Elvis Pilgrimage

Last week when we did the reading for Elvis Pilgrimage, I was a little unsure about it.  I know who Elvis is, but I was a little unsure about how this was a pilgrimage and how some people believed it to be a religion.  I found the reading we had to do very interesting and contained informational things.  I learned a lot about the Pilgrimage I would have known nothing about.  I found it interesting how this Pilgrimage doesn’t relate to other types we have studied about.  It has the things it needs to be considered a pilgrimage but I’m still not quite sold on the idea that the it’s a religion.

I understood better after our class discussion that some people really do believe he is like the “other” Jesus.  Some people believe someday, he could return.  When Jessica talked about how when you really think about it, that’s what people believe could happen with Jesus, it made me think about what I considered for the elements of this Elvis Religion.  It does have all of the elements for this to actually be classified as a pilgrimage but as for right now, I still can’t bring myself to consider this to be a religion.  I would be very interested to hear other people’s thought about what they classify it is and maybe there is information out there that could change my mind.

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Goddess Pilgrimages

We talked about this a couple of classes ago but I found this to be an interesting and difficult pilgrimage to understand all at the same time.  We had talked about all of these different pilgrimages and how men and women had the same opportunities and then we start read about a pilgrimage that is just for women.  It makes me wonder if there is a pilgrimage out there for just men.  After learning about all the pilgrimages we have learned about, I would guess there probably is.

After talking about this pilgrimage in class I have a little better understanding of it.  I understand now that this pilgrimage is a way of healing for the pilgrim.  Some people think of it as going on a tour somewhere.  In the article we had to read for it it said, “a tourist is half a pilgrim, if a pilgrim is a tourist.”  Which to me means that going on this pilgrimage, being a tourist in this kind of pilgrimage goes along with being a pilgrim.

The last thing about this type of pilgrimage is that although this type of pilgrimage might not be like all the other pilgrimages we have studied, it still follows Turner, Durkheim, and Eliade’s models in a few ways.  With Turner, it focuses a lot on communitas, with Durkheim it focuses with the things that are off limits or the taboos, and with Eliade it focuses on that sacred space.  The Goddess Pilgrimage was interesting to learn about for me because it wasn’t like the other pilgrimages we had learned about.

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Pilgrimage to Varanasi/Benares

A couple of classes we talked about another pilgrimage known as the pilgrimage to Varanasi or Benares.  This type of pilgrimage takes place in India along the Ganges River.  Like all of the other pilgrimages we have learned about, this is also a walking pilgrimage.  Within this pilgrimage there are five smaller pilgrimages.  The largest one is 168 miles in a round trip.  The second is 55 miles and takes about 5 days with about 100 or more stopping points.  The 3rd trip is 15 miles, which is the entire city of Varanasi or Benares.  The 4th is in 72 shrines inside the city.  And the last one is in the temple itself called Vishveshvara Temple.  This temple is also where all of the pilgrimages start.  Inside of the temple there are 72 shrines and you go around to each of these to complete the pilgrimage.

This type of pilgrimage is circular and is related to the view that things don’t have a beginning and end but are born and reborn again and again.  They have different axis mundis they worship on this pilgrimage known as, Puja which is an individual God one worships, Vishveshvara, which are the steps that lead down to the Ganges River, and another is a Lingum, which stands for a giant stone penis which is symbolic because it represents fertilization and birth.

So in one class we learned all of the information about what the Pilgrimage to Varanasi or Benares was and what took place and then in one of the next classes we actually got to watch a video on in which helped really lock in the information.

This to me was a very interesting pilgrimages to learn about because it wasn’t like other pilgrimages we had learned about.  The people didn’t travel to other places outside of their country to complete this pilgrimage, which was the biggest difference I recognized when learning about this pilgrimage.

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The Ganges Pilgrimage

Watching the Ganges Pilgrimage yesterday in class gave me a new way to look at what another type of pilgrimage can be like.  We have read, learned, and even walked through a pilgrimage on our own but the Ganges Pilgrimage seems to be very different than any of the pilgrimages we have learned about and I find that very fascinating.  The axis mundi is still there, just like any other pilgrimage.  Other things that are different about the Ganges Pilgrimage is they don’t have to live their city.  Some people don’t consider someone to make a full pilgrimage unless they leave their country and then return.  This one is in their city, and there are 5 different types of pilgrimages you can go on.

Not only was just learning how the Ganges Pilgrimage is different but also how they worship the Ganges River.  The people in India refer to the rive as Her.  They put a lot of emphasis on the river and how significant it is to them.  I found this interesting because it seems to me that each pilgrimage we have studied is about worshipping a different higher power.

I enjoyed getting to watch a another type of pilgrimage and I find it interesting the different types of worshipping that happens with each, but in it’s own way, each pilgrimage is similar.

