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    Matters of Faith Find a New Prominence on Campus

    Matters of Faith Find a New Prominence on Campus
    By ALAN FINDER
    Published: May 2, 2007

    Peter J. Gomes has been at Harvard University for 37 years, and says he remembers when religious people on campus felt under siege. To be seen as religious often meant being dismissed as not very bright, he said.

    No longer. At Harvard these days, said Professor Gomes, the university preacher, “There is probably more active religious life now than there has been in 100 years.”

    Across the country, on secular campuses as varied as Colgate University, the University of Wisconsin and the University of California, Berkeley, chaplains, professors and administrators say students are drawn to religion and spirituality with more fervor than at any time they can remember.

    More students are enrolling in religion courses, even majoring in religion; more are living in dormitories or houses where matters of faith and spirituality are a part of daily conversation; and discussion groups are being created for students to grapple with questions like what happens after death, dozens of university officials said in interviews.

    A survey on the spiritual lives of college students, the first of its kind, showed in 2004 that more than two-thirds of 112,000 freshmen surveyed said they prayed, and that almost 80 percent believed in God. Nearly half of the freshmen said they were seeking opportunities to grow spiritually, according to the survey by the Higher Education Research Institute at the University of California, Los Angeles.

    Compared with 10 or 15 years ago, “there is a greater interest in religion on campus, both intellectually and spiritually,” said Charles L. Cohen, a professor of history and religious studies at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, who for a number of years ran an interdisciplinary major in religious studies. The program was created seven years ago and has 70 to 75 majors each year.

    University officials explained the surge of interest in religion as partly a result of the rise of the religious right in politics, which they said has made questions of faith more talked about generally. In addition, they said, the attacks of Sept. 11 underscored for many the influence of religion on world affairs. And an influx of evangelical students at secular universities, along with an increasing number of international students, means students arrive with a broader array of religious experiences.

    Professor Gomes (pronounced like “homes”) said a more diverse student body at Harvard had meant that “the place is more representative of mainstream America.”

    “That provides a group of people who don’t leave their religion at home,” he said.

    At Berkeley, a vast number of undergraduates are Asian-American, with many coming from observant Christian homes, said the Rev. Randy Bare, the Presbyterian campus pastor. “That’s new, and it’s a remarkable shift,” Mr. Bare said.

    There are 50 to 60 Christian groups on campus, and student attendance at Catholic and Presbyterian churches near campus has picked up significantly, he said. On many other campuses, though, the renewed interest in faith and spirituality has not necessarily translated into increased attendance at religious services.

    The Rev. Lloyd Steffen, the chaplain at Lehigh University, is among those who think the war in Iraq has contributed to the interest in religion among students. “I suspect a lot of that has to do with uncertainty over the war,” Mr. Steffen said.

    “My theory is that the baby boomers decided they weren’t going to impose their religious life on their children the way their parents imposed it on them,” Mr. Steffen continued. “The idea was to let them come to it themselves. And then they get to campus and things happen; someone dies, a suicide occurs. Real issues arise for them, and they sometimes feel that they don’t have resources to deal with them. And sometimes they turn to religion and courses in religion.”

    Increased participation in community service may also reflect spiritual yearning of students. “We don’t use that kind of spiritual language anymore,” said Rebecca S. Chopp, the Colgate president. “But if you look at the students, they do.”

    Some sociologists who study religion are skeptical that students’ attitudes have changed significantly, citing a lack of data to compare current students with those of previous generations. But even some of those concerned about the data say something has shifted.

    “All I hear from everybody is yes, there is growing interest in religion and spirituality and an openness on college campuses,” said Christian Smith, a professor of sociology at the University of Notre Dame. “Everybody who is talking about it says something seems to be going on.”

    David D. Burhans, who retired after 33 years as chaplain at the University of Richmond, said many students “are really exploring, they are really interested in trying things out, in attending one another’s services.”

    Lesleigh Cushing, an assistant professor of religion and Jewish studies at Colgate, said: “I can fill basically any class on the Bible. I wasn’t expecting that.”

    When Benjamin Wright, chairman of the department of religion studies at Lehigh, arrived 17 years ago, two students chose to major in religion. This year there are 18 religion majors, and there were 30 two and three years ago.

    At Harvard, more students are enrolling in religion courses and regularly attending religious services, Professor Gomes said. Presbyterian ministries at Berkeley and Wisconsin have built dormitories to offer spiritual services to students and encourage discussion among different faiths. The seven-story building on the Wisconsin campus, which will house 280 students, is to open in August.

    At Colgate, five Buddhist and Hindu students received permission to live in a new apartment complex on the edge of campus this year. They call their apartment Asian Spirituality House and they use it for meetings and occasional religious events.

    The number of student religious organizations at Colgate has grown to 11 from 5 in recent years. The university’s Catholic, Protestant and Jewish chaplains oversee an array of programs and events. Many involve providing food to students, a phenomenon that the university chaplain, Mark Shiner, jokingly calls “gastro-evangelism.”

    Among the new clubs is one created last year to encourage students to hold wide-ranging dialogues about spirituality and faith. Meeting over lunch on Thursdays in the chapel’s basement, the students talk about what happens when you die or the nature of Catholic spirituality.

