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Monday, August 09, 2010


How can we know if there is something we call 'God'?

The second topic to discuss in my religion class was God's existence. The material to be discussed was from God. As you can see in the website, the discussion on whether God exists or not was viewed from Christianity. One student said that her parents taught her to believe in Jesus. She said that at the beginning, she believed in it only because her parents taught her so. However, recently, she said she believes in it wholeheartedly that only in Christianity she feels saved.

Below is a summary written by one student of mine.

In many cultures and religions, God is mentioned many times. God seems to be the entire reason a religion is made. There also many different representation of gods. He has become quite an important figure in the spiritual world.

In the scientific world, however, God's existence is challenged by the requirement of proof. Not many people can claim God does exist just by saying He should. The scientific way of truth is based on disproving lies and proving true physical claims, but cannot see spirituality.

It should be noted that in this world, much more people will believe something that has been proven physically, someone cannot claim a man with double joints once existed without proof.

That is the weakness of religions:: no proof. Therefore, God's existence cannot be truly proven. That is why I say I am slightly agnostic, I am not sure whether he exists.

Does he exist or not? Why doesn't he show himself literally to the entire world? Why the secret? Is he real? Why are there many of him? Too many questions, aren't there? Those are mine. If they all can be answered, I'll choose to be Christian, or atheist, or whatever comes to my mind, although then again, I am too lazy to do much.
When seeing the background of his spiritual life, although only a little -- his mother never seriously teaches him about religions. He claims he reads scientific books and not religious ones. Perhaps as this academic year goes on, I will be able to dig more about him. :)

I am absolutely on the contrary from him. My childhood was full of religious teachings, reciting Alquran, memorizing hadith, learning fiqh, etc. I must say that the teachings I got were very patriarchal; that is why as a child, in fact I got a bit hurt to learn that women were the weaker sex in the so-called truest religion, the most perfect one. My life experience as one victim in patriarchal society, combined with my spiritual experience, plus the readings I chose to read as an adult made me somewhat agnostic.

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Belief about God and Praying

The third week in my religion class, my students and I discussed ‘beliefs about God’. After we discussed the material I downloaded from this site , I led the discussion to the students’ weekly habit to go to church. There were only five students on that day. Three of them – girls – go to church every Saturday and Sunday. At first, their parents somewhat forced them to go to church. I am of opinion that this is the common way for Indonesian parents to introduce religions to their children. However, then, they admitted that after they grew older, they go to church because they want to; or even because they need to. Another student – a boy – did not remember whether he was forced by his parents to go to church when he was very little. The interesting thing from his experience is he said he often got bored when he was in the church. Yet, he feels sinful and he feels something missing in his life if he doesn’t go to church on Sunday. The last student – a boy – said that his mother never forced him to go to church. Nevertheless, he has experience to go to church for sure.

The following thing, I led the discussion to praying. “What does “praying” mean to you?”

Two girls said that they pray to God when they want some things to come true in her life. They believe that God is the only Being that can help them make their dreams come true. They also sometimes pray to God to say thanks to God after making their dreams come true. Another student – a boy – said that he hardly prays to God. He goes to church only to attend and listen to the sermons. One student – a girl – also said that she hardly prays to God. This is very interesting to me because during my experience as a so-called religious person, during praying five times a day, I mostly asked God to make my dreams come true; only sometimes I said thanks to God during my prays. :-p For me, praying five times a day – either at home or at mosque – is analogous with asking God to make my dreams come true. For this one student of mine, going to church does not always mean praying to God. Going to church means attending services only. Furthermore, she said, “For me, praying means communicating with God, especially when I have problems, I need someone to talk to, and God is the only Being I trust. This is very private and I usually do this at home, in my bedroom.” FYI, as far as I am concerned, she is an introvert person.

This is also very interesting to me because recently I start thinking that praying is none other than communicating with ourselves. What we dream will not come true if we do not do anything real as efforts. When the so-called religious people need a Being outside from themselves to talk to, I as a secular – or agnostic sometimes LOL – do not really need that Being outside me. I talk to myself! You can check my post at P R A Y I N G

When I said this to my students, one last student in the class – he admitted that he is an agnostic, the one whose mother never forced him to go to church – said, “Miss … I always talk to myself, most of the time.” Simply I said, “It means you ALWAYS pray!” LOL.

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Saturday, August 07, 2010

Truth in Religion Class

This academic year, 2010/2011, for the first time I am assigned to handle religion subject in my workplace. As the material to discuss in class, I download those provided at T R U T H Since this is an international school, we are not limited to discuss only one religion. However, because the six students in the eleventh grade are Christian/Catholic, according the personal information they gave the school, I decided to discuss Christianity first.

In the first week, we discussed TRUTH. As you can see from the abovementioned website, TRUTH is divided into five ways, aesthetic truth, historical truth, moral truth, scientific truth, and the last one is religious or spiritual truth. After we discussed it in the classroom, I assigned my students to write around a one-hundred word paragraph to answer the question “What do you know about truth?”

In this post, I chose two writings of my students that I considered outstanding.

In my opinion, truth is about reality and fact, something that is real and does exist. Why I say reality, it is something that is provable and shown and has truly happened with everyone agreeing in its existence; whether it is an event, an object, or a living being. Or Zeus.

In our current era, scientific truth is the most effective truth. Films are photos are no longer truth; mere words don’t always reach. Thanks a lot to photoshop. Other “truths” are not proving much, because modern era beliefs are far different from those the old era beliefs. Le prechaun, anyone?

However, the scientific truth has mostly brought down imaginations of the people; films get ridiculous, gets illogical, etc. for example, do aliens that are allergic to water exist? Will they attack earth which is ¾ water? Is this the truth? They are suicide.

The word ‘truth’ has actually lots of different meanings. When we hear ‘truth’ we generally think about facts that are proven and unbiased. As much as this definition is correct, it is not the only way we can define ‘truth’. Truth can also mean, especially in religion, something we believe in; or what we have faith in. For example, as a Christian, I may say that Jesus Christ is my ‘truth’, but there is no evidence that this is so; therefore non Christians may be skeptical about it.

In history, ‘truth’ has a slightly different meaning. Historians record what they think happened in the past from findings articles and artifacts. In a way, the historians create their own ‘truth’.

For me, though, personally, I think ‘truth’ is about what we know about ourselves, our beliefs, our world and our lives. It is what gives u a purpose to live.

Well, I must say that I enjoy this class perhaps because I consider my spiritual journey fulfilling enough. I want to share the similar stuff with those young students of mine.

Nana Podungge
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Tuesday, August 03, 2010


“Praying is none other than communication with ourselves.”

I happened to find this statement in one note of one online buddy on FB several weeks ago. A spiritualist, this is how he labeled himself. At that time, using my ‘present’ point of view I could see the ‘truth’ behind this statement. I don’t consider myself as a spiritualist though. As one can find in my profile information on FB, I wrote ‘a secular Muslim’ to label myself, although in practice, I am more to agnostic or deist. Anyway, what is labeling for?

In communicating with myself I can write in my diary, blogs, or even write to my loved ones – my other half, my good friends, even recently in statuses of my FB. I sometimes need my loved ones to reply what I have written. However, just writing to them something has been very fulfilling.

Or maybe not in the form of writing? For those who find writing difficult thing to do, just talk to ourselves, in our bedroom, in the restroom, on our way to somewhere (make sure still be alert to the traffic), when swimming, at the office (when you can spare time being alone).

Indeed, praying can be done anywhere and anytime. :)

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