I have interviewed Pastor Kim from the Korean Church of True Light here in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. For my research paper I am gathering the history and general information about this church.
Three years ago a few members of a local protestant church split to form the Korean Church of True Light. While searching for a building to call their own, they held service in a local park. Soon after their split they formed a partnership with Calvary Baptist Church of Tuscaloosa.
They currently use the old chapel adjacent to the main building of Calvary Baptist. Pastor Kim has been the senior pastor here for one year. He says, “God knows my heart. He put me in a place I love and can do God’s work”.
While I was searching what to write about this week I came across this site. The creators define Hindupedia as “the Hindu Encyclopedia”. This site is meant to educate the public about all aspects of Hinduism. The main page notes that this site is the only online Hindu encyclopedia that provides the public with a traditional perspective on the Hindu way of life. There are 14 categories ranging from General information to Philosophy and art. Personally, I enjoyed reading about the preparation and celebration of Hindu Festivals. There are many different kinds of festivals. During one festival colored water or powder is thrown on people. This is the festival of colors, Holi. This festival reflects the changing color of nature.
In a world where religious hatred and persecution is wide spread, Gadadhara Pandit Dasa is trying to bridge the gap between Hinduism and Christianity. He writes about his experience growing up in LA and attending a Christian high school. Years after graduating he decided to become a Hindu monk and focus on bridging the gap between the two religions. A fellow Hindu monk suggested that he read the Gospels to become more familiar with the Christian faith. He noticed some surprising similarities. He compares Matthew 18:21-35 and Matthew 23:12 with an excerpt from the Siksastakam. Both suggest that an individual learn should learn to become humble. In his final statement he urges his readers to love our neighbors as ourselves and to make an attempt to cross the bridges that divide us. This is a refreshing article about religious tolerance and humility.
This is a hotly debated topic recently, and Zach Price has already covered it some here, but I stumbled upon an article on the Huffington Post that was just so interesting I felt I had to write about it. This article written by Mark Morford is pro-Yoga and very anti-Christianity. He argues that Yoga is not a violation of church and state while also claiming that it is religious. Now this may seem problematic, but he claims that Yoga practitioners connect with their inner divinity, not an external entity. I believe that he was trying to interpret the idea of separation of church and state as applying it only to organized religion. If you look at it from his perspective, then you realize that if he concedes that Yoga is religious then this is a problem for Yoga practitioners because they will be banned from schools and other government owned places, but if he doesn’t attribute some religiousness to it then Yoga is just another exercise, which is not what he wants either.
I think that an interesting topic to research is who identifies whom as a Hindu and for what reasons. I know that there has been some pressure in India to consider Sikhs and other religions as Hindu, and that there is some resistance to considering converts to Hinduism as being Hindu. I am not that interested in the actual criteria as to what makes a Hindu. I have nowhere near the knowledge required to catalog a list of criteria, and I think that it would ultimately be useless anyways. Rather, I am interested in why there is exclusion and inclusion for different groups. I am reasonably sure that I will find various political reasons for considering a Sikh or a Jain as Hindu, as I believe that there are some benefits to being considered the majority religion in an area. I am not entirely sure why some Hindus are resistant to the idea of converts to Hinduism being true Hindus, especially in countries outside of India. It could just be the anti-conversion attitude applied outside of India, but I really do not know for certain.
I do know that the rising Christian and Muslim populations in India is considered problematic by some members of the Hindu majority, as some of their numbers (particularly Christian) are converts from Hinduism. Perhaps some Hindus do not want conversions to Hinduism to count in the same way that they do not want conversions to Christianity or Islam to count. I would not be surprised to find that there are more converts to Christianity and Islam than there are to Hinduism in India, and this could be why there is an anti-conversion attitude present. It benefits Hindus more to be anti-conversion than pro-conversion because they simply have less converts. My research would largely feature India, but I would also like to research “Western” countries as well.