Llamilet Gu.

On Friday, April 14th, I visited a Muslim Mosque in Harrisburg Pa. This was definitely a different experience to say the least. It was hard enough the first time visiting a Christian non denominational church but visiting a Muslim Mosque was quite the opposite, at least from my Catholic services. First, this mosque is in what used to be a church, so its shape might be a bit different from other mosques, at least different then what I expected. I was told to wear loose clothing that covered me as much as possible, and I did. Once we arrived at the Mosque I had to wear a scarf over my head to hide my hair. I was taken aback by this because I just thought I could be an observer in the back watching it all. Then came another surprise: I had to enter the mosque through a different door, and before entering I had to wash my hands. This made the experience a bit more difficult because I would not have my friend to guide me through everything, but he said once inside there would probably be someone to help. Well, I found my way in after asking for directions a couple of times, and I took off my shoes and kneeled down with all the other women, BEHIND A CURTAIN. That was my next surprise, I knew that the women would be seperated but I thought it would be men on the right and women on the left. No, we had maybe a 10 by 10 foot space surrounded by a green curtain, where I could see the shadows of the men moving.
All I could do was listen to the voice lecture while I knelt with the women and children. The Imam talked about a monkey who outwit the villagers who tried to poison him, which I believe was used to show that even animals have some love or faith in God, and so we as humans should too. The rest of the prayer was in Arabic and so I had no idea what he said, but according to Ellwood they were all praises to God. I knelt when they knelt but did not put my head to the floor. Then the noon prayer was done.
I was able to talk to the woman next to me who told me that this was not always how the prayers were celebrated. She said in her mosque they did not have children running around and although the women did sit in the back they were not hidden behind a curtain. She explained to me that the calligraphy on the stained glass windows were a few of the 99 names of God. I thanked her, and headed out the mosque where I joined my friend who told me I could not take off the scarf until after we left the parking lot of the mosque, and so ended my encounter with Islam.
Overall, this was a great learning experience. I was faced with a whole new religion I knew nothing about and I embraced it, and reading the Ellwood chapter I was able to better understand it. There were some parts I did not like such as the subordination of women, but I do love the submission of all the Muslims to God.

This past Sunday morning I went to a non denominational Christian church called The Church of the Open Door of Shiloh in York Pennsylvania. Now, I am Catholic and I thought since this was a Christian church it would be very similar to my previous experiences; however, it was very different in many ways. The church was small and there were a lot of older people present which was very different coming from Dickinson. The church was up on a hill in what seemed like the middle of nowhere, which was actually very comforting because the scenery gave me a sense of peacefulness. Inside it seemed like everyone knew each other, and I was thankful I was with a member of the church or else I might have felt lost and left out I think. People hung their coats in a coat rack, which I thought was a very personal touch because it shows that it’s a small community church where people can be trusted. The dress code was obviously “church clothes,” a semi dressy outfit. I was glad that I had worn slacks and a dress shirt! The elders and pastors were also all dressed in suits.
First, I attended a Sunday school class for adults. They read from the bible and many people gave their interpretations of what had just been read. This went on for abut 45 minutes and maybe because it was so early but I could not keep my eyes open. There were several study groups in different rooms depending on your age group and interests. Then they rang a bell and it was time for the late service (at 11) to start, which still seemed early to me! The worship service began by shaking hands with those around us and saying “God bless.” The worship service consisted of a few minutes of announcements, about 20 minutes of music, prayer, and a 45 minute lecture. The music was very different: at times everyone sang along and other times we just listened to the choir, they even had a band playing along with the choir. The Pastor then spoke about whether Christians were guaranteed salvation and he concurred that it is guaranteed for everyone as long as they do as the bible says and are “true Christians.” It was a bit uncomfortable for me because the pastor twice asked whether there was anyone present, who had not accepted Jesus Christ as his savior. I have accepter Christ but I could not help but wonder how I would have felt if I had not? I felt a bit singled out because I am not Christian per say and as it was obvious people knew that I was a guest at the church. After the lecture we prayed, and left the church.
Overall, I felt very welcome at the church and would love to attend another worship service, but this time I’ll get more sleep. I am really happy that I attended this church because it is not completely opposite of my own faith, but it is far enough to be out of my comfort zone. It is great to have options and know that there are other faiths that fall far from the big umbrella churches such as the Catholic Church, Judaism, etc.