Sunday, April 6, 2014

Religion Post 21

Hello! I can't believe it's been over 21 weeks... Well anyways, these past two weeks I've researched the two Islam belief systems- Shi'a and Sunni.  While they have a lot of similarities, they also have some significant differences.  Islam split into Shi'a and Sunni when the Prophet Muhammad died.  His followers had to decide who would succeed him and be the leader of Islam. Shi'ites said Ali, and Sunnites chose Abu Bakr. While Islam was interesting to learn about, I still don't think it's the right religion for me.
There is a Mosque near Grosse Pointe, but I didn't get a chance to go these past few weekends as I've been super busy, and I'm going to be really busy the next few weekends, too.  Hopefully eventually I'll be able to go check it out.  I did read that I would have to wear a headscarf, and I'm not sure where to get one or how to wear it, but I'm sure it wouldn't be too hard to figure out!  I just want to make sure I wouldn't be disrespectful if I went.
Before this week, I knew I was going to talk about why kids should look into religion on their own during my end of the year talk.  Recently, I decided that I should also talk about the benefits of knowing more about other people's religions.  There is hatred all the time toward people of other religions.  But if we took a little more time to figure out why they do what they do and uncover what makes it so mysterious, it wouldn't seem as strange.  People might be more accepting of each other.
So today I challenge you to go find out about a religion that seems weird to you!

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Religion Post 20

Hi!! These past two weeks I learned about Mormonism and Christianity. There wasn't a ton to learn for Christianity because I was raised Christian Catholic, but I decided to look into it anyways to see if there was anything I didn't know.
Well, I'll start with Mormonism. It's not for me, but it was pretty interesting. It was founded in New York, but now the headquarters is in Utah, and there are 12.2 million adherents.  I found a Mormon temple in Bloomfield Hills, but it's not open to the public. Most temples are open to the public for tours for about a week after it is built or renovated. This temple was built in 1998, so I guess I'm a little late.
For Christianity, there are a ton of different denominations.  They all have a lot of the same basic beliefs, with slight differences.  Again, none of them totally fit my beliefs.
I've been thinking a little more about my end of the year talk, and I still don't know how to expand on what I want to talk about.  I also don't think I'm going to reach my goal of visiting the places of worship of seven different religions.  Lots of them aren't local or I can't go to because I'm not a practicing member of the religion.  Hopefully I'll be able to attend one soon, though!

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Religion Post 19

Hello!  This week I researched Jehovah's Witnesses, and I was all set to write all about it, when I realized that anyone reading this probably doesn't want to read me list facts about random religions all the time, when you could easily just look them up on your own.  So I'll just leave it at this- Jehovah's Witness is not for me.
Also, from now on, I'll be posting every other week, so I'll have researched two religions next time I post.
So, I haven't been able to attend any sort of religious service yet.  This is because I want to research the religion before I attend a service, and I'm kind of going in order of the sheet I posted a picture of a few weeks ago.  And so far, none of the religions I have researched have accessible places of worship.  So hopefully I'll find one soon!
I'm still pretty nervous about this speech.  Eight minutes is a super long time to have to talk, and while I have a general idea of what I want to talk about, I'm not so sure I'll be able to talk about it for eight full minutes.  I want to talk about why it's important to research different religions and choose one that fits your beliefs rather than those of your parents, but I don't know how to expand that concept into an eight minute or more talk. Hopefully I'll be able to figure that out eventually.  But that's about all for this week!

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Religion Post 18

Hello! This week I researched Zoroastrianism, but before I talk about that, I'm going to answer the questions Mr. Provenzano asked us.

1) What have you liked most/least about 20 Time?
          What I've liked most about 20 Time is the ability to do something that I enjoy. I like being able to take some time out of my week and all the boring schoolwork to do something fun. I don't know if there's something I like least about it. Maybe the fact that I have to give a talk about it at the end of the year which will probably be pretty scary. I also wish we would've had a little more time to figure out our projects.

2) What would you have done differently with your project?
           I kind of wish I would've thought of my current project a little earlier, instead of spending 5 months on a project that I ended up not caring about and changing. I could've learned about so many more religions if I had started with this earlier. But at least I thought of it eventually!

