Magazine, website & books written by teens since 1989

What to Believe?

Custom User Avatar
More by this author
A lot of the time, learning is inadvertent. We go about our day, taking in words and sounds and from that we absorb information. At school, I listen to lectures, do practice problems, and go over vocabulary. Although at the time it sometimes doesn’t seem like I am taking in information, when I have to use these tools later on, I know that the knowledge I need is there. When you know you learn something, there is often a realization or an “ah-ha” moment; something hits you and you just know it is going to change the way you live your life. This happened to me during my freshman year in my World Civilization class.

As an introduction to our study of world religions, each student was assigned a partner, given a questionnaire, and told to interview each other on what they believe in. The questionnaire included queries such as “What religion, if any, do you practice? What religion do your parents practice? Do you believe in a higher power? What do you believe happens after you die?” When my partner asked me about my parents and my religion, I quickly responded that we are both Jewish. When I asked my partner the same question, he said that his parents were Catholic, but he didn’t follow any religion. Upon further discussion with the whole class, I found that other students also practiced religions that differed from those of their parents. A friend of mine said that her parents were Christian, but she chose to be Buddhist. Another student said that his parents were Atheists, but he chose to follow Christianity.

These statements floored me. At that moment I knew that I had stumbled upon a piece of information that I had never even thought about. Before this class, I knew that my parents were Jewish, so I too was Jewish. I went to Hebrew school, I had a Bat Mitzvah, and I went to temple on Jewish holidays. I never questioned my religion. I didn’t know I had a choice in the matter. I had been living my life thinking that my religion was something that I was born with, not something that described my beliefs.

In that moment in my World Civilization class, my views on religion drastically changed. I learned that religion isn’t supposed to be something you do because you have to, it is something you practice because you believe in it. I had never really considered the practices and values of Judaism, but now I can have the chance to see if they correspond with my own beliefs. I also learned that I have a choice in the religion that I follow. I can be Jewish, or Christian, or Buddhist, or Atheist, or nothing at all. I don’t know whether I will stick with Judaism or if I will pick a different religion. But from that class, I learned that I had that choice; the choice to decide on my religion based on my own beliefs.



Join the Discussion

This article has 1 comment. Post your own now!

andromeda13 said...
Aug. 31, 2011 at 7:18 am
i am a Wiccan, most of my family are Athiests or Christian, i know how you feel, when i was little i always assumed the Christian God was real, because most of my family was Christian it was a while before i realized i had a chioce.
 
Site Feedback