Dickinson College Humanities Program in Norwich

Try as I might, I can’t think of a clever name for this RELIGION BLOG…

September 21, 2010 · No Comments

Religion is something I always felt I should know more about, and this time in London has been an interesting opportunity to do so. I particularly enjoyed visiting the Hindu Mandir. Part of this is because I had never been to a Hindu temple before, and part was because, I think, of its presentation.

The volunteers at the Mandir were very kind and helpful, and I really enjoyed the Hinduism exhibit there. They assume, it seems, that most people who come to the temple do not know anything about Hinduism, and they are probably right. I didn’t really know much at all, aside from a few little details I have picked up over the years. I thought the exhibit was educational without being boring or preachy, and I thought it gave me a good perspective on Hinduism before the temple service. I think it is because of this attitude of openness that I enjoyed the Mandir the most.

I also enjoyed visiting the synagogue. I already knew some things about Judaism, but I still appreciated the crash course he gave us. I also really liked looking around a synagogue because I have only ever been in one once before. I think I benefitted from the interaction with our “guide” because he was interesting and earnest, and it seemed like he really enjoys teaching people about the synagogue. Plus, he’s had a lot of practice since school kids come there frequently for tours.

I loved the Christian buildings we went to, but we weren’t really there to learn about religion. With the cathedrals, abbeys, and churches, the tours were mainly geared towards the architecture and history of the buildings and the people buried there, rather than towards the actual religious ceremonies that take place there. At Westminster Abbey, we did learn a little about the royal ceremonies that occur and we did get to see Evensong at St. Paul’s, but, because the branches of Christianity are generally very well known about, it seemed as if the actual religious aspects of the churches were viewed as less interesting. It seems like the churches in London have become more secular than anything. They are burial places for great people and memorial sites for war heroes and the like.

The only religious building I was somewhat dissatisfied with was the mosque. This is not meant to disparage our guide or the religion in any way, but it seemed to me as if we were not welcome there. And maybe that’s completely fair. I certainly “didn’t belong” at the mosque, though I did my best to be respectful and non-threatening. But I don’t know much about the culture, so what I interpreted as stand-offish, defensive, or unwelcoming behavior may not be entirely accurate. I do wish we had gotten to learn a little more, though, because I still feel as if I don’t know as much about Islam as I would like. I did learn a little- and what I learned was very interesting- but it was mostly a refresher course, I felt.

I still feel like I need to learn more about religion in order to be a fully enlightened individual. I don’t like to be judgmental, especially without knowing all the facts, so I think I would definitely benefit from further study on the subject. But I’m glad we were at least exposed to these places of worship so that I can have a firmer grasp on the basics of these religions and so I can take stock of what I still need to learn.

Categories: 2010 Jessica

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