• Eleven faiths in eleven months… I might need divine intervention

    I have a terrible habit of starting things and never finishing them.

    In my life time I have taken dance, gymnastics, piano, horseback riding, softball and cheerleading. Of those six hobbies, the one I stuck with longest was gymnastics — a record-breaking three years. And not even consecutively, I might add.

    On the top shelf of our living room closet, there’s a box that holds a quilt. And not just any quilt mind you, but a quilt that was handcrafted by yours truly. However, this “quilt” has no backing, or batting, or anything that would qualify for the title of “quilt.” It’s just some scraps of fabric I sewed together and then bring out on a rainy day every year or so. I’ve been working on this quilt since I was in the 9th grade. It was supposed to be for my future husband (and I’ve been married for four years).

    Yes, completing projects has never been my strong suit. Like Julie from Julie and Julia — I need deadlines… desperately.

    It’s no secret that I frequently write about my experiences in and perspectives of the church. But it dawned on me: My perspectives are so very limited. All I know is Christianity.

    Cue cartoon-ish light bulb hovering above my head!

    I, Theresa Reichman, have an idea. A project. Yep. I said it out loud (which is sort of my point). I’m outing myself, because quite frankly that’s the only way that this is going down.

    You see, all of my extracurricular activities were not forced upon me. I had doting parents who liked to spoil their daughter and allow her to explore an array of interests. And making a quilt for your future husband — when he’s not even in your life yet — is hardly motivational. He wasn’t waiting for it. He didn’t even know about it!

    So I’m letting you know, dear readers. You be waiting for it. Eleven religions in 11 months. Each month will have its own religion that I will study actively. I will go to as many religious services as I am able, and will try to observe their custom and rituals to the best of my ability. In the process, I will be keeping a journal of my experiences and perspectives.

    It’s important to note that I want to go into this with a completely unbiased, open mind and just relish the excitement of a new experience. After all, new experiences are hard to come by. My goal is to broaden my world view and give way to understanding.

    Initially I had 12 religions on my list, but one of them — very inconveniently — didn’t have a place of worship near enough to my home. But hey, even God had a day of rest. So it looks like I will be having a month off this year.

    I also will be calling churches ahead of time to make sure I adhere to proper etiquette while visiting, and to be sure that my presence won’t feel intrusive or offensive. Assuming that I’m welcomed each place, by this time next year I will have studied Buddhism, Hinduism, Interfaith, Islam, Jainism, Judaism, Mormonism, Paganism, Scientology, Taoism and Zoroastrianism. In July, I will commence my expedition.

    But it’s bigger than simply self-enlightenment. Like baptism in the Christian faith that proclaims to the world “I believe!” my jaunt in the religions of the world is proclaiming, “I coexist!” Because I do. Because we all do. We just haven’t all embraced it yet. Like my quilt that isn’t a quilt, religion isn’t really religion. Religion is simply the thread that weaves us all together and reminds us that despite different doctrines, when you step back, we are all one.

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