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Every human being on this earth possesses a worldview, though they may not know what it is they still have an idea of what they believe in. A worldview makes up what we feel think, and act upon regarding situations in our lives. I believe that the environment that one grows up in has a lot to do with their worldview. Growing up, I never got the chance to fully understand the worldviews of other religions because I was surrounded by Catholicism. Now being older, I realize that the world is filled with a vast variety of customs, philosophies, beliefs, cultures, and lifestyles. These ideologies make contrasting assumptions about the world, and produce views that differentiate the world in a diverse way.
As my interviewee I decided to pick Debby Gibbons, a 53 year old Catholic woman who is an ex-nun. In her teenage years she joined the convent and pursued that for another 17 years. While being a nun she had to follow the traditional rules, and everything was ‘black and white”. As she matured and got older she started to realize what her values were, and she found this is out by travelling the world. She left the convent because she thought she would be a better Catholic outside than inside. She also knew that this wasn’t something she wanted to do for the rest of her life. She doesn’t regret it and enjoyed every moment, but says you grow and things change. She also stated that she wanted to do more for others and felt held back while being in the convent. Gibbons talked about her experiences travelling, and all of the conversations she had with people which led her to believe that she doesn’t have the right to tell people what they should and shouldn’t engage in.
For example, if someone wants to have an abortion Gibbons says that her own beliefs would be set aside, because she doesn’t believe that she has a say in someone else’s decision. She says, “I’m here to live, and help people and to enjoy life but enjoying life has to be aware of others around me”. Her worldviews derive from Catholic teachings, and she continues to practice her religious rituals. Some rituals that she engages in are praying/going to church, baptism, confirmation, first communion, lent, and confession. She doesn’t sit down and pray every day, but she does think about it. Some religions have set times, and as a nun she prayed the divine office (morning, mid day, afternoon, and evening prayers and sometimes in the middle of the night) which was called maintenance. Since leaving the convent and establishing her own worldviews she still identifies with being a Catholic, but sometimes strays away from some of the traditional rules that she once had to follow when she was a nun.
As we have learned, every religion is different in their own way regarding values and rituals. Many religions even break into subsections and I believe that evolution is the cause of these variations. Next, I will be looking at Hinduism and Catholicism and will be distinguishing the diversity between them both, as well as delving into both of their worldviews.
Hinduism is an Indian dharma practiced mainly in the Indian subcontinent and in southern Asia. Hinduism contains a wide variety of philosophies. It is also linked by cosmologies, texts, and rituals. It has four important main goals: karma, artha, dharma, and moksha. Each goal is more important than the one before it. Individuals who are a part of the Hindu religion believe that truth is eternal and that gods can take on many different forms. However, all of these gods form into one universal spirit called Brahman. “Hindus believe in Brahman as the one true God who is formless, limitless, all-inclusive, and eternal.” Brahman stands for reality and truth, and they believe that he is not an abstract idea but they view him as a true entity that encompasses everything in the cosmos.
There are many similarities between Hinduism and the Roman Church (Catholicism). The first difference is that Hinduism advocates for tolerance and the main teaching is that all religions are on different paths that guide to one goal and one ending. Hinduism welcomes all religions as valid. However in Catholicism, Jesus Christ is the only path to reach God and true salvation. In addition in relation to the scriptures Catholics state, “Our salvation has nothing to do with our attainments, efforts and native beliefs. In salvation we do not find God through our own ingenuity. Rather, God finds us as we respond to his loving mercy in Christ as evidenced on the cross. The embrace of Christ as Savior and Lord can never be touted as cause for human triumph, smugness or self-assertion. It is not a sign of our superiority, or cause for triumphalism efforts in society”. Catholicism and Hinduism both have very strong views towards certain disputed topics, though they do have similarities their differences stand out much stronger.
Another main difference between Hinduism and Catholicism revolves around the topic of homosexuality has been extremely controversial and every religion has a stance on whether they believe in it or not. In the Roman Catholic church, homosexual acts are defined as ‘intrinsically immoral and contrary to the natural law”. Catholicism does not view homosexual orientation as a sin, however they have a very negative stance and believe that if you’re homosexual you have an internal evil. In contrast, Hinduism has no central power and any LGBTQ matters will vary at different ashrams and temples. There are some hindu communities that are not as welcoming, however the GALVA (The Gay and Lesbian Vaishnava Association) reports that Homosexuality, The Third Gender, and Hinduism is a world mirroring an indigenous subtle and spiritual truth. The Vedic culture allows transgender people to live openly regarding their gender identity. Debby Gibbons grew up not knowing anyone who defined themselves as homosexual. She states that she never lived in an environment where it was socially open. Since travelling the world she says, “ I went to Chicago and met people, and took the time to sit down and talk, instead of judging them for who they are, it changes you”. Debby Gibbons now views homosexuality in a positive light and even though she strays from the church laws she doesn’t believe she loses her faith, however she emphasizes that she grows from her faith.
