This is the last installment of a semester-long series that documents my exploration of faith on the University of Rhode Island campus. The goal is to sit down with every religious community on campus and learn about their religion and community.
I started this series in the beginning of the semester for one reason: I wanted to find a religion that was suitable for myself, one that I could see myself practicing.
However, I knew my biggest obstacle in buying into any one religion would be belief in its scripture. I think belief is an obstacle that many people my age face, especially if they grew up in a secular society without religious families around them, like myself.
There are so many benefits of practicing a religion that I felt I was missing. In all the religions and communities I explored – Islam, Catholicism, Judaism and Buddhism to name a few – every one of them had benefits. The greatest benefit to me was the structure and guidelines of living a moral life.
Before I started this series, the lack of morality in everyday life really bothered me and still does. You can look at nearly every aspect of life and see exploitation and greed. Even the purest aspects have become profit-driven.
In today’s world, we have to pay thousands of dollars just to learn. We can be stripped of the most essential elements of human survival based on our wealth, color of skin and where we live (i.e. Flint, Michigan’s water supply). This lack of morality scared me. I don’t want to spend my whole life valuing money and material objects, more so than I do my family or aspects of life that are truly important. How could I grow up in this environment and not fall victim to the same trap?
I thought religion might help.
I thought it would provide me with a guideline to keep my priorities and values in line. All of the religions I explored do offer this. The strictest religion seemed to be Islam. If I were to fully commit myself to Islam, that would mean I would be praying five times a day, resisting drinking, smoking and premarital sex (which are some of my favorite things to do in my free time) and fasting for one month a year. All of this I could see myself doing. Islam’s strictness is appealing because it seems like it leads to the progression of people.
Also, the Muslim revival is pretty cool. Many young people are flocking toward Islam for a reason. But, again, belief remains my greatest obstacle. I would have to read the Qu’ran and understand the scripture before I would ever commit. Out of all other religions I explored, I connected with Islam the most.
The other religions I explored have admirable aspects as well. I love the community and cultural aspects of Judaism. And Buddhism seems pretty great because it isn’t about belief, but practice. It shows people how to deal with conflict and be in touch with themselves and their emotions at a very high level.
For the time being, I will continue on my path with the goal of living a moral life. I do feel like one day, I will come to a point where I commit to a religion. But for the time being, I’m just wingin’ it.