My experience with this class was definitely a positive one, and one that helped me approach an outsider’s point of view with a lot more ease. I have always struggled with being able to view religion as a social institution with cultural and political influences as well as a center of my own personal faith, and although I believe I have been able to become better at approaching my faith with openness and careful observation, I believe I still do have a problem, especially in approaching certain areas with a completely unbiased perspective. The five qualities worth having in the academic study of religion are those of openness, honesty, critical intelligence, careful observation, and critical tolerance. Again, out of those five I believe that I am best at being open in the area of religion; I have learned that accepting the fact that I may be proven wrong in an area of belief is not necessarily something that should shut me down, but should encourage myself to keep on growing in both knowledge and faith. For example, I was rather surprised to learn that the apostles weren’t really the ones who wrote the Gospels; however, being able to accept that as an outsider actually helped me appreciate the text and its purpose much more. I also think that I am better at being able to carefully observe, read, and listen; I’ve always liked analyzing things, so it was never a big problem for me. Being able to do that, I feel, can really benefit a person in understanding the different cultural, political, and historical points of view that shapes religion, and how religion in turn shapes them. However, I do feel like my weakest spot in the five qualities is that of honesty, or more specifically, being unbiased. This isn’t to say that I do not recognize my own bias and understand that I will be influenced by my own points of view, but I do feel that it is harder for me to acknowledge any internal prejudices I may have due to my beliefs. Though I have gotten better at this as time goes on, it’s still a struggle, and I sometimes find it hard to set aside my own pride in order to recognize that hey, I might be wrong.
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