    Called the Heretics Club (the chaplains were looking to grab students’ attention), the group listened to John Gattuso talk about his book, “Talking to God: Portrait of a World at Prayer” (Stone Creek Publications, 2006), a collection of essays and photos about prayer in world religions.

    “Do you need to believe in God in order to pray?” Mr. Gattuso asked.

    The discussion was off and running, with one student saying one needed only to believe in “something outside yourself” and another saying that “sometimes ‘Thank you’ can be a prayer.”

    Afterward, several students talked about what attracted them to the sessions, besides the sandwiches, chips and fruit. Gabe Conant, a junior, said he wanted to contemplate personal questions about his own faith. He described them this way: “What are these things I was raised in and do I want to keep them?”




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  2. #2
    Godeskian is offline I have taken all knowledge to be my province. User Rank
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    Re: Matters of Faith Find a New Prominence on Campus

    That's good. College is a good place for expanding ones views and exploring religion because a: You are presumably more or less mature, and thus capable of looking at the information with a critical eye based on your worldviews, and b: You are presumably away from the direct influences of your parents, so you are free to form your own opinions without pressure to follow in a family mold.

    Although I note that a lot of the article talks about finding spirituality without necesarrily finding religion. I find that an interesting and very real distinction.
    Close your eyes, but keep your mind wide open.

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    Re: Matters of Faith Find a New Prominence on Campus

    Quote Originally Posted by Godeskian
    Although I note that a lot of the article talks about finding spirituality without necesarrily finding religion. I find that an interesting and very real distinction.

    Do you agree with Sam Harris' ideas on spirituality...?

    ...that is..if you've read his books.

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    Godeskian is offline I have taken all knowledge to be my province. User Rank
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    Re: Matters of Faith Find a New Prominence on Campus

    Quote Originally Posted by bibleman
    Do you agree with Sam Harris' ideas on spirituality...?

    ...that is..if you've read his books.
    Sorry, I have no idea who Sam Harris is. Let me google him and get back to you.
    Close your eyes, but keep your mind wide open.

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    sojustask's Avatar
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    Re: Matters of Faith Find a New Prominence on Campus

    Quote Originally Posted by Godeskian

    Although I note that a lot of the article talks about finding spirituality without necesarrily finding religion. I find that an interesting and very real distinction.

    It is. The Pharisees were very religious but not spiritual. Religion is not a spiritual walk. It's a mans walk and set of beliefs. One can be religious without being spiritual. Dead in spirit, lukewarm etc...

    A spiritual walk is the act of walking with something or someone outside of your physical being. One can be spiritual without being religious. There are many kinds of spritual walks.

    Namaste'

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    Godeskian is offline I have taken all knowledge to be my province. User Rank
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    Re: Matters of Faith Find a New Prominence on Campus

    Okay, from my brief search I found two things of his I like (along with a few I don't)

    Harris acknowledges that he is advocating a form of intolerance, but not, as he puts it, the kind of intolerance that led to the Gulag. Rather he is arguing for a conversational intolerance, one in which we examine people's convictions to see if they really scale with the available evidence. He feels that the time has come to demand intellectual honesty right across the board, and confront the prevailing taboos which, in his view, prevent us from openly criticizing religious ideas, beliefs, and practices.[2]

    Harris observes that these are essential rules which underpin progress in every other field of knowledge. He notes that we are rarely admonished simply to respect someone's views on, say, physics or history; instead, we both demand reasons and expect evidence. Anyone who fails to substantiate their viewpoint, or resents questioning, is quickly marginalized from the conversation on those topics.
    Here I agree completely

    Regarding spritualism his Wiki says

    Harris also wishes to recapture spirituality for the domain of human reason. He draws his inspiration from the practices (but not the metaphysical beliefs) of Eastern religion, in particular that of meditation. By paying close attention to the empirical phenomena of one's moment-to-moment conscious experience, as described principally by Hindu and Buddhist practitioners, Harris suggests that it is possible to make our sense of "self" vanish and thereby reach a hitherto unknown state of personal well-being. Moreover, Harris argues that such states of mind can and should be made subject to formal scientific investigation, without incorporating the myth and superstition which he feels so often accompanies meditational practice in the religious context.
    I'd be interested to see the result of the formal scientific investigation he wants to see on the topic.

    Which book of his would you reccomend?
    Close your eyes, but keep your mind wide open.

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    Godeskian is offline I have taken all knowledge to be my province. User Rank
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    Re: Matters of Faith Find a New Prominence on Campus

    Quote Originally Posted by sojustask
    It is. The Pharisees were very religious but not spiritual. Religion is not a spiritual walk. It's a mans walk and set of beliefs. One can be religious without being spiritual. Dead in spirit, lukewarm etc...

    A spiritual walk is the act of walking with something or someone outside of your physical being. One can be spiritual without being religious. There are many kinds of spritual walks.

    Namaste'

    Lady Mod
    Interesting viewpoint, and not too dissimilar from my own views on religion and spirituality. I suppose I consider myself slightly spiritual, and totally non-religious.
    Close your eyes, but keep your mind wide open.