So now I move on to Zoroastrianism. Here are a few quick facts about the religion: It was founded in 6th century BC in Ancient Persia by Zarathustra, and there are 150,000-200,000 adherents. It's sacred text is Avesta ("Book of the Law").  The religion isn't aggressively monotheistic, but they do believe in one supreme God.  It is a very ethical religion, and teaches that people are free to choose between right and wrong, but their choices will determine their eternal destiny. There is room for mistakes, and these mistakes can be cleared by either confession or the transfer of supererogatory merits, which is the basis for Zoroastrian prayers and ceremonies for the departed.
Zoroastrians believe in an afterlife that depends on the ratio of good to evil. If you have done more good than evil, you will go to heaven. If your evil outweighs your good, you will go to hell.  If the two are balanced, there is in intermediate stage in between.
Some Zoroastrian practices include purification, penance, Yasna, the sacred fire, burial rights, the Tower of Silence, and festivals. There are three types of purification including padyab, nahn, and bareshnum, which is "a complicated ritual performed at special places with the participation of a dog and lasting for several days" (  Penance includes reciting the patet which says that you will not sin again and confessing your sins to either a dastur or an ordinary priest.  Yasma is a chief ceremony that is the sacrifice of the haoma (the sacred liquor) and takes place before the sacred fire.  The sacred fire is kept burning continually and fed at least 5 times a day.  Prayers are also said 5 times a day.  5 seems to be a common number, because during burial rights, a dog is brought to the corpse 5 times a day. Once this ceremony is completed, the corpses are brought to the Tower of Silence where they are kept naked and exposed. It takes vultures just a couple hours to strip the skin from the bones, which are then swept to the central well.  Festivals are very important in Zoroastrianism, and there are 6 seasonal festivals per year.
Well, that's the basics of Zoroastrianism! Unfortunately, I'm pretty sure there aren't any Zoroastrian temples anywhere near me, so visiting one won't really be possible. Hopefully soon I'll find a place of worship that fits with a religion I'm researching!

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Religion Post 17

Hello! So, this week I researched Jainism.  I'll talk more about Jainism itself in a minute, but I was researching Jain Temples, and found out that there is one in Farmington Hills, which is only about a half hour away.  However, I don't think I'll be visiting the Jain Temple because I couldn't find out much about proper etiquette when going to Temple, and I don't want to be disrespectful to Jains by making some huge mistake when I'm there.  Maybe if I can get more information I'll eventually make a trip out there.
I'm also pretty worried about the speech at the end of the year. I'm thinking I might want to talk about why it is important to let kids branch off and pick their own religion, rather than just following what their family or friends believe, but I'm not totally sure. Also I'm not so good with public speaking, so it should be interesting.

**If you would like to learn about Jainism, read on. If not, stop here.**

Anyways, here are some quick facts about Jainism: it was founded in Eastern India in 550 BC by Mahavira, there are 4 million adherents, and its main location is India. Also, the place of worship is a Temple, the religious leaders are called Monks, the sacred readings include the teachings of Mahavira, the language is Sanskrit, and the purpose of life is to gain liberation from the cycle of rebirth.
Here is some information I found about Jain beliefs. "Jains believe that the universe and everything in it is eternal. Nothing that exists now was ever created, nor will it be destroyed. The universe consists of three realms: the heavens, the earthly realm and the hells" (  Living beings are called jivas, and nonviolence (ahimsa), the fundamental practice in Jainism, extends to all jivas. There are 8.4 million species of jivas, and they are separated into 2 main categories: immobile and single sensed, and mobile and multi sensed. Within immobile and single sensed, there are 5 subcategories which include earth-bodied (clay, sand, metal), water-bodied (dew, fog, ice, rain, ocean), fire-bodied (flames, hot ash, lightning), air-bodied (wind and cyclones), and plant-bodied (trees, seeds, roots). There are both single soul and multi soul plant-bodied jivas.  While all jivas have souls, only human jivas can rid themselves of karma and achieve full liberation (moksa).
Karma plays a huge role in Jainism. There are 2 types of karma: ghati (destructive) and aghati (non-destructive). Ghati affects the soul and aghati affects the body. Bad actions mean aghati karma, of which there are four types: happiness-determining, body-determining, status-determining, and longevity-determining.
There are 3 possibilities after death: being reborn with another physical appearance on earth, going to one of the eight hells, or joining liberated souls in heaven. Unlike most images of hell, the Jain hells get colder and colder as they get lower.
Here are some quick facts about Jainism: it was founded in Eastern India in 550 BC by Mahavira, there are 4 million adherents, and its main location is India. Also, the place of worship is a Temple, the religious leaders are called Monks, the sacred readings include the teachings of Mahavira, the language is Sanskrit, and the purpose of life is to gain liberation from the cycle of rebirth.
I know this is a lot, but there's more! Now, if you're not all asleep already, I'll talk about some Jain practices. Monks and Nuns live very interesting, but probably difficult, lifestyles. They follow "Five Great Vows", along with many other rules. These vows include: non-violence (ahimsa), truth (satya), non-stealing (asteya), celibacy (brahmachanga), and non-possessiveness (aparigraha). While the lifestyle of Monks and Nuns is very intense, the lifestyle of any Jain follower is only slightly less intense. Monks are expected to be homeless, wear very little clothing, beg for food, shave their heads, and much more. Also, most Jains follow non-violence to such an extreme that they are unbelievably careful not to inhale bugs or step on ants, etc. They have utmost respect for all forms of life.
Jains worship at a temple.  This worship may include chanting or gazing at pictures of religious figures.
Jains also meditate in order to achieve a peace of mind. They do so by chanting mantras, which are very important in Jainism.

