Thursday, August 16

Culture Shock: Religion

When I first moved to Utah, I have to say it wasn't the best experience. For one, I was moving away from everyone in my family. For two, I was moving into a state where I would be in the religious minority. Before I write another word, I want to say that I love religion. I find it facinating. I studied it in college and am always up for chatting about it with whomever is willing, learning more every day about the many different and intriguing religions of the world. I consider myself very open minded and nonjudgmental.

As many of you know, roughly 50% of Utahns are Mormon (LDS). I am very happy and secure in my religion, which isn't Mormonism. But many of the core beliefs are similar (as I've found is true with most religions) and my family hasn't been shunned or made to feel uncomfortable. Sure, there have been some rough patches and some times when I've needed someone to define a word or phrase so I can follow what they're trying to say, but I think it's going well so far. I really believe I can live here, being in the religious minority, and still be respected. Sure, it's been a huge culture shock, and after living here for 12 years, there are still times I'm shocked. I want to thank Utah for being open minded and for welcoming people of other religous cultures into its beautiful land. And for those of you who are in the religious minority wherever you live, keep your beliefs close to your heart and enjoy the diversity around you.

6 comments:

Jessica Burkhart said...

Nice post, Wendy! :) I wish more people would realize that it's nice to mingle with people of all religions and to be open-minded enough to listen to what the other person has to say.

Gerb said...

That's an important message, Wendy. And you're right - many of the core values are the same regardless of the religion... love, respect, tolerance, integrity, purity, etc. When I lived in Japan, I loved seeing the way many Japanese approached religion. They may have a Shinto wedding, a Buddhist funeral, a Christian Christmas and live by a somewhat Confucian ethic - whatever suited the occasion. And while I adhere to one religion myself, I appreciated the example of accepting the good in all religions. Less culture shock to be had if we all look for the similarities instead of the differences...

Wendy Toliver said...

Thanks, Jessica! Me too. So many people take everything (espeically their religions) so personally and find it impossible to see something thru someone else's eyes. I'm not saying it's easy, but I do believe that with practice and a well meaning heart, we can start to understand the world around us.

Gerb, I just love how some people embrace a variety of religious traditions, especially between Eastern and Western. Very cool.

Lisa Asanuma said...

I'm LDS myself, and can hardly imagine living in Utah, because I'm so used to being a tiny religious minority in California. Haha. I've been very lucky with friends who totally respect my beliefs, though, even though almost none of them share them, which I'm always grateful for.

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