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Discovering the real meaning of religion
Some students consider themselves religious, while others do not. Some frequently reflect over religion and what it means to them, others never give it a second thought.
But what is religion, really? According to philosophy Professor Ben Page, religion is a way of relating oneself to the broader context of life, of the universe and to all that has unfolded since evolution or creation in a way that provides a context for one’s own experience of life.
“For some this is summed up as a relationship with the divine, the sacred, or God; for me, the entire universe,” he said. “All of life is sacred. We’re part of a sacred drama that we have no right to end or destroy, no right not to share as equitably as possible.”
Andrea Borsini from Branches, the Catholic organization on campus, said religion is a guide to the way a person chooses to live.
“Religion to me is having that guided way of moral living and reasoning,” she said. “Having faith in something or someone.”
She also said that right now religion is a foundation to build upon, a consistent something to turn to besides her family.
“I think for a lot of students religion is irrelevant,” said Eric Marrapodi, member of Christian Fellowship, a Christian organization on campus. “Many students view religion as something their parents are into, but it has no real application in their lives.”
Jonathan Kroll is the president of Hillel, the Jewish organization on campus. He said that for the majority of students religion is just something they grew up with to give them some sort of values and morals.
“Religion plays a minor role on campus, but in the same respect a very powerful role,” he said. “For those that choose to attend those types of events, they benefit a great deal. For those that don’t, they tend to miss out on any spiritual connection at college.”
Maya Sobolev, vice president of spiritual events at Hillel, said Quinnipiac is not really a religious campus, but that the opportunities are here for people who might want to experience their religion on a different level.
“It’s not that I am religious,” she said. “I don’t think I am, but I have respect for my background.”
Borsini said that if a person believes in something, he or she should really, truly believe in it to the best of his or her ability.
“People should believe in something because they want to, not because others tell them to,” she said.
Sobolev said that a lot of students are scared of religion.
“It’s very hard for college students to get involved in these kinds of things,” she said.
Sobolev said that while Rabbi Steven Steinberg holds traditional Jewish services, she tries to do more fun things to get students involved.
“We are using the prayers in more song-type ways so [students] feel more comfortable,” she said. “Sometimes it is good to just reflect on the [past] week.”
Hillel is not limited to students of a strong faith.
“Students do not have to be Jewish to come to Hillel events or meetings,” said Sobolov.
Even Branches is open to students of all religions.
“Branches is a great opportunity for anyone who wants to learn or is exploring their faith and wondering why it is we believe what we believe,” said Borsini. “Branches allows for questions, discussions, development and learning. It allows me to develop myself as a person as well as a Christian.”
Sobolev said she would like to see more cooperation between Hillel, Branches and Christian Fellowship, the Christian organization on campus.
“I would like to see [the groups] do something together,” she said.
Kroll said he would like to see a more active student body in terms of religious programming.
“Maybe instead of religion, ecumenical spirituality needs to be explored to get students more interested,” he said.
Marrapodi said he thinks the religious groups on campus do as good a job as they can with what they are given.
“Faith Week has been incredible for the past two years, but I would like to see more expressions of religion on campus,” he said.
Page said he would like to see more shared reflection and perhaps retreats open to any, not just people of a particular religion, and not only students. He also suggested a meditation room at the center of the campus.
“Not a chapel or place to be used for services,” he said. “Just a place to step outside the merry-go-round for a few minutes, to get one’s head, heart and gut together.”