Well, that's all I have on Jainism! There's tons more, though, so if you're interested in it, I used, but there's also information on wikipedia, bbc,, and tons of other websites.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Religion Post 16

Hello everyone! So this week, I figured out which religions I would be researching, and I also researched Scientology, which was pretty interesting, but definitely not for me.  I used my evernote notebook to take notes, so here is the list of religions I'll be looking in to!!

Sorry it's a little blurry! So hopefully I'll research one or two of these a week and share my findings with you.  I probably won't find a religion that I'm willing to commit to in just a few months, but you never know!
So this week I learned a lot about Scientology, which is one of the most controversial religions out there.  Many people go so far as to call it more of a cult than a religion.  Also, a lot of famous people are Scientologists, such as Tom Cruise and John Travolta.  I'll start off by telling you a few facts about Scientology.  It was created in 1954 by science fiction author L. Ron Hubbard.  There are 77,000 Adherents, it is located mainly in the Western United States, and the texts include Dianetics and Scientology by L. Ron Hubbard.  The spiritual leader is called an auditor, and the place of meeting is a church.  Scientologists believe that the purpose of life is to gain spiritual freedom by ridding one's mind of engrams.  They also believe in reincarnation.  Special days include March 13- Hubbard's birthday, May 9- publication of Dianetiecs, the 2nd Sunday in September- Auditor's Day, and October 7- the annual meeting of the International Association of Scientology.  Also, Scientology has 8 Dynamics: self, creativity, group survival, species, life forms, physical universe, spiritual dynamic, and infinity.  Next, I would go on to write all about their beliefs, but instead I think I'll just post a picture of my notes. 

Sorry the "Xenu" notes are crooked... I'm not sure how to fix that.  Oh and speaking of Xenu, most Scientologists deny that the whole Xenu thing ever happened.

Some Scientology practices include gradual learning, auditing, and silent birth.  Gradual Learning means that "material must be learned in a definite order, never skipping to material which is overly complex before it is called for" (Wikipedia). Auditing is when "an Auditor addresses a series of questions to a preclear, observes and records the preclears responses, and acknowledges them" (Wikipedia). Auditing is often seen as being very controversial because these conversations are recorded then stored in Preclear Folders.  Lastly, silent birth is "the process of childbirth where labor and delivery is done in a calm and loving environment" (Wikipedia).  Everyone in the room during the birth is told not to make any noise while it is happening.  

So, that's Scientology in a nutshell! There's a lot more to it, but I couldn't write all of it down.  It's definitely an interesting religion, but like I said before, not for me.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Religion Post 15

Hello! I know it's not my normal update day, but I have some important news. I am officially changing my project.  I just really wasn't excited about the mosaic anymore, I was getting close to nothing done because my free time was during the weekend and I'm usually up north during the weekend (transporting a mosaic would be very difficult), and there was no way I was going to find enough china to actually make it.  So I'm starting a new project that I am much more excited about!  I will now be researching different religions.  I was raised catholic, but I recently realized that I really don't think I'm catholic. Their belief system doesn't really match my beliefs, and honestly, it's all a little too far fetched for me.  However, I decided that before I call myself not religious, I should look into some other religions.  So that is what I'll be doing the next few months. I will research religions online, then attend a service that corresponds with a religion I've been researching if possible.  My new goal for this project is to attend at least 7 different services and to find a religion that fits my beliefs.  I know that goal is probably a little out of my reach because some people spend their entire lives researching religions, but that's okay. I'll probably fail and I've excepted that... I mean, I failed my first project, why not make it 2 for 2? Well that's all! And you may have noticed that along with changing my project, I also changed the theme for my blog. I wanted a complete switch from my ok project.  Hopefully this one will be more enjoyable and doable!