Dickinson College Humanities Program in Norwich

This Blog is like Religion to Me. I Recognize How Unfunny that Joke is.

September 21, 2010 · No Comments

In this blog I’ll just give disjointed thoughts about the different places of worship which we have visited and then thoughts on our in class conversations regarding religion. First off, I really loved the Bath Abbey. It was tremendously impressive without the pomp of many of the other places we visited. It was not so heavily touted, there was no security. It was unimposing. It was geared toward humbled devotion to God rather than self-aggrandizing homage to England’s greats, and, therefore, to England itself. Westminster Abbey and St. Paul’s Cathedral are guilty of this fault in my opinion.

The Mandir was another great experience. Marble is one of my favorite materials both for its look and feel. The hand carvings were also astonishing and I liked that we were a part of the ceremony. It was, for me, the most moving of all the religious experiences we had. I think it was especially powerful for me as it provided calm in our hectic time in London. I would like to go out to the lawn by the bubbling fountains and sit and think. We were told that the building was constructed without the use of manmade materials and I don’t know if that was it but it was a relaxing, peaceful experience.

St. Paul’s was breathtaking, the most impressive of the buildings in my opinion. The way the dome construction opens up the whole building sets the cathedral apart from Westminster Abbey (not to hate on Westminster, which was lovely.) You can soak in much of the majesty of the building all at once. It is rather overwhelming, but extremely impressive.

The mosque and synagogue did not have the aesthetic appeal of the other religious buildings we visited. The mosque visit was unfortunately short although I believe it offered a valuable insight into the perspective of the faith toward Americans. It is a jaded perspective but not unjustly so. The short duration of the tour combined with the women who pulled down the shades when they saw us in the hallway speaks volumes about the wariness towards our presence. Not, in my opinion, a word about the Islamic faith in general. That is to say that I don’t believe the Islamic faith to be closed to the public any more so than other faiths.

This reminds me of a class discussion we had in which it was put out there that our guide in the mosque was defensive about his faith and toward the questions he was asked. The evidence which was cited to support this idea was his references to similarities between Islam and Judaism and Christianity. I believe it would be more correct to simply see Islam, Judaism and Christianity as three streams which come from the same river and flow into the same sea. Not to get too metaphorical.

Categories: 2010 Michael · Churches and Cathedrals

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