Things I Learned in College: Religion and Beliefs

Hello.

Today’s post will be a bit…different. In the sense that I will be touching on a subject that might offend people if I’m not careful with what I say. But it’s something that I’ve been thinking about for the last few years, and so I want to address it.

So if you don’t want to hear about what I have to say today about religion, then I kindly ask you to click away; you can check out my other posts for your pleasure (or not).

To start: just the following night, I was having dinner with one of my roommates. We were just catching up on life and all, considering that, although we live together, we have different schedules and lives, and so we don’t always have a lot of time to take a step back and talk to each other a whole lot. So that night was the time to relax and bond over food (another thing which I love :P).

In any case, over pizza, we somehow got on the topic of religion. Specifically, Christianity. Before I get into what it was all about, I want to note that my roommate is Christian, and that I am not. That being said, onward to the conversation:

My roommate started out by asking what I thought about the pastor’s sermon from the night before. A bit of context: I had gone out with her and another of our roommate, both of whom are Christian, to a fellowship meeting the day before. Even though I am not Christian, I went just to support them. It was a three-hour long meeting with singing, praying, and sermons- three things that I’m not comfortable with doing, but in any case I just sat back and observed.

I responded to my roommate’s question by saying that the sermon was nice: the pastor was articulate, passionate, charismatic. But the sermon felt long: while the neighbors around me were taking notes on what he was saying (which kind of surprised me), I found myself getting a bit bored with the talk: I felt that some of his statements were  repetitive, and that it went on way longer than it should have. Basically, what he was saying that “true” Christians are those who should go out and teach others about the glory and love of Jesus, the Son of God, as well as God himself. He encouraged the audience to participate in an upcoming event which requires them to go around campus and educate others about it. That was essentially his message.

I relayed with of this to my roommate, who nodded and was accepting of my frankness. Then the conversation started getting deeper, and I couldn’t help but continue trying to justify why I felt this way. About my mixed feelings toward Christianity, my mixed feelings toward religion, in general.

Some more background information: I grew up in a non-religious household. My family had never been religious, and so I never went to church on Sundays or anything like that. I didn’t even own a Bible, although from time to time I would take a look at it whenever hotels offered them in the bedroom or something during vacation. But reading it never really affected me; I just treated it as a very long book with a bunch of interesting stories in it.

It wasn’t until I got to college that I was suddenly exposed to the many religious clubs on campus: Islamic organizations, Jewish communities, and the many Christian sectors that advertised every day on my way to school, encouraging students to come out and check out their fellowship. Usually, I would ignore their invitations, since I wasn’t Christian and had no interest.

But one day in the beginning of my first year, my roommate (who’s still my roommate today) invited me to her Christian club for “Praise Night,” a night of singing and praying and socializing with other people. I decided to go to support her. It was fine, even though I didn’t know the tune and lyrics to the songs that the people sang (so I remained silent) and that I didn’t quite get the message that the guest speaker was saying during sermon. But I got to meet and talk to a lot of really nice people that night, and so it was an okay experience.

Over the next few years, I would sporadically attend my roommate’s Christian meetings, not really taking it seriously, but just to fill up my time whenever I was bored. Despite the fact that I didn’t believe in what the pastors were talking about during sermons and still didn’t know the lyrics to the songs, I liked the fact that the members were kind and welcoming to new people, especially those who, like me, were attending just for the heck of it. True, I couldn’t relate to the messages that the pastors would give like the others, who probably found them meaningful to them, but I went because I could socialize with people, and get out of my comfort zone.

This year, I’m living with three roommates in one apartment. All of them are Christians. They have invited me to some of their events, and I think that I’ve been to two so far. But still, I am not a Christian.

I had told my roommate all of this over dinner that night, and I was so nervous that I was going to offend her with my possible blasphemous ramblings about why, even though I continue to attend these events and everything, I do not associate myself with Christianity. I know that there are some people out there who might be offended by what I’ve said, and even try to persuade me otherwise to “give Christianity a chance.” To put it frankly, I find that a big put-off; I don’t want to be coerced into something that I am not comfortable with, and so the more pressure, the more that I resist. But I’m getting off-topic.

Thankfully, my roommate was cool with it; she has known me for almost three years, and so she knows how I am not Christian. I decided to end the conversation there, because it was getting too heavy for a dinner topic on a weekend night.

But still, I continued to reflect on it afterwards. I used to think that I was agnostic when I was younger, but now I’m not sure if that’s who I really am. I’m definitely not an atheist, and I don’t want to say that I’m “spiritual,” either. I know people who say that they are “spiritual,” but even that word itself is vague and to me, seems rather pretentious. I guess that if someone were to ask if I have any religion, I would say that I don’t believe in anything. My belief is that our lives are not controlled by God. Our actions, our decisions are not done through God’s love or purpose, but by ourselves and only ourselves. Sounds rather egoistic, but not in a bad way: we are responsible for taking care of ourselves, and just living our day-to-day life. That’s it.

I’m already saying way too much about this, so I will stop now. I just want to end by saying that I, while not Christian or of any religion, am accepting of those who are. My philosophy is that people shouldn’t define others based on their religious (or secular) beliefs, but rather on them as a person (i.e. personality, how they relate to you, etc.). So if you’re nice and open, then I’m cool with you. End of story. That’s how we get along in this big, crazy world.

That’s it for me. Peace.

– The Finicky Cynic

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9 thoughts on “Things I Learned in College: Religion and Beliefs

  1. I feel the same way, thus why i choose to spirituality because it is not a religion. well its not an organize religious institutions. I feel bad when when minds are the closed that they are not opened to other areas of belief just for understanding. And you can see how deep some of their belief goes and its shallow….

    the blind faith things is really dangerous..But you’re not alone. I too held many of these conversations!

  2. Great post.
    With what you said here; “My belief is that our lives are not controlled by God. Our actions, our decisions are not done through God’s love or purpose, but by ourselves and only ourselves.” is something I stand strongly by. And if I may be direct, you are absolutely right by ‘believing’ that.

  3. Hello. Brave post if you are worried others might take offense. It is YOUR blog, after all. 🙂 Religion was defined to me in college as simply “a system of beliefs” so if that suits you, then pretty much anything could be defined as religion (actually think that’s only part of it but that’s what I remember). I was raised in a Christian household but don’t follow their system for many, many reasons – only one of which is the strong pressure to “share” which ironically was what first started me critically thinking in my teens about the flawed system I was raised under (my opinion here of course). Kudos to you for continuing your own path despite any pressures you may have from friends and friends of friends. Its not always easy to think for yourself in the face of “an answer for everything” but you will be happier with yourself in the long run. Good luck!

    1. Oh! And yes, responsibility for one’s self is often glossed over when you can blame it on something/one else in a belief system… Takes maturity and courage to be responsible for your own life and your own actions, but I still believe it’s something everyone really *should* do.

      1. rebbit7

        Definitely agree! Responsibility is probably one of the hardest things to accept and do, but once done, it shows that one has matured/grown up and learned from those experiences. Well said!

    2. rebbit7

      Thanks for sharing your personal story with religion; I like how we can get a discussion out of it!

      I don’t actually have a “system of beliefs,” as you put it, but in any case I try to respect people on their character, religious or not. That’s how I see it. Thanks, again!

      1. Agreed, and good for you! There is absolutely nothing wrong with living your life in a way that makes you happy with it! I think anybody who disagrees with that statement is simply UNhappy with their own. Good luck!

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