Considering abortion, “The Roman Catholic Church teaches, ‘Human life is sacred because from its beginning it involves the creative action of God and it remains forever in a special relationship with the Creator, who is its sole end. God alone is the Lord of life from its beginning until its end: no one can under any circumstance claim for himself the right directly to destroy an innocent human being’ In Catholicism, abortion has always been condemned and viewed in a negative light, and all forms of abortion procedures are against natural laws. The Catholic faith believes that all life is holy from conception until natural death. In contrast to Hinduism, there is always a matter of choice, but the Hindu way suggests that you choose wisely so that you do the least harm to everyone involved. Dr Aseem Shukla states in his blog, “As with any moral, ethical, personal or spiritual question, any injunctions or edicts are anathema to a Hindu. It is not that Hinduism is ambiguous in its abhorrence of abortion, but it is always put forth as a matter of choice”. In Hinduism, it is said if you choose abortion, you will receive bad karma that you will live with for your lifetime or the next.
Another topic is life after death. In reference to life after death, as a Catholic, Debby believes that there is a heaven and a hell, as well as the purgatory. Purgatory is the place between heaven and hell. She explained that when you go to heaven you are reunited with everyone you love, and you get there by doing your best on earth and if you’re not a good person you will go to hell. She says regarding Catholicism, “You get one shot, you either make it or you don’t”. You have one life, and you have to live strictly in that way. In contrast, with Hinduism you will be reincarnated into something else or someone else over and over again until you “get it right” and live your life successfully. The Hindu teachings regarding life after death state that, “Most Hindus believe that humans are in a cycle of death and rebirth called samsara. When a person dies, their atman is reborn in a different body. Some believe rebirth happens directly at death, others believe that an atman may exist in other realms”. Hindus believe in karma and that good or bad actions will lead you to a negative or positive life.
Debby Gibbons talks about the importance of confession in the Catholic church. Confession is, “The basic requirement for a good confession is to have the intention of returning to God like the ‘prodigal son’ and to acknowledge our sins with true sorrow before the priest”. Gibbons says, “I’m Catholic, confession helps me not carry guilt around, and it is an important psychological thing that the church provides. Confession taught me to be compassionate.” Gibbons says that she goes to confession once a year with her two children, and if needed would go to confession more than once a year. Many Catholics make an attempt to acknowledge sin in their daily words and actions. Gibbons talked about two kinds of sins: actual sin which people commit, and venial sin. Mortal sin is a deadly offense against God, so horrible that it destroys the life of grace in the soul. This could be something very serious, like murder or rape. In order for classification of a mortal sin, the person committing the act must know what they are engaging in is evil. You should always go into confession with an open mind and conscience Gibbons says. After confession the Priest assigns you a penance, such as saying the Hail mary a number of times. Confession is the special way to have your sins forgiven. This sacrament is extremely powerful because it gets rid of Catholics guilt and weaknesses, and helps them live a balanced life.
I define myself as an atheist and so does my immediate family, but after my talk with Debby Gibbons I decided that I wanted to try going to confession and assimilating myself into the Catholic faith to truly understand how Gibbons lives her life. When I was younger I did attend a Catholic middle school where we engaged in masses and once a year had to do confession. I was baptized and had my first communion, and confirmation but have not had an religious experiences since. It was interesting to see how confession was like now being 19 years old, instead of being in 8th grade.
I went into the sacrament of confession at St. Peter’s church near the downtown loop campus with an open mind, and I found it to be a fascinating and spiritual experience. Confession is a beautiful aspect of the Catholic religion, and it is said to completely get rid of all your sins making you feel free and renewed. It’s an experience that can arise many emotions, and it brings you peace, tranquility, and healing. Getting to talk to a priest one on one and engage in confession again was honestly uncomfortable at first but as the session went on I felt like I started to open up and could truly reveal what I believe I have sinned, and I felt the forgiveness that Debby Gibbons says she has felt.
In conclusion, Michael Kearney says, “The world view of the people is their way of looking at reality. It consists of basic assumptions and images that provide a more or less coherent, though not necessarily accurate, way of thinking about the world. A world view comprises images of self and of all that is recognized as not-Self, plus ideas about relationships between them, as well as other ideas”. Kearney is trying to have the reader understand that every ideology has its own motives that come from their own personal needs or community needs and this forms a type of reality that people live by in whatever religious group they are a part of. A world view contains its own value and almost every person in the world has a religion of some sort, and with these assumptions they possess validity and truth of that value.
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