Religious Beliefs and Practices

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Religion is a structured collection of, thoughts, beliefs, rituals, value system, convictions, taboos, and cultures. Religion gives explanation about origin of humanity, and defines the guidelines for living a filling life through different beliefs and practices. (Santayana, 2014). United States is regarded as a Christian nation although it has incorporated various religions from all over the world.

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I took part in an active investigation of the beliefs and practices of Christians and Jews as groups of interest in the state of Arizona. I investigated the groups by firstly researching about the background of the religions and the fundamental beliefs and practices, interviewed three members of the respective religions after attending three social meetings organized by each group. This paper therefore seeks to report what I learnt that applies to the concepts I am learning in this course.

To begin with, according to Yong (2015), Christianity is founded on beliefs such as the Trinity (God the father, the son and holy spirit), the death and resurrection and ascension of Christ and the second coming of Christ famously known as the judgment day. Christian practices vary according to the denomination, but the common elements include Sunday services for worship, corporate and private prayer, bible study, reading and interpretation of the Scriptures, as well as partaking in rites like communion and baptism.

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Silverman, Johnson, and Cohen (2016) show that the Jewish beliefs are founded in the Jewish law (Halakhah) which has 613 divine commandments, the traditions, and the rabbinic laws. One of the famous Jewish religious practice is the eating of kosher foods. The practice contributes to religious identity and unity.

When I attended a Catholic church meeting on Monday the 22nd of January 2018 at St. Cecilia, Clarkdale at Arizona. The meeting was aimed at preparing for mass on Wednesday. I observed some practices in preparation. Firstly, there was a sign of the cross that symbolizes blessing oneself, the confession, the reading of the three scriptures, the apostle’s creed, the peace symbol, the holy sacrament, thanksgiving as well as the Lord’s prayer. Since I am a Catholic, I understood all of the liturgies.

After the meeting, I had an opportunity to interview one member, and this is an excerpt from the interview.

Q. What drew you to this religion?

I was actually born and brought up in this religion. My parents are both Catholics and they tell me, I was actually baptized and confirmed in this church. So, I have attended Sunday school, youth services and events and other important events of this church.

Q. What keeps your faith alive?

I can say that the constant guidance in the church and the small Christion groups have been very useful to me. We pray together, visit the less privileged and carry out other religious activities together. We also share and counsel one another in times of need.

Q. What misconceptions do you think people have about this religion?

I think most people think that the various symbols we have in the church such as the body of Christ, Christ on the cross and the bowing are idol worshipping. That is not the case.

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Q. What do you like most about this religion?

I like a lot of aspects of the religion such as the emphasis on small Christian groups, the teachings to various groups like the children, youth and the families as well as the practices like praying and visiting the sick and other needy people.

I attended a youth meeting in a temple (Koi Ami, Scottsdale) on Tuesday the 23rd of January 2018. The meeting was organized by the youth and was aimed at preparing a cultural celebration. During the meeting, I also noted some practices although I had to seek interpretation in a number of aspects. Firstly, there were paintings on the temple walls which had symbolic meanings, prayers were made in Hebrew which I don’t know and most importantly, there is no problem when you are not Jewish, you just stand when everybody stands and sit when everybody sits.

After the meeting, I had a chance to interview one member of the Jewish religion, and the excerpt is as below.

Q. What drew you to this religion?

I was not drawn here; I was born in this religion. My parents brought me to the temple teaching classes when I was young.

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Q. What keeps your faith alive?

I think it is our practice to keep strict adherence to the laws of the Jewish culture and religion to keep your faith strong.

Q. What misconceptions do you think people have about this religion?

I don’t think people have misconceptions about this faith, maybe because Jesus was a Jewish teacher.

Q. What do you like most about this religion?

I like the culture and the practices. I think the teachings; the commandments and the rabbinic laws keep the religion organized.

To sum it up, my participation in the above activity has helped learn aspects such as interpretation and reflexivity. I have been able to neutrally observe the two religious groups of focus and appreciate the existing diversity. I have also learnt that although the religions are different, they allow for interaction of culture and beliefs between them.

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Did you like this sample?
  1. Yong, A. (2015). Hospitality and the Other: Pentecost, Christian practices, and the neighbor. Orbis Books.
  2. Silverman, G. S., Johnson, K. A., & Cohen, A. B. (2016). To believe or not to believe, that is not the question: The complexity of Jewish beliefs about God. Psychology of Religion and Spirituality, 8(2), 119.
  3. Santayana, G. (2014). The Life of Reason Or The Phases of Human Progress: Reason in Religion, Volume VII, Book Three(Vol. 7). Mit Press.
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