Archive for October, 2010

My name is Greg Lyons, a junior at the University of Indianapolis. I am completing a degree in religion, and beginning a degree in English-education. I grew up in Indianapolis, on the east side of the city, and graduated from Cathedral High School. I was baptized a Catholic, raised in a Catholic family, and affirmed my faith through the Sacrament of Confirmation during high school.

Regardless of how I was raised, and regardless of the faith I follow, my interest in religions of all kinds stems from a natural curiosity to learn about and understand all I can about people of different faiths. The interfaith program at UIndy and its members have provided me with opportunities to satisfy my need for understanding.

Unfortunately, my involvement in the interfaith program at UIndy is limited for various reasons, but it plays a major role in every aspect of my life: academically, professionally, and, perhaps most importantly, socially.

Everything in our lives, as young people, revolves around the media, which in turn revolves around everything that is considered social, in particular, politics, which has become a religion unto itself. The Interfaith Forum, and the message it delivers, uses those areas of our lives: school, work, and social settings, and allows us to combine all three to work toward the goal of common understanding.

The purpose of interfaith learning is not to add an academic obligation, and certainly is not meant to be strictly maintained in the meetings or places of worship. It is a message; it emphasizes the need for acceptance and understanding in our communities. In all that we do in our community, whether it is school, sports, work, or spending time with friends and family, we can apply what we learn from the Interfaith Forum.

Religion is a terrifying realm to enter with strangers, and even more so with friends and family, but being knowledgeable and open to people of different faiths allows you insight that you would not have otherwise. It has the ability to strengthen relationships in any environment. As well as that, being a part of something that preaches acceptance will help you to discover beliefs you might be unaware of, and allow you to delve a little deeper into the mystery that is your self-actualization.

I have been blessed to be a part, albeit a small one, of this program. I will earn a degree in Religion, but that will mean nothing in my life if I cannot use what I have learned in the correct way, and the interfaith program at UIndy is a tremendous stepping-stone for anyone eager to learn about others and themselves.

Greg Lyons

Class of 2012

I am Ryan Ren, a senior student who majors in Finance. I was born and raised in China.  My parents and I have different faiths. I became a Christian in 2004 after being an atheist, which was influenced by my family and Chinese education. My mom has been a follower of communism since she accepted Karl Marx’s philosophy in college, but she was born and raised in a typical Chinese Buddhist family. My dad is a firm believer of Confucius. He quoted Confucius’ words to teach me and required me to read the Analects when I was a child. My dad wished his only son to believe in Confucius. However, he became disappointed and gave up his persistence when he failed to remove me from Jesus Christ. My parents and I have tried to convert each other, but eventually we realized that all the efforts we made were in vain. We wanted the other members in the family to believe in our own religions in the name of love, and we realized that true love is to respect others’ faiths. We know that, though we have different understanding of ultimate faith questions, our understanding of love is common.

 

That is my family. I’ll next talk about my hometown HangZhou. HangZhou has been one of the four major Buddhism centers of China since 326 AD. Also HangZhou has been one of the Islamic centers of China. The earliest Muslim Mosque was built in 618 AD in Hangzhou. That mosque still remains today and it is surrounded by two Buddhist temples . HangZhou also plays a significant role in the rise of Christianity in China. It was the hub of western missionaries in the early 17th century. Religions were banned in the Culture Revolution launched by the Communist Party during the 1970s- 1980s. Religious freedom was not allowed until the 21st century. Now people can worship at HangZhou without worrying about being persecuted. With the exception of the intervention of Communist party, there has been not a single interfaith conflict or war in HangZhou’s its 2200-year history. I have only lived in HangZhou for 18 years which are only insignificant parts of its long history. I went to CongYi Church to worship. Usually my Christian friends and I would go to eat at a Muslim restaurant near the Church after the service. Interestingly, there are also many Muslim restaurants around the major Buddhist temples. In high school, there were Buddhists, Christians and Muslims in my class, but we received a Marxist education which placed a high value on science and claimed that religion is a result of ignorance that is bound to perish in human history. The communist headmaster even discouraged students to be religious. As a result, religious students argued with the headmaster. Students within different faith background also argued with each other. But I still think that the other students and I with different faiths were still very good friends.

 

The concept of interfaith is pretty new to me.  I haven’t experienced much interfaith conflict in China, and I never thought about how people with different faiths could have lived in harmony with each other until I knew that there is an Interfaith Forum at UIndy. I used to take my harmonic interfaith environment for granted due to my ancestors, but now I think it is very important to make a deep inquiry into that. The conclusion that I get so far is that Chinese people are very practical. We actually don’t care much about others’ religious life, but we really care about how to live peacefully with each other in this life. The main theme of Chinese culture over the past 5000 years has been seeking diversity in harmony. However, that is just an early conclusion and I may adjust it as I make deep inquiry.

 

The Interfaith Forum gives me a great inspiration to be involved in interfaith endeavors . Also the Interfaith Forum lets me know how interfaith movements are acting in another part of the world and gives me a deep understanding of the difference between each religion. I think the United States is a free country with diverse cultures and faiths. The interfaith dialogue is really needed, which provides understanding that will reduce misunderstandings.

 

Yuhui “Ryan” Ren

Class of 2011

Chinese Student from Ningbo

“No religion has a monopoly on God.”  This was the most enduring quote from my visit to the Indianapolis Gurdwara Sikh Temple.  I went there with Mark, Faith, and Prem on Sunday, October 3, and upon entering, we were instructed to remove our shoes and socks, and also to cover our hair.  We were then escorted to an upstairs room during the service, where a man named K.P. Singh taught us about the Sikh faith. From him, I learned that Sikhs stress acceptance of all people as well as a life lived completely in God’s name.  “We do not believe in praising God once a day, or twice a day, or five times a day,” he told us. “We believe in praising God with each step, with each breath.”  Singh then informed us of some parallels between Sikhism and the Judeo-Christian faiths, such as the assertion that God created light and then used it to form the world.  He also stressed that people should strive for more than merely tolerance. “You tolerate a bug.  You tolerate bad weather.  But with people, you must not tolerate. You must accept and respect.” His words were inspiring, thought-provoking, and cast a magnificently positive light on Sikhism.  They stress peace, love, and perpetual faith, and it is clear that Singh is a man who lives by his beliefs. After our session with K.P. Singh, we were escorted back downstairs by his nieces, Dimple and Coco, where we participated in a prayer and ate a meal. Food is an integral part of their religious rituals, so it is fitting that the meal was delicious.  We said our goodbyes after we had finished lunch, leaving more well-rounded and knowledgeable than when we had entered. Overall, the visit to the Gurdwara Temple was an eye-opening experience, and I look forward to visiting again soon.

By Kenny Albee, Class of ’13

 

Todd Bryne

Posted: October 9, 2010 in Uncategorized

UIndy student Todd Bryne talks about his engagement with interfaith.