Religion and sandwiches

Brittany Hill


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No pickles, add cheese and remove the sesame seeds from the bun. Hold the Hail Marys, add premarital sex and substitute evolution for the Garden of Eden.

In an age of customization, where everything from footwear to sandwiches can be custom made, are religious affiliation and beliefs thrown onto the pile of things you can have your way? Kent State students and religious personnel from establishments on and around campus talk about what religion means today and whether it can be ordered with or without pickles.

Some students say they still associate themselves with a religion that they were raised in, although they don’t practice the rituals or traditions of the religion anymore.

Rachel Brown, senior visual journalism major, said she considers herself Catholic because she was baptized and confirmed as a kid.

“I don’t go to church, but I can still believe what I want to believe,” said Brown. “I don’t think that matters.”

Mary Lynn Delfino, pastoral associate for Campus Catholic Ministry at the Newman Center, said there is some leeway in Catholicism.

“I think in the Catholic tradition we certainly have those rules, or things we’re supposed to be doing,” she said, “and there’s a wide variety of interpretation. I think in part because God has given us free will … ”

Some students no longer associate themselves with the religion they’ve grown distant from but still maintain a personal relationship with God.

Senior aeronautics major Brian Filous said he was baptized Catholic but never really attended church and no longer associates himself with Catholicism.

“I just treat people right,” said Filous. “I don’t hide behind religion. I don’t live in fear. I believe there is a God, and if I end up in hell, there will be a lot of decent people there.”

Delfino said she does see the need to have a personal relationship with God, but in her opinion, it can’t be the only religious practice.

“I think our society has become a lot more individualistic dating back to the times of the Enlightenment and going against the institution,” said Delfino. “I think those are kind of the messages we hear in our culture … there is this focus on the individual. That is what could potentially make being part of an organized religion so difficult for people. There’s a give and take. You can’t just do what you want or believe what you want because it’s what you want. There’s a framework in which we are … called to be in. Of course we’re called to stretch beyond those, but we all have to be moving there together.”

Freshman broadcast news major Ryan Briggs is homosexual and says he’s grown up Catholic and still would consider himself 100 percent Catholic. Briggs said the only principles of the Catholic religion he really disagrees with is its stance on homosexuality.

“I always felt like God made me this way,” Briggs said.

Delfino said she feels there are certain things in the Catholic tradition that are not necessarily essential to being a “good Catholic,” but there are things Catholics should believe to be dogmatic.

“The church is teaching that homosexuality is often misunderstood,” said Delfino. “To be homosexual, the orientation itself, is not a sinful thing, but to engage in sexual activity outside of marriage is sinful, and the church does not recognize gay marriage, as some of our civil laws do, so that part is sinful, or what we believe to be sinful.”

Delfino said she thinks the right term for a Catholic who knowingly disagrees with or chooses not to live their life by Catholic principles could be “Inactive Catholics”.

“That might be a term to use,” said Delfino. “But I can’t be the judge of that. I think a person needs to look at their own heart and their own conscience. They know what is expected of them. They know what our faith requires of them.”

Freshman exploratory major Maria Mulgrew says she she just believes in the more general teachings of Christianity.

“Saying a man and a man should not be together, that’s really pinpointed,” said Mulgrew. “But the general view is (God) will accept you as who you are, and he’ll love you no matter what. I’d say it’s human nature to be open to different things.”

Doug Fidler, pastor at Trinity Lutheran Church on S. Water Street said, “Lutheranism tries to say here’s what it is. Here’s how we try to live our lives, and we’ll have some differences on how that carries out, but at least within Lutheranism we say, ‘Let’s keep talking and not push ourselves away from the table.’”

Tiffany Rinda, junior integrated health studies major, said she was raised Lutheran and likes the fact that it’s less strict than other religions like Catholicism, but hasn’t been to church in a long time. Rinda said she “isn’t a big practicer” but still associates herself with the Lutheran religion.

“There are a lot of people in their 20s and 30s … that are feeling a sense of alienation from church,” Fidler said. “When I was growing up in the ‘50s and ‘60s, everyone went to church. There was no option. That was the way it was.”

Fidler said he feels that, over the years, the church became lazy and developed the thought process.

“We expect people to come, and if they don’t, then there’s something wrong with them,” Fidler said. “I think now the church is beginning to say, ‘Why have we pushed people away?’”

Lee Moore, who works with Jewish students at Hillel at Kent State, said that Judaism is very different from typical Christianity because, not only is Judaism a religion, but it’s also a people.

“There are actually lots and lots and lots of Jews who are very strongly identified as being Jewish,” Moore said, “but are not religious Jews, and there is actually nothing wrong with that.”

Moore said Judaism can be considered a cultural identity or an ethnicity. Moore said people are not instantly Jewish because they say they believe in a particular thing. Judaism is something you’re born into or you choose to go through the process of converting into.

Moore said that one thing that is often talked about at Hillel is that each person is on a journey.

“All throughout our lives we might try different things on and find truth in different ways and that might change over time,” Moore said.

Moore said the term “Hebrew” actually means “the person who crossed over.”

“A lot of people these days are seeking different forms of spiritual practice, like for example, meditation,” Moore said. “I totally support that. I think that if that is something that can help someone stay focused and be a better person, then that’s a good thing to do.”

Moore said one of the other aspects of Judaism is that everyone is entitled to his or her opinion.

“There’s this saying that if you have two Jews, you have three opinions,” Moore said.

Ryan Thomas, junior aeronautics major, said he would refer to himself as agnostic.

“I find religion to be a beautiful thing. People find comfort, moral value, different things, especially when they’re facing tough times,” Thomas said, “(but) because I don’t know what to believe, I choose not to associate with a specific religion.”

Shannon Kazdin, junior communication studies major, said he doesn’t know either.

“I don’t know if there really is an afterlife,” Kazdin said. “Maybe reincarnation is something, maybe. I don’t know … but that’d be pretty good depending what you come back as.”

So can a BLT still be a BLT if it has bacon, spinach and avocado? Can a Catholic still support gay marriage? Do you have to go to church? If it tastes like a BLT to you, it’s a BLT, and if you don’t know, order pizza.

Contact Brittany Hill at [email protected].