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Junior Year World Religions

Junior Year World Religions

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Published by Patrick McCarty

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Published by: Patrick McCarty on Sep 30, 2010
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McCarty 1
Patrick M. McCartyWorld Religions, An IntroJanuary 24, 2010Professor Waldmeir Final Paper Through this class I was able to come to a better understanding about the religionsoutside my denomination of Christianity. Growing up Catholic in small town Iowa meant that Irarely met someone who wasn¶t Catholic themselves, and therefore my knowledge of other faithsremained quite limited. It wasn¶t until I came to until high school and college that thisknowledge began to grow and I began to look at the specifics of my own faith and compare themto others around the world. World Religions has opened up my mind to the ideas of many of thecore religions that exist today, but more importantly it has challenged me to grow in my ownfaith and understanding. Through our readings and daily discussions we were able to see howdifferent these religions were, while at the same time revealing several of their similarities. It ismy personal opinion that all of these religions contain some common truth and are striving to getus to the same ultimate goal in the end. This idea of Omnitheism has emerged in our lives tochallenge the specifics of religions today, and move to a more general spirituality. As stated inour final presentation I believe it is this general and personal spirituality that unites all of us,keeps us humble, and gives us the compassion that is just one of the common themes of allreligions. Keeping that in mind I will be comparing the Zen Meditation Center in Madison,Wisconsin and St. Mary¶s Church of downtown Dubuque and their respective religions of Buddhism and Catholicism/Christianity. This paper will strive to shed a light on the key
 
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components of these two sacred spaces that make them different, but also try to show thesimilarities that exist between the two as well.On our first field trip outing we visited St. Mary¶s church of Dubuque. This church was built in the 1800¶s and was predominantly a German Catholic church. It was a gothic stylechurch rich with paintings, statues, pictures, relics, and symbols. Central to this church and theChristian religion is the belief in Jesus of Nazareth as the son of God. One doesn¶t have to go far into the church before this simple carpenter is acknowledged as a dominant theme. The sidealtars, Stations of the Cross, murals, and statues all show Jesus throughout his life, death, andresurrection. This theme is so important because it plays a major role in differentiating from thesimilar religion of Judaism. In fact Christianity is a sect of Judaism differing in their views onGod and having a second and newer testament to the Holy Bible. This bible is the holy scriptureof the Catholic faith and is read from in all churches at mass. The theme of Jesus as our savior isfurther emphasized by the tabernacle, the crucifix, and the formation of the church.The tabernacle is the gold box that holds the consecrated host which has become the bodyof Jesus Christ. This tabernacle is the churches axis mundi because it is at the core of the faith.This religion teaches us to listen to Jesus¶ stories from the bible, follow his example, and worshiphim. It is only fitting that the box which is believed to hold his very essence should be respectedand honored so highly. At mass Christians receive the body of Christ as a reenactment of theLast Supper but also as an acknowledgement of accepting Jesus into our lives/bodies. Goingalong with this idea of acceptance is the crucifix which shows Christians the suffering and theMessiah endured for our sins. It is by Jesus¶ example that Christians try to form their lives andthe format of the church further emphasizes that point. The church starts with its entrance andleads into an area of pews. In the Catholic faith we must toil with other Christians here on earth
 
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while desiring to be closer to God. At communion we process to the alter and receive God in theform of consecrated bread and wine which represents our faith development as we come closer to God. Eventually in life we die and make our way to heaven. The steeples of the church pointthe way for us and it is this straight and upward line which is another key characteristic of Christianity and all faiths. Two themes came up in our analysis of the 5 core religions. Thesetwo themes were that of a line and a circle. Christianity falls into this idea of a line because thisfaith believes that there is one path to follow with a desired common goal at the end. Essentiallywe all start at point A at birth and we all want to end up at point B when we die. However somereligions, primarily the eastern religions, believe in the theme of reincarnation and multiple lives.This gives way to the concept of a circular flow of nature and life, but this will be discussedmore later.It is purely my opinion but St. Mary¶s seemed to be a great example of a problem Istruggle with in regards to this religion. St. Mary¶s is a large church full of rare relics, intricatestatues, and stain glass windows. The church is one of many Catholic churches and is nowclosing due to insufficient funds for upkeep and poor attendance. The problem that I have iswith the sheer amount of money that must have been spent on this church and the endlesschurches like it. Why when Catholics and Christians believe in loving one another and the last being first would we waste so much money on building these churches? Surely the ChristianGod is not obsessed with material houses where people worship him/her while there is so muchother suffering going on outside the doors of his/her house. I believe God calls us all to do our  best to help others and I do feel because I am blest that I should try to financially assist those lessfortunate, but I do struggle to accept this seemingly hypocritical idea in my own faith.

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