Maintaining an accepting environment

As a non-Lutheran transfer student to California Lutheran University, I was a bit skeptical regarding the Lutheran affiliation that influences this institution and the direct effect the religion would have on me.

Even though Cal Lutheran identifies itself with the Lutheran religion I have not felt any pressure to conform. California Lutheran University promotes many outlets for those of all faiths to practice their religion, while also remaining fully open-minded.

Although I was raised Catholic- Christian, I personally now identify myself with the religious form of Spiritualism. My definition of Spiritualism and what I practice comes down to the simplest term of acceptance. Spiritualism is a religion that does not assign oneself with a particular savior but rather embraces all saviors of all religions without placing one superior to another.

“A spiritualist’s philosophy is to live with the belief that all religions produce enlightenment, and that our purpose on Earth is to evolve spiritually, while always serving others,” said Spiritualism enthusiast and inspirational speaker from Calabasas, Lauren Griffen.

Being a Spiritualist, I was concerned when I found out taking a year of a religion based course was required. However after completing my first semester of Introduction to Christianity I left the class not feeling pressured to conform my beliefs to Christianity but rather enlightened about the religion in the most general of sense.

It is also comforting to know that Cal Lutheran does not discriminate against their teaching staff, even in the religious department. One does not have to be Lutheran, Catholic or Christian to teach in religious studies.

Upon ending my first course in the religion section, I was thrilled to find out that a Buddhist taught my entire semester of Christian Studies, further confirming the unbiased and open-minded precept Cal Lutheran has installed.

Cal Lutheran is home to the Wennes Interfaith Meditation Chapel which is a place for those of all faiths, Spiritualists’ included, to pray, meditate, contemplate and reflect. Inside the Interfaith Chapel, the school provides resources from multiple world religions for students to use and practice with. Along with providing this facility, Cal Lutheran also has a group called Interfaith Allies.

Pastor Melissa Maxwell-Doherty describes Interfaith Allies as a clan of students, and some faculty, who come from a variety of Christian, world and spiritual backgrounds and traditions, that appreciate the similarities and differences of each religion, and work together for the common good of everybody.

I just recently discovered the existence of the Wennes Chapel, and when I walked in, I instantly felt positive energy and that this would be a place where I will be able to center my thoughts and emotions. There is incense, prayer rugs, and scriptures that I will be able to use in my practice of Spiritualism which I greatly appreciate while attending a Lutheran-based institution.

“When researching private, religious institutions, I really liked the fact that Cal Lu provides the non-Lutheran students with their own chapel. I also plan on using the Buddhist Wisdom and Scriptures in the Interfaith Chapel,” said Justin Meiners, incoming Buddhist transfer student.

California Lutheran University is indeed a religiously affiliated institution that upholds the Lutheran faith, ideals and morals. However, the university has a diverse student and staff population that are able to feel at home due to the many outlets the school provides to accommodate each student and/ or staff member. I am among such students that do not practice the Lutheran religion but I can positively say that I do feel comfortable embracing my spirituality on campus.

 

Jessy Corsello

Published October 22, 2014