“I came onto campus quote-unquote Lutheran.”
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Transcript for Buddhist Retreat
I came on to campus as a quote-unquote Lutheran. I was never, at any point in my life, really strong in my faith. It was just something…my parents went to church fairly regularly. Near the end of my high school career, they had kind of grown a little bit apart from the church, but it was always just something if someone asked, “Yeah, I’m a Christian, Lutheran, ELCA…et cetera, etc…”But then as I kind of got here and started studying a little bit more in depth of what I was claiming that I was quote-unquote believer in, I started seeing a little bit of discrepancy in what I believed and what the Church was actually teaching. So I’ve just been a passive observer of the religion, and once I took an active mindset to it, I really started to see some things I didn’t necessarily agree with, not necessarily thought they were wrong but stuff that didn’t really sit well with me. And so for a while there I just stuck with spiritual/borderline agnostic/just nothing/ I’m doing my own thing.
And then, when I went to Australia, I actually spend some time in a Buddhist retreat. We spent about a week and half there—meditating, learning, studying sustainability, and the spiritually aspect of sustainability, how people take care of the earth because a creator has given this to us and all of that. And I felt this overwhelming sense of, just, peace. I was completely calm, I was connected to the earth, I felt very much in tune with everything. I had never felt that way up until that point. So that was kind of the turning point. And really became connected with that.
And even when I came back, people where surprisingly receptive of it. I’ve spoken with professors, theology professors as well about it, and they’re really receptive. Students who are extremely devout in their religion here—Muslim students, atheists as well as Lutheran students, and other Christian students have been receptive. Obviously, we’ve got people who just don’t agree with that or have a little more narrow minded approach, but the vast majority of people I’ve met are very, very open to it, and usually, ask me more question about my religion or what I believe in or are very interested. “Oh, I’ve always wondered about Buddhism.” Or “Oh, that has been something that has always fascinated me. Can you tell me what you believe in? How does it work? What do you do?” Just really take an active interest in someone who’s different than them rather that put up a brick wall and say, “No, you’re not me. Get away.”