Sunday, September 30, 2007


So I'm taking a World Religions class. I admit, I didn't start this blog out of sheer love for religion and a lot of free time. It is a requirement. One of the many. For a class that doesn't take care of a writing general ed requirement, it sure seems like we write a lot. Maybe it's just me and my writers block. Writing two blogs per week doesn't sound hard at all, but then a week goes by, you haven't written them, and suddenly you've got four to write in two days. That's when it does get hard. But all that is another story. My complaining doesn't solve anything. Sometimes I just ask myself why I added this class and four more credits to my already decently busy schedule by some standards.

Obviously one reason is the credits themselves. I get two general ed credits out of the way taking it, and though I wish it covered the writing requirement, it still beats taking a four credit class that clears only one requirement.

That, however, is just a superficial reason, icing on the cake you could say. As unbelievable as it sounds, I'm not as shallow as I sometimes act. I know it's hard to believe, but it is true.

A few years back, my mom got me this book for Christmas called Life of Pi. If you've read it, you might have thought it was absolutely rediculous, or you may understand why it was so influential. It completely opened my eyes to other religions, even if it didn't cover every aspect. It made me curious about other religions and the good sides of them. The book's hero is a boy named Piscine, who nick names himself Pi (pronounced like pie). The main plot of the book really has nothing to do with religion, but it's Pi's background that was so interesting. He's from India, and he was raised Hindu by his parents. But in various occasions he ends up meeting a man who practices Islam, and Pi becomes taken in by it. He then starts to practice both Hinduism and Islam. This in itself was completely unheard of to me. How can someone believe in two religions and practice both at the same time. But it didn't stop there. He later had a meeting with a Christian minister who went into the history of Jesus Christ and told Pi all about Christianity. After that Pi began practicing all three religions. At first, I wanted to get rid of the book. I couldn't believe that some one would, in real life, be cabable of understanding and practicing the beliefs of three different religions, let alone combining Islam with Christianity. I had the presumption that Islam and Christianity were opposites, and the only justification or knowledge of Islam before reading the book was the news, which spoke constantly about terrorist groups who were "radical Muslims" and called their fight a "holy war". I thought all Muslims thought that way, that all were against Christianity, and that Islam preached the things that these terrorists were doing. I discovered from reading this book that I was wrong. The way that Islam is described in the book completely contradicted every idea I had of the religion. I can't recall how the book described each religion, but they were all positive. It didn't change my views of Christianity, but rather made me realize that there is a lot more to theology than meets the eye. If I was wrong about Islam, than I could be wrong about a lot of other things, too. It is possible to practice three religions as seemingly unlike each other as Hinduism, Islam, and Christianity. But it wasn't the actual practice of these three religions that I wanted to learn about, but rather the concept. This boy had knowledge of all of these religions and thus knew about the cultures that practiced them. In the book he was judged as naive, but I admired him as an extremely wise fictional character. He was fictional, but the concept is real.

So it ended up being a book that made me want to take World Religions. I wanted to become as wise as Pi was concerning religion. I made up my mind that I would learn as much as possible about as many religions as possible, not to eventually practice them, but rather to take the lessons that each one has to give. Pi had a philosophy on life based on his experiences of his three religions, and that philosophy is what I hope to have in common with him evenutally.

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