Secular Sightseeing.

As may be noted by the distinct amount of procrastinating I did when it came to posting this blog, it brought me to wondering this,

“How can it be, that in such a place of religious history and diversity, is it so hard to settle on a topic for a religion-based blog?”

But really though, I’ve been racking my brain for days about what can be considered a perfectly justified topic for this post, and I know I could just pick one and research it, throw down some facts, and let it be. (Un)fortunately, I want to write about something that I can give a genuine perspective on, and talk about something that I truly contemplate rather than something I’m only thinking about because I just needed to pick something.

Light bulb.

Perhaps, the reason that this is so hard is because with my only lightly religious background when I explore, religion is not what I see. I see people and architecture. I don’t see Christians, Jew, & Muslims and Cathedrals, Synagogues, & Mosques. Is this even making sense? Let’s see.

My RoommateI’ve been surprisingly exposed to religious diversity already, and I always try to be extraordinarily open-minded. For instance, whenever I see the women around London who wear the head scarves, I never see it as much more than a personal preference, and for some even a fashion statement. Sequins? I think yes. I mean, my roommate during my freshman year in the dorms was Muslim, and she was downright adorable, and to this day is one of my really good friends. We never extensively talked about religion, but she was always heavily involved in MSA. Every now and then we discussed certain things, and whenever I had a question about it, she never acted like it was stupid, or like I was ignorant, but she understood that it all stemmed from curiosity, without any judgement. That seems to be where I stand, curiosity.

Let the analysis continue…

For instance, when we had our field trip to the synagogue, I thoroughly enjoyed it. My favorite aspect of the whole experience was the woman who was in charge of giving us the tour, because she answered the questions without making me feel like I was just silly and ignorant, and was incredibly welcoming. That’s always my biggest fear, that others will look down on me because I don’t have any extensive knowledge about their culture. It’s not because I don’t want to know, or I don’t care, or even that I’m close-minded about them. It really is that I just don’t know yet, and when people I meet are understanding of that, it makes learning about religion a lot more fun.

Semi-awkward transition, inserted here…

Yet, when we went to Paris, it wasn’t all that different to me. France, being a secular state, has made very distinct efforts to limit public displays of religion and knowing that I expected it to be like,

“Whoa, this is so much different than the religious tolerance and diversity of London…” 

But not quite. Turns out, in all likelihood (especially if I wasn’t in a Religious Studies class) I would not have even noticed. Paris, as in London, is filled with people and architecture. In retrospect, there wasn’t the displays of religion, Muslim women did not wear headscarves, Jewish men didn’t wear kippah, and such, but this wasn’t on my natural radar.

Attempt to tie in clever title…

This is where I have arrived. As long as I keep an open mind, and especially after being immersed in it as I am in London, I come to a point where it no longer phases me. (For the sake of my adventure blogs at least) Its seems that I should try to be more keen of it, but it seems so unnatural for me to go out of my way to notice religion. I’m just used to Secular Sightseeing.

People and architecture.


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