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Non-Western Religions (Eastern Religions)

Today in class we started talking about Non-Western Religions, or Eastern Religions.  Like Western Religions, I didn’t know anything about Non-Western Religions so going into today I was excited to learn about Non-Western Religions.  The first major topic we learned about was the religions that are within Non-Western Religions, which are Hinduism, Buddhism, Shinto, Towism, and Confucianism.   There are 3 major points in Non-Western religions which are monistic, nonlinear, and praxis.  Monistic means there is one, non personal reality.  Monistic means that everything is one, the same thing.  Nonlinear means that Non-Western Religions see life as a circle.  And praxis means the religions focus on behavior.  This point isn’t focused on what you believe but how you behave.  These were just the three main points of the day but it was interesting to learn about another set of religions.

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On Tuesday we talked about the Islam religion.  Like Judaism, I didn’t really know much about the religion when we began talking about it.  We learned the five misconceptions of the Islam religion.  The first major misconception I learned from the discussion Tuesday was that when talking about this religion you don’t mix up the word Islam and Muslim.  These two words mean different things, Islam is the name of the religion and Muslim is the name of the person who worships the religion.  These two words aren’t interchangeable.  I felt like this misconception was very important.  The other 4 misconceptions were Muhammed is divine, which is saying he is God.  The next was the Koran promotes violence and oppression of women.  When people say they heard something like this from the Koran, 97 % of the time it isn’t true.  The other two misconceptions are all Muslims are terrorists and all Muslims are Arabs.  The last two misconceptions are very judgmental I feel because not everyone that is Christian are terrorists.  To me saying that all Muslims are terrorists is like saying that just because there are a few Christian people that are terrorists, all Christians are too.  I felt like this discussion really helped my understand a lot about what people might think about the Islam religion that isn’t true.

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Tuesday in class we started talking about Judaism.  Many of us knew nothing about Judaism so we started from the basics.  I liked being able to learn all the basics and not have known any knowledge about it before.  Looking back to class on Tuesday, I feel like I gained a lot of knowledge.  I learned Judaism has four main parts to the religion which are it’s a monotheistic religion, it’s a textual religion, it’s a religion of the land and it’s a ritual-orientated religion.  In the ritual-orientated part, one of the most things that I found most interesting was learning about the Kosher food.  Which was not being able to mix milk and meat products and other foods that were forbidden.

Today in class we talked about different holidays that are on the Jewish calendar.  Today actually happens to be the Jewish New Year, which is called Rosh Hashanna! The other Jewish holidays are Yom Kippur, Sukkoth, Hanukah, Passover, and Shavo’oth.

To me learning about Judaism is very interesting because it’s nothing I knew about and I like learning new things about different types of people and what their beliefs are.

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Unlikely Disciple

After finishing the book, Unlikely Disciple, and having class discussion about it the last two class periods, I have come to the understanding of how pilgrimage has fit into this book.  At first when we started talking about the two models, I thought I had a pretty good understanding of what each meant.  Now after we associated Unlikely Disciple with the models, it has made it more clear how someone sees what makes the models up.

I think Unlikely Disciple is a lot like the Turner model because Kevin Roose completes a pilgrimage and he goes through the cycle while doing it.  His life was changed by completing the pilgrimage at Liberty just like Turner’s model suggests.

Overall, this book was very interesting and I would recommend anyone to read it.  It opens your eyes on what’s out there and how other colleges are different.  Here in the midwest, we are our own little society all in itself, so to see what other parts of the United States are taught and what their beliefs are is very interesting.

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Interesting Fact

Yesterday in class I really liked learning about the center of the universe and the axis mundi.  When putting people’s beliefs into terms like that, for me it is a much easier understand and I can picture what the author is talking about more.  I found it interesting, especially in the drawings of where the world was in comparison to the heavens and the underworld.  I really liked the drawing one of the groups did of the heaven with the ladder to the earth and then another ladder connecting the earth to the underworld.  It was a good diagram for me to put into perspective where the world sat compared to the heavens and hell.

I liked when we were talking about axis mundi, how we made comparisons to how we have axis mundis in our homes.  Like a fire place or dining room.

Overall yesterday made it easier for me to understand the concepts behind the readings.  It was all very interesting to see how another person viewed religion.

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Religion in new terms

When I thought about religion before I started this class, the definition I thought of was beliefs and worshiping a higher power.  I thought that was a pretty good definition, until Jessica put into perspective about how her worshipping the Vikings fit our definition of religion.  It got me to thinking, worshiping a sports team isn’t a real religion so I thought well what is religion then? Now that we have had a few classes, I am now starting to understand different people have different views on what religion really is.  I was raised as a Christian so I have to remind myself that my views aren’t the same as many other people who study religion.  I have to say that I was rather disturbed when we were reading about Sigmund Freud. Obviously, his views and my views are very very different, but at the same time the way he defines religion doesn’t make me mad.  Those are his thoughts; I have mine.  Just because we have different views doesn’t make me not interested in why he thinks the way he does.  So far, I have been very open to learning how different people view religion.  It’s interesting to me people’s different opinions and I can’t wait to keep learning about them.

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