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Monday, September 20, 2010

Beliefs about God

In one session of my Religious Studies class, we discussed “Beliefs about God” in four religions: Hinduism, Islam, Judaism, and Sikhism. The previous week, we discussed “Beliefs about God in Christianity”. When getting the material, the students complained why they had to ‘study’ other religions than their own. (All of them adhere to Christianity except one student who said that he was an agnostic.) In Indonesia we have one well-known axiom “tidak kenal maka tidak sayang” or “if we don’t know one thing, we will not understand it, so we will not love it.” I used this as one reason.
In most schools in Indonesia, I am of opinion that the students get lesson about the religion they claim to adhere when registering, except those who study in schools that have label as Christian or Catholic or Islam schools. If a student studying in one Christian or Catholic school, although he or she is a Muslim, he or she has to attend Christian or Catholic class. Or if not the class, he or she is to attend the routine religious service. It also happens on the way around.
The school where I work now is an international school. This year we include ‘religious studies’ in the curriculum and we do not exclusively discuss only one religion.  I told my students that I expected them to understand the way people from other religions view their own religions, practice the religious teachings so that it will encourage mutual respect. Since most of my students are Christian and my background is Islam, we spent more time discussing these two religions. We just talked about Hinduism, Judaism, and Sikhism only based on the material I downloaded from
After the class was over, I asked my students to write a simple paper on their understanding of our discussion in the classroom. Below is one writing of my student who claims to be an agnostic.
There are many gods depending on the religions, so gods may vary. Since there are many religions, there are many gods. Since there are many gods, there are many swearing variations available (God xxxx it, Allah xxxx it) (please forgive my coarse language.)

Now to be serious.

Hinduism has many gods, there are three main aspects in this religion, and three gods. Brahma, the one who created everything; Vishnu, the protector in times of disaster or its like; and Shiva, the guy who blow stuff up. The main god, however, is called Brahman, the everything – except Indonesian community – is in him.
Islam, Indonesian’s religion and some terrorists, has one god, that is pretty much like a cheater in video games, and he is a pretty lonely guy too. He’s also got lots of nicknames. By the way, Islam religion’s heaven will never be entered by a guy like me because we have to remember Allah’s 99 names – 99 ARABIC NAMES! – we are screwed.

Judaism, like Islam, believes there is only one ***. It is but considered profane to use the nickname for their ***, so I will use ***. WOULD YOU PLEASE STOP IT? … Sorry for being satirical, this G-d is described as a pretty good guy, and that he is everywhere and can do anything, the prayer, Shema can give you an accidental feeling of being concentrating on Hashem’s something …

Sikhism, which I’ve never heard, has a god that is rather controlling, and has MANY names. Since I have limited knowledge of Sikhism, I will stop here.

Christianity, most abundant religions? Or just in Europe? It centers around god and Jesus Christ, but I have limited explanation except that it is not very different from other religions with the exception that the gods have specific names now, and a son too.

If I sound offensive to most of these religions, then I am sorry. I have never been feeling religious since the age of 10.

In the end, in my opinion, I believe that everyone should choose what they believe and tolerate others, but must not rely on their god, we must be independent, we are an entire species, after all. If we keep relying on beings above the sky, what will happen? And religion is currently hindering modern world, anyway. 

I opine that this particular student must feel lucky to have me as the teacher in his religious studies class. LOL. I just laughed loudly when reading his writing. Likewise, I also feel lucky to have him in my class. LOL. When the first time he said, “I think I am an agnostic, Miss. It is based on my own contemplation after reading books.” I directly told him, “Oh, we are on the same boat, then.” And since then on, we always have interesting discussion in this particular class. :) Before this, he was somewhat a quiet and shy boy to me. But recently, he is somewhat outspoken. :)

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