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    Re: Matters of Faith Find a New Prominence on Campus

    Quote Originally Posted by Godeskian
    Which book of his would you reccomend?

    End of Faith

    Letter To A Christian Nation



    The latter is basically a response to the feedback he got from his first book...
    But both are interesting.

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    Re: Matters of Faith Find a New Prominence on Campus

    The End of Faith is the more in depth book and takes a broader view of religion and it's affects on society along with Harris' views on spirituality.

    The excellent Letter to a Christian nation is really a sustained attack on Christianity and although quite a short book for the money I highly recommend it.
    I am currently reading --- White Jazz - James Ellroy

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    Re: Matters of Faith Find a New Prominence on Campus

    this quote about harris,-"Harris suggests that it is possible to make our sense of "self" vanish and thereby reach a hitherto unknown state of personal well-being"- does seem to imply that the description of the spiritual path thru any type of religious doctrine is NOT necessary!?that the spiritual reality of freedom from self/other harm/blame can be experienced outside any doctrinal education!?and that science if it can make the state repeatable would develope a universal doctrine that explains everything that can be thought of!?and that it would become a requirement of normal education to experience this state of MIND to ensure a socially stable and cooperative/peaceful world!?that eventually supercomputers will be able to probe/ask the individual a series of questions and formulate from the answers an immersive virtual reality thru visual and/or implanted techniques to guarantee a successful transition to the acceptable behavior created by the contented/enlightened mind of man!?this contentment a result of the experiencing of that state of mind beyond/above/separated from the learned/modeled state of ignorance man is now under due to inheritance/birth/influences!?call that state unconditional love!?and since it is unconditional!?that means no conditions/words/explanations needed or expected!?there are no questions/doubts/requirements to consider!?IT JUST IS!!and thus the epicurian delima/paradox is also solved!?for to be outside this special state of mind is to be lost in an ever more complex misunderstanding of existence!?easily swayed and convinced of anything under the sun!?while simultaneously seeking thru whichever chosen opinion found and followed to create the same state of opinion in all to TRY and guarantee the very things found(total interactive cooperation!?) only in that SPECIAL state of mind FREE from opinions!?hehe!!.....just askn.....

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    Re: Matters of Faith Find a New Prominence on Campus

    Quote Originally Posted by lexx
    this quote about harris,-"Harris suggests that it is possible to make our sense of "self" vanish and thereby reach a hitherto unknown state of personal well-being"- does seem to imply that the description of the spiritual path thru any type of religious doctrine is NOT necessary!?that the spiritual reality of freedom from self/other harm/blame can be experienced outside any doctrinal education!?and that science if it can make the state repeatable would develope a universal doctrine that explains everything that can be thought of!?and that it would become a requirement of normal education to experience this state of MIND to ensure a socially stable and cooperative/peaceful world!?that eventually supercomputers will be able to probe/ask the individual a series of questions and formulate from the answers an immersive virtual reality thru visual and/or implanted techniques to guarantee a successful transition to the acceptable behavior created by the contented/enlightened mind of man!?this contentment a result of the experiencing of that state of mind beyond/above/separated from the learned/modeled state of ignorance man is now under due to inheritance/birth/influences!?call that state unconditional love!?and since it is unconditional!?that means no conditions/words/explanations needed or expected!?there are no questions/doubts/requirements to consider!?IT JUST IS!!and thus the epicurian delima/paradox is also solved!?for to be outside this special state of mind is to be lost in an ever more complex misunderstanding of existence!?easily swayed and convinced of anything under the sun!?while simultaneously seeking thru whichever chosen opinion found and followed to create the same state of opinion in all to TRY and guarantee the very things found(total interactive cooperation!?) only in that SPECIAL state of mind FREE from opinions!?hehe!!.....just askn.....

    Huh???
    Where did he say all this...?
    I was following you when you were reiterating Mr. Harris' ideas of stripping spirituality of its dogma, but all this talk of computers and world truth and all that...where'd he say that?

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    Godeskian is offline I have taken all knowledge to be my province. User Rank
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    Re: Matters of Faith Find a New Prominence on Campus

    this bit
    Harris suggests that it is possible to make our sense of "self" vanish and thereby reach a hitherto unknown state of personal well-being
    Is from Harris' wikipedia article, I dont know where the rest of it's from.
    Close your eyes, but keep your mind wide open.

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    Re: Matters of Faith Find a New Prominence on Campus

    Quote Originally Posted by Godeskian
    this bit
    Is from Harris' wikipedia article, I dont know where the rest of it's from.

    I understand that...
    But lexx seems to be adding a bit of his own ideas here...unless I missed something major...? Or he's trying to draw the concepts to their conclusion...?
    Guess I'll have to wait 'till he responds.

  14. #14
    Godeskian is offline I have taken all knowledge to be my province. User Rank
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    Re: Matters of Faith Find a New Prominence on Campus

    A perfectly reasonable thing to do, to take someone's writings and extrapolate. Especially as I don't have mr. Harris' home phone number to ask him what he thinks :)
    Close your eyes, but keep your mind wide open.

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