When you raise four children and throw in two more, you inevitably have many opportunities to participate in a variety of field trips. For a period of time our original four were enrolled in two different Christian schools where there were many more field trips and parents were
encouraged needed as sponsors. Some of my favorite trips through the years and three states included the Roman Nose State Park near Watonga, Oklahoma and seeing Dickens’ Christmas Carol performed at the Hobby Center in Houston.
As my days of school age children are nearing the end, I took advantage of two dwindling opportunities recently. One was to go with my son Jared, high school sophomore, and his Teen Leadership class, taught by Mrs. Lisa Fobian, of Taylor High School, to the Federal Courthouse in Houston. I will write more about this experience a little later, but it was far more interesting than it sounds! The other trip that both my husband and I had the privilege of tagging along on was in Dallas with our daughter Natalie, college senior, and her Living World Religions Class taught by Dr. Monte Cox of Harding University.
We met the 90 plus students in Dallas at their hotel on a Thursday night where we were given our instructions for the next day. The students were also asked to sum up their feelings in one word before we embarked on this tour of religious groups “foreign” to the predominately Christian group. Words like “fear”, “apprehension”, and “curiosity” were among those mentioned.
The next day we arose early, and began our tour with a Hindu temple. I learned that the Hindus believe in one god but that it takes on many forms and roles. The forms they worship are not the object of their worshipping rather the forms have attributes to remind them of what kind of attributes Brahman God has. They are big believers in Karma and that if you are “bad” that your Karma will catch up with you in the next life when your soul might return in the form of an animal or handicapped person.
The Hindu religion offered believers a positive response to the caste system in India. A system that was intended for vertical hierarchy based on your talents or profession was now turned horizontal where everyone was valued and no one was superior or inferior.
At lunch our family discussed how the “just do better next time” attitude of the Hindu would be comforting to the masses living in poverty; especially psychologically speaking. We contrasted this to the legalism vs grace filled Christian churches and the negativity that is spun from being in a fellowship of legalists.
Next we visited a Buddhist temple built for the Thai community. We listened to a follower discuss his journey to this religion while we observed the Buddhist monk who in his saffron colored toga style covering, predominately sit stoically on a raised platform off to the left of the Buddha image.
We were told that the Buddhist monks own four things: a robe, a razor, needle and thread to repair their robe, and a begging bowl. Monks no longer need a begging bowl as their nourishment is now dependent upon the sacrificial offerings brought by the followers. The monks will eat these offerings for lunch and that will be their only meal of the day. Someone had brought a Fanta soda as an offering and I wondered if it was offered by a younger person who wanted the monk to have a refreshing drink.
A key tenet is that we all suffer, but our suffering may be more than necessary because of our own attitude. They believe they should limit themselves to speaking only about what is truthful, beneficial and agreeable. Most of the time it is easier to be silent if limiting yourself to only speaking these things. I would agree with this wisdom as it echoes the following scriptures:
Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for buildingothers up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. Ephesians 4:29 (NIV)*
Jesus warned the legalists in his day with:
You brood of vipers, how can you who are evil say anything good? For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of. A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him. But I tell you that everyone will have to give account on the day of judgment for every empty word they have spoken. Matthew 12:34-36 (NIV)*
What struck me about both of these religious groups was the lack of community based on worship. Worship is not done together (or so it appeared), however it was apparent that other activities are offered which provide a sense of community. We were also told there is a self reliance among Buddhists. “Whatever I do, I do; what you do is your karma.” While I agree with self control and self responsibility, as a follower of Christ, I also believe that I am to assist and encourage my neighbors and especially those who are fellow believers.
Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers. Galatians 6:10 (NIV)
I am reliant on my Savior, Jesus Christ and upon the church he established to help me here on earth.
As usual, I am getting way too long on this post to expect you to finish it, but I want to share about our experiences at the other houses of worship we visited. I will follow up with a “Part 2” of this post and cover our visits to an Islamic Mosque, Jewish Synagogue, Bahai’ Temple and our delightful fellowship with the Sikhs.
In the meantime, tell me about your worship. What faith do you believe in? How do you and your fellow believers spend time in community? I would love to hear more about you and your beliefs.
(pictures were taken on my iPhone, so the quality is lacking, but they were taken with permission.)
*New International VersionNew International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.®Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.