Sunday, February 11, 2007

Week Seven: Your Religious Life

Were you raised in a household where religion/faith was a major part of every day living? Was your family only nominally religious, or somewhere in between? These questions are the basis for our weekly prompt, Your Religious Life.

*What religion/faith/denomination/sect were you raised in, if any?

*What do you know about the history of your faith or particular religious organization?

*For how many generations was your family involved in this particular faith or denomination?

*Who would you characterize as the religious leader in your childhood household or extended family? How involved with your local house of worship were the adults in your household?

*How often did you attend your house of worship? Was your attendance on major religious days only, several times a year, once a month, once a week, or every time the doors were open?

*What religious leaders were important to you, and how did they make a difference in your life?

*As an infant, were you baptized, dedicated, christened or accepted into your faith in a ceremonial way? Tell about this event.

*As a child, did you participate in Sunday School, Children's Church, Vacation Bible School, Hebrew School, or any other faith-based children's program on a regular basis?

*Were you involved in any club-like group as a child that was organized through your house of worship (Awanas, Boy or Girl Scouts, Royal Rangers, Missionettes, etc.)? Tell about any awards or badges you received.

*Did you ever attend retreats or camps for children or youth, sponsored by your religious organization?

*As a youth, were you involved in a youth group? Tell about some of the activities you participated in, whether service-oriented or just for fun.

*Did you participate in any ceremonies in your childhood or youth that demonstrated your commitment to your faith (first communion or confirmation, becoming a Bar or Bat Mitzvah, etc.)? Tell about that event: what was the ceremony like, who attended, what gifts did you receive?

*As a youth or adult, did you become an official member of your particular faith? Did you make a public commitment or profession of faith (baptism, etc.) or participate in a ritual or ceremony to celebrate it?

*As an adult, do you still remain involved in the faith of your youth? Have you changed denominations or even religions? Are you no longer involved in faith-based organizations? What has caused you to remain with or change from the faith of your youth? If you were not involved with a faith as a child, but now are as an adult, how did that change occur, and why?

*Are you currently involved in any service to or activities within your house of worship, and if so, in what capacities?

*If you are married, did you marry someone within your faith, and was the ceremony conducted by a religious leader of your faith?

*If you have children, did you raise--or are you raising--your children in the same faith? Why or why not?

*Have you had what some call a religious experience or life-changing moment?

*If you could write a statement of your personal faith, what would it be? Include your own personal philosophies and beliefs, whether or not they are generally accepted by your official faith. Things to consider can include the meaning of life and suffering, your beliefs about God and holy leaders, and your beliefs about the after-life.

*Do you have a special scripture from your holy book that has particular meaning for you, or that you use for a personal statement of your faith?

*Do you have any favorite hymns, songs, and/or prayers? Why are they significant to you?

Photos from major religious events in your life, of the house(s) of worship you attended, of religious leaders, and of religious activities in which you participated would be great illustrations for this topic. You could also add ephemera (certificates, awards, church newsletters, Sunday bulletins, etc.) to your journal.

Next week, we will change our focus from our own lives to the life of the oldest ancestor that was alive at the time of your birth. Start thinking now about what you know about this person. We will return to more prompts about our own lives at a later date. Mixing it up a bit will help us be more creative in our thinking, and thus our writing!

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