Tuesday, January 31, 2006

I am having such a difficult time in finding some of our readings interesting. Instead, I just find them extremely boring and very hard to get through sometimes. For example, the article about etic and emic. Oh my gosh! Boring. Personally, I find that the first-person accounts of religious experiences are a lot more engaging, compelling, and just easier to read. I find the narratives told exactly from the eyes of the beholder to be much more valuable for myself personally because I find that I learn more. I mean, fact is great and all, but I don't believe that just reading informative pieces will actually help people, especially myself, to understand religion. Facts don't explain a person's desire to practice a religion and they certainly don't explain what a person, who says he or she had been "saved," experienced internally when it comes to their thoughts and emotions. I mean, how can pure fact explain what a person needs to do, say, feel, experience, etc. in order for them to actually feel God, know Him, and want Him in their lives? This is where I believe the personal accounts come into play and where they can help people answer these questions or at least get on the right path to answering them. Like for me personally, I think the main reason I don't practice a religion or have any desire to do so is because I have for so long not lead a religious life at all. I mean, why don't I have a desire to be an active part of a religion? Is there something wrong with me? What do I need to do or feel inside myself in order to desire a religious life? All of these questions, I think, can be addressed by reading the religious experiences of other people to examine what they themselves were feeling internally at the moment they experienced this wonderful feeling. I believe that no fact or research or theory can help people (me) address this conflict. Fact does not address personal emotions, thoughts, or beliefs because every one person is different. In my opinion, fact can not explain that special feeling inside that people, who do lead religious lives, experience on a daily basis; it just can't describe that one tiny moment in someone's life that he or she realizes that they will have a boundless faith and love for God. Only the person's own retelling of that account can express what they were feeling, which in the end determines if one person will lead a religious life and another choose a life without religion completely. I have chosen through my own desires, emotions, feelings, and thoughts that I will not be a part of a religion; other people I know who do practice a religion chose to do so. Why? Why not me?

Thursday, January 26, 2006

I am glad we took the time on Wednesday to discuss in smaller groups and as a class the four theorists and each of their essays because when I first read some of them, I must say I was very confused as to what they were trying to prove. I think we should do that more often because I know for myself personally that I don't always know exactly what the authors mean or their viewpoint on things. I hope I am not the only one who doesn't always completely understand the readings. Sometimes I wonder if I should have even taken this course. Oh well.

So, I haven't made an entry concerning the readings for awhile, so here it goes. I like Yearley's theory of spiritual regret because I agree, to a certain extent, with the whole idea of not abandoning your own religion for another set of beliefs or practices. However, there are two aspects of his essay that I don't like. For one, people convert all the time. It's not like there has never been a circumstance where a person has converted to another religion. When I said I agreed with his theory to an extent, I meant that I would not be opposed to converting to another religion. I believe that if a person is not satisfied or completely happy with their own religion, they have the right to convert to another one if it meant that the religion brought fullfillment and happiness to his or her life and it in the end made that individual a better person who could contribute to his or her community.

As for Paden and his comparative, analytical approach to comparing religions (a very risky act), I like the idea of breaking down the religion into its differents parts and analyzing its inner structure. I think that breaking the religion into its individual parts makes it less dangerous when comparing and contrasting religions.

Proudfoot....hmmm....Proudfoot. I am still a little confused with his theory of descriptive and explanatory reductionism because it says in the essay that both don't actually identify the religious experience according to how the person identified it. I don't know, maybe I am completely missing the entire point. I think the major difference between description and explanation is that a description includes aspects of persuasion and explanation is strictly informative. For example, when a friend of mine who had experienced being "saved" or finally realizing that his path was to follow God and look to God in everything he did told me about this experience of his, I immediately felt the sense that he was attempting to persuade and convince me that I should do the same. He did this by using vivid description in a very positive way, making it seem as if any other way besides his was wrong. An explanation would not include such bias.

Lastly, I strongly believe that people make conscious decisions as to what they will believe in and follow as a religion. Boyer's "sleep of reason" theory is total CRAP. However, I do see everyday that what people say they believe in does not match what they actually practice on an everyday basis, which means that we can not always take someone's word when they tell us, "This is what I believe and why."

Well, that's it for now. I have to get started on my other homework, which includes studying for the wonderful subject of Chemistry. :)

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Wow! I must say my blog sucks compared to Mohsin's. Awesome job Mo!

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Although all of this computer stuff was a little confusing in the beginning, I really think that these programs that Dr. Rein has set-up for the class are going to prove to be beneficial towards the structure of the class as well as how we communicate our thoughts and feelings about the readings or sites that we visit. I am glad that Dr. Rein has structured the class this particular way and I am very excited to use these various online sources as well as visit the religious sites that he has planned for the class. I just hope that he limits the number of poems we have to read and gives the class more material like, This Blessed House by Lahiri.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

So, I read the packet of readings for class tomorrow and enjoyed the short story by Lahiri and found the article by Eck very true, but I hated the poems by Lee. I have never enjoyed reading poems and for one reason, I don't understand them. Not only did I fail to understand these poems, I found the one, The Cleaving, to be extremely disgusting with its vivid descriptions of eating people.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Hi everyone. This is my cat, Dooby, and I miss him very much. Over Christmas break, he decided to climb inside our Christmas tree while we were taking it down. As much as he is adorable, he loves to get himself into mischief.