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Posts Tagged ‘religion’


I am supposed to be working on the next essay on my long list of homework assignments I wanted to complete before break ends. Am I? No. Instead I am taking a short break from researching two different pilgrimage sites and pilgrims to just type randomly here. Well, maybe not randomly. I am sure that if I keep thinking and typing long enough I will end up making some sort of point dealing with my essay assignment. I’ve certainly been thinking about it enough.

The assignment is for my Pilgrimages and Spiritual Journeys mid-term exam. I had three “essays” to write and this is the third and last one. It came as a prompt emailed out by my professor at the begining of the week:

Please review this ‘photo essay’ from NPR site:  after you have done so, do a little research on this particular pilgrimage and pilgrimage site.  Then, compare/ contrast the practices and experiences of the Guadalupe pilgrims (as evidenced in the photo essay) with the practices and experiences of the pilgrims to the site you presented (or will present) in class (this might mean a bit more research into your pilgrimage site).

100 Words: Photographer Alinka Echeverria On Pilgrimage

Seems easy enough, right? Wrong. The research I need to do has been about as productive as a wild goose hunt. There are very few articles online about the actual pilgrims who journey to either site. Most of the information I have found deals with the site itself and the history, not the people.

The information I have found is minimal and leads me to the conclusion that all pilgrims are similar. They may be heading to a different destination and hold varied beliefs. But, besides that they are all looking to experience the sacred and to find awe at the site they journey towards.

A pilgrim heading to the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City goes to pay homage and ask the blessing of the virgin Mary. Or they simply go because they are curious to see the Basilica and the apron worn by Saint Juan Diego upon which an icon of the Virgin Mary miraculously appeared.

A pilgrim heading to and through the levels of the Buddhist temple Borobudur in Java, Indonesia also travels to experience the wonder of the place. To observe the history engraved on the walls and to pay homage to the birth, enlightenment, and transcendence of the Buddha. There are also many who only come to view out of curiosity as tourists, some with more appreciation for the site than others.

Something both sites have in common is that once a year both places have a festival to which thousands of pilgrims flock. The festival at the Basilica occurs starting on December 12th with the Feast of our Lady of Guadalupe. The festival at and around Borobudur, known as the Waisak Festival, occurs each May on the night of the full moon and lasts several days. Both celebrate the people to whom the sites were dedicated to and festivities, including candlelit processions, happen at each.

The only major difference that distinguishes the pilgrims of Guadalupe from those of Borobudur is their religious beliefs, location, and how they look. Otherwise, in spirit, all pilgrims are the same. They travel to experience, learn, and pray.

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bizzaro-1.jpg from cartoonist.name – StumbleUpon.

I was stumbling along on the internet, as any self respecting and procrastinating college student would do, and found this absolutely amazing cartoon.

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It is 10:03 pm on a Sunday night and I have been sitting here in my friend’s suite for the past two hours reading about the Mormons and studying for my upcoming mid-term exam in Science and the Bible.

The former was an okay experience. For the particular segment of my assignment I had to read the first 35 pages of the book Building The Kingdom: A History of Mormons in America. The whole reading was mostly a brief history of how the Mormon faith was founded and ended with the mormons leaving Nauvoo because of threats and attacks.

In this reading there were a number of things I found the need to highlight that dealt with their beliefs. First of these was the concept of the Three Kingdoms of Heaven.

Those who believed in Christ and lived according to the commandments went to the highest or “celestial” kingdom. People of good will who did not accept the gospel went to the “terrestrial” kingdom. And the wicked-liars, adulturers, whoremongers- headed to the third kingdom, the “telestial.” …

… Even wicked persons had a place in heaven… Only those who denied the Holy Spirit and chose to give themselves to Lucifer rather than Christ went to the true hell…

The idea that anyone who accepts the Holy Spirit can still go to some sort of positive afterlife is a comforting thought. For those who would be condemned in the eyes of other christian denominations this ideal must seem so forgiving and welcoming.

My only question that may go against the positive feel of this concept would be:

Do other faiths fall under the category of a person accepting the Holy Spirit?

I would like to think so. To me the Holy Spirit is more related to holy energy that is all encompassing than belonging to one faith. I feel that the Holy Spirit is experienced by all peoples, just in different forms.

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Where do I want to go in my life? What do you want to be when you grow up?

I have been asked that type question so many times that it has become a part of me and yet not. Each time the question comes up I feel as though an answer is required.

Since elementary school I have been required an answer, even if I really didn’t know what I wanted. I would just choose and then convince myself it is what I wanted. When the time came to transition from high school to college I was once again asked several times on both paper and in person to say what my career/life goals were and what I planned to do with my education.

By this time I had gained some sort of idea of what I wanted to do with myself. I knew I wanted to get a higher education so that I could one day teach and help to guide others. I knew that I wanted to become a published, and hopefully widely read, author. But I was still working out how to go about that.

Now I have finished my freshman year and my career goal has become more defined. My answer to what do you plan to do when you graduated is: Keep going to school. I plan on graduating with a double major in Religious studies and English. I then expect to enter graduate school so that I can earn my masters and become a college or university professor. I would then like to continue as immediately as I can towards obtaining a doctorate in either of my majors (probably religion). Oh, and somewhere along the line I want to be able to write a book that others will want to read.

This answer is the one all the asking has finally lead up to and I am happy with it. I have a direction and a general path in mind. However, there are still so very many unknowns that I feel as though my life-plan is sturdy and yet unstable.

Was it a good thing for me to be asked consistently what I wanted to do with my future? If I had been left to myself and not asked would I have made the same decisions and come up with something similar?

Who knows. All I have is what I have learned about myself to this point in my life and the amazing people around me. What I can do now is only keep in mind that my future is not set in stone and my direction may shift.

To whoever would like to answer this question:

Do you know where you want to go with your life? Does the question need to be asked?

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