Archive for Sunday, August 26, 2012

Faith Forum: Is it OK to explore different religions when you move away to college?

August 26, 2012


The Rev. David Rivers, senior pastor, First Christian Church, 1000 Ky.:

Exploration is an indispensable part of the soul as it searches for the answers to some of life’s greatest questions, like “Is there a God?,” “Why am I here?” and “Who am I?,” among many others. The greatest writings conveying the relationship between God and humanity are the result of deep soul-searching.

Often, the age in which the deeper questions of the soul emerge happens at the same time that students leave the confines of home and are launched into a world that brings fresh challenges and opportunities. These come from every direction, and many embark on the voyage of soul-searching for years to come.

The concern of many Christians, perhaps other faiths as well, is whether exposure to other religions is dangerous for one’s faith. Perhaps. It depends on one’s perspective of the “evils” out there and God’s power.

On the one hand, I like how one theologian once said that God is actively “wooing” humanity to himself. If this is true, the exploration is in fact a journey toward the God who is wooing us back to himself. The end result is God.

Yet there are some who worry that exposure to other faiths may lead one away from their own. As a Christian, I must always remember that my tradition blossomed from Judaism. Jesus, a Jewish follower, invited humanity to come and follow him on a new way. This new way was the invitation of love — to love God with all that I am and to love my neighbor as well. Yet even in the time of Jesus, followers were entrenched in a culture with a multitude of religions. Therefore, they learned how to practice this new way that leads to life and, ultimately, God. So explore, question and find life!

— Send email to David Rivers at

Judy Roitman, guiding teacher, Kansas Zen Center, 1423 N.Y.:

This question is about what happens when you start living on your own. College has nothing to do with it. Permission from strangers writing in the paper has nothing to do with it either.

So suppose you’ve just started living on your own. Does your spiritual life fit? If it does, why would you want to look elsewhere? If it doesn’t, then you can put up with it anyway, look around for something else, or leave religion entirely. These are your options at any time in your life.

I used the word “fit” very carefully. A lot of people want a religion that makes them feel good. But if you go deeply enough into any religion, you will find yourself challenged, facing things that are difficult to face. That’s one of the basic purposes of any religion. It’s not about whether you feel good — it’s whether the religion (or lack of it) helps you look at the hard stuff.

If your religion fits, or if it doesn’t and you’ve started looking around at other religions or none, there’s nothing more to say.

But suppose you’re just going through the religious motions. A lot of people do. If it doesn’t bother you, no problem. But maybe you feel like you are drowning.

Then you need to do something. It can be very difficult. Your friends may not understand. Your family may not understand. You may fear becoming a pariah.

But it’s like gay people coming out. Some have it easy, some have it hard, but people who come out as gay very rarely regret it. Their life can feel whole.

That’s what I would wish for everyone reading this: that you feel spiritually whole. And if you don’t right now, that you find something — whatever fits, from monastic life to atheism — that helps you do so.

— Send email to Judy Roitman at


Paul R Getto 5 years, 9 months ago

Thinking is what college is about. Sometimes irrational faith is sacrificed as the intellect grows.

Ron Holzwarth 5 years, 9 months ago

"Is it OK to explore different religions when you move away to college?"

Of course! It's a field of study that is often overlooked. I can't imagine not having done that. It's fascinating to study not only living religions, but ancient ones as well.

Greek and Roman mythology should be studied when learning about those ancient cultures, because that was such a large part of it. And, it's very interesting to read about the ancient Egyptian religious concepts that were in vogue 5,000 years ago. That is, approximately 3,000 years before the Roman empire was was at its peak.

Why did the ancient Egyptians want to be mummified? Why were the pyramids in Giza built? Why were the pyramids in South America built? Where did our concept of a soul originate? When did monotheism come into mainstream religious belief? How was and is the Creation viewed as an explanation for where we are at now? What do the different religions claim is the correct eschatology? How were ancient cultures influenced by their religions, and how do the present religions influence our culture today?

If you're not looking into those topics, at least from a sociological point of view, you're not getting a well rounded education, that is a for sure.

Thomas Bryce Jr. 5 years, 9 months ago

Excellent Point Ron. It is obvious to most that the more you learn and understand a subject, The better the decisions you make for your self are. Totally agree in regards to Religion.Grew up as a Southern Baptist/Pentecost.Spent time reading about ALL the different factions of Western Christianity. Learned about Catholicism. Read a lot on Eastern religions. My Spirituality is based on truths from not one religion but many. No One religion has the monopoly on truth although there is truth in each religion. Finding them(truths) is the journey of a lifetime.

yourworstnightmare 5 years, 9 months ago

The more one studies religion, the more one realizes it is all fairy tail rubbish that should be studied as a museum piece but not as a serious moral or ethical guide.

Religious studies = atheism, so study away!

Thomas Bryce Jr. 5 years, 9 months ago

If Religious studies equaled Atheism, We would have a lot more atheist than we do.Religious studies are just searches for answers. I do not take the writings verbatim. They are meant to be analogies or moral lessons that can be interpreted many ways.Lessons in life have been transformed into stories or fairy tales as you say. The meanings will vary depending on the person and that persons experiences.No matter the story or who reads it ,there is always a message or lesson to be learned.I respect your choice to be an atheist.Please accept my choice to be spiritual. I always look for the good in people. Sometimes I am disappointed. That is no reason to give up.We all need to pull together,no matter what your Faith. We stand a better chance of survival as a people if we work together and put differences such as religion aside. I have family members that pray for me because I am not religious enough for them. I am OK with that. I have found what I need to be happy and productive in this life.I have learned to trust my feelings and believe in myself.

beatrice 5 years, 9 months ago

Is it okay to no longer believe in Santa Clause after the age of 7?

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