of religious/spiritual things, then what is it?

I think it depends on how you define “religious” and “spiritual”, but anyway, in the article one of sociologist Wilson said, “religious must now compete in the private with other providers of meaning, mystery and consolation, from psychotherapists to the movies”(37). One of thing that religion does is provide meaning in one’s life. However, today, there are more stuff that can do that other than religion. Religion will eventually become privatized, according to Wilson, and that leads to secularization. So, if people start to talk about religion like movie or tv show, like “what’s your favorite movie?” or “do you watch that tv show?”, that’s secularization? In the future, if secularization continues, do people eventually talk about religion like privatized hobby, accessory, pet, or even friends?

“Secular Europe”

EU headscarf ban ruling sparks faith group backlash


The news is about Court of Justice said Belgian firm may ban employee to wear “religious and political symbols” and doing so is not discrimination. Although it says  “religious and political symbols”, the case was about receptionist who was dismissed because of wearing headscarf, so it is mostly on Muslim woman.

It is kind of surprising that they passed it because I am pretty sure that it is obviously discrimination against certain religion and against freedom of performing religion in general. I knew that people in EU are less religious but this is more about basic right. Also, even worse, the conservative candidate commented that it will create “social peace”.

This might be completely irrelevant, but I wondered something; first thing I thought when I see this article was that the rule would not be (I mean, hopefully) passed in US if that happens. And I was wondering, since I was reading “Religious America, Secular Europe?” and “Secularization and its discontents”, is this can be something that related to secularism?

Religion and bias

The movie we watched in class showed us that how religion can ties people together to create social movement against social bias. In the movie, black church creates place to keep people together and protect their identity from bias.   It was also those people’s way to protest, and fight back against unreasonable bias. Their effect to social change is huge, and it contributes to both conflict and cohesion through fighting against society and getting equality.

However, part of reason that there is social inequality, not just racism but also gender role and other social premise is religion itself. Religion contributed to give white people priority and set gender role for man and woman. The way, despite the direction of movement, of how religion affected  to society is same for both white privilege and movement against bias. Both creates or changes certain trend in society, and both protects certain group. Movement against woman gender  role is more preferable to people compared to back then, when traditional woman gender role is more preferable. I think only difference is time, situation, and the existed social trend. The result of how people use religion in social movement can be anything, even opposite, which shows how big the influence of religion is on people and society.

“disagree better”
The article’s point was learning and understanding religion is necessary nowadays to citizenship. You see different religion everywhere, and  religion is key that brings conflict among different viewpoint about anything such as justice, freedom, etc.

As McGuire said in the book, religion brings not only conflict but also cohesion. But in order to have debate that walk towards cohesion rather than attack each other, knowing and understanding other religion is so important that “In educational theory, religious literacy could be considered a ‘threshold concept’ for 21st-century citizenship”.

This article uses the word tolerance, but in Levitt word I think it’s more pluralism. As tolerant (in Levitt definition) people are afraid, the article says that becoming more religiously literate can change “will not necessarily lead to more agreement – indeed, it might even steel our convictions. But it will lead to being able to ‘disagree better’ (the aim of the Scriptural Reasoning movement) by tampering cheap stereotypes and petty caricatures”. I define myself as tolerant person. I sometimes wonder why I want to study religion anyways if I don’t like to be changed by religion. Want to know about something I don’t know is one, but I think “disagree better” also makes sense to me. I don’t mean I want to disagree with people to attack, but want to disagree to get something out of it, so I can become more pluralistic.

Concert in church

I thought Reinventing American Protestantism was really interesting case study. Compare to the church I visit, and other stories that I heard about church, the “sandal church” sounds much more fun. It looks like going concert and have community.

The story of pastor reminds me the pastor from “Born again: Life in a Fundamentalist Baptist Church”. The people, not just pastor, in that movie had experienced the fall out of life at some point and turned into religious and have personal relationship with God. However, different from those in “Born again”, the way of sandal church is more suited to the people and period. What I have felt about that film was that it is not right way to attract people (well that film was in 1987 so that make sense). And the sandal church, I thought, is inventing new style of religion that attracting people in this period (maybe not including old people or people who like traditional way). As they said in presentation, they are successful because they fulfill the needs of people. The church I visited was diminishing the size because there is not enough people attending. They were discussing about what to do about that, and maybe they need to invent something like sandal church (maybe not exactly something since one of member of that church was complaining about loud music playing in other church) to get more people in church.

freedom of religion

What is true freedom of religion? Kentucky Senate passes bill to allow religion in schools. I saw people commenting on it, and most of them was opposing it while the most of senators (31 out of 34) voted to pass the bill.

I am not sure how many people agree or disagree with that bill, and I am not sure how I feel about that either. People who disagree and worry about this bill say this just gives school/teacher chance to promote their own religion, which is most likely major religion, which is Christianity. I agree that it is difficult to say that all religion has equal chance to be represented in school since all religion has different population. To protect freedom of religion,  they say, religion in school should be not allowed.

I do agree with them but not fully. Those people opposing the bill might be tolerant but not pluralistic. I think separating religion is little bit different from freedom of religion. If we can perceive difference of religion less important (doesn’t mean religion is not important to person), and if we can talk about religion and how do others think about religion more freely, people might be  more pluralistic, not just be tolerant, which is like “Oh you believe in that? That’s good, bye.” Also, knowing about something makes less fearful or unconformable of it. I am still questioning about this bill, but at same time, how people opposing might be opposite of something that they truly want.


Connect through church

The book that we presented to the class Wednesday, God needs no passport, by Peggy Levitt, was full of examples of emigrant’s life which we didn’t talk about(just because we were staying on her thesis). And most of them is how emigrants connect themselves to America and their own country. How some of them talks about  their identity, like how they are trying to become member of America but at same time they are still connected and part of home country, was pretty relative to me. I also want to be part of America but same time I am still so Japanese, as characteristic-wise, and as culture-wise.

The major difference between my story and their story is how big the religion take part of. For me, the way to staying connected with home country was internet and Japanese friends in school. For them, it was church with community of their own people or religion of their home country. Although we talked about it in presentation and through past classes, I still did’t know about idea of  church as community because we barely have the idea of it. But today I went to church first time. It was small church and people there are close and friendly to outsiders. People just talk about their daily life, pray together, and bless each other. It was something new for me, but I understand how people go to church not only because for prayer but also for people there.