Keeping the faith

التالى By Nick Mendez

منتدى الفوركس العربى Freshmen fill the hallways with glassy eyes, moving aimlessly with their voices reduced to dull murmurs. Inside the walls of this residence hall, the air is stale, the atmosphere indifferent: Not the typical setting for an inspired religious transformation. But for sophomore psychology major Tim McIvor, a Christian boarding school graduate, these mediocre surroundings set the stage for a spiritual journey that made him question the same God that guided him faithfully through adolescence.

مصدر In his cramped double in Speare Hall, after the death of a childhood friend and a split with his long-time girlfriend, he fell from grace for the first time, he said, struggling through tumultuous doubt before burrowing to the foundation of his faith to return to God.

كبار الشخصيات ثنائي مشاركة خيارات الإشارات “I get the chills coming up here again,” McIvor said as he climbed the linoleum steps to the second floor of Speare. He hadn’t set foot inside the building for nearly seven months, he said. “God is really providing for people when they go through hard times,” he said. He paused, as if the tribulations of his freshman year had come rushing back. “Times that seem impossible.”

إعادة النظر For most students, college marks the first venture away from the comforts of home. Leaving behind years of being nurtured and parented, some students are left to re-evaluate in their own terms, by their own values. Without the safety and limitations of home, even the most fundamental religious beliefs can fall to scrutiny.

موقع الكتروني The transition to university life was a test of will for McIvor, forcing a profound spiritual adjustment: The religious framework instilled in his childhood was called suddenly into question.

حساب الخيارات الثنائية أنواع Independence “We had our first Parents Weekend mass,” said Joe Donovan, chaplain at Northeastern’s Catholic Center on Saint Stephen Street. “I’m sitting here thinking, I’ve never seen these [students] before.” Donovan approached many of the students innocently, to ask why he hadn’t seen them before, he remembered. The look upon their parents’ faces was often venomous. Without realizing, he had outed the students, who hadn’t once visited the center of their own volition. Donovan had alerted their parents to the reality that religion at home doesn’t always translate successfully to religion in college.

تحقق من ذلك “When a student comes with a built-in Catholicism that’s never been tested nor deeply owned by the student, their faith gets challenged when they come on campus,” he said. “They wind up questioning the validity of what they’ve held to be important. One thing is, of course, the dependence and the regularity of the family setting. All of that is up for grabs when you come on campus. All of life and all of its parts is thrown out there on the table.”

الصفحة الرئيسية Starting to build a life away from home also pushes students to take ownership of their personal values, including faith, said Shelli Jankowski-Smith, director of Northeastern’s Spiritual Life Center. “When students come to college, it’s usually the first time [they] are trying to make their belief system their own,” she said. The department oversees communication between campus religious groups, and sponsors events, seminars and meditation sessions to help students feel the comfort of home in what might be a strikingly new environment, she said.

صفحة ويب “Coming in as a freshman, a lot of people feel for the first time this discovery that you can reinvent yourself, and spirituality can be a part of it,” she said.

تحقق هؤلاء الرجال بها Northeastern’s Hillel also strives to provide support for Jewish students. The two-story building, on St. Stephen Street, forges the feeling of home, with activity centered in the kitchen and dining areas, said Director Beth Meltzer.

انقر للحصول على مزيد من المعلومات Besides services and religious observances, the Hillel provides Jewish students a place to relax, study or enjoy meals with friends of a common faith, she said.

أفضل نظام تداول للفوركس Even with a welcoming environment at their disposal, Meltzer said she’s watched many students disconnect from their family’s beliefs after coming to college. “It’s very easy to get by without doing anything here,” she said. “All of a sudden, their family isn’t forcing them to attend services. You see a lot of people who just drop off the face of the Earth.”

اذهب هنا For other students, Meltzer said, years of attending religious activities and participating in student groups can leave students fatigued by the practice of Judaism.

“Some of them feel like they did so much in high school that they’ve burned out and want to do other things,” she said. College is an inherently exploratory exercise, both academically and personally. If students are encouraged to scrutinize everything from their study habits to works of literature, why shouldn’t this reevaluation process turn inward, said sophomore Jeremy Day, a former Northeastern student studying writing and publishing at Emerson.

“As you get older and get a higher intellectual capacity, you start to realize the purpose of religion and the detriments of it,” he said.

Though he began by asking questions, Day’s skepticism grew with time, and he eventually abandoned organized religion all together, he said.

“I sort of started from scratch when I came to college,” he said. “As a freshman, you’re coping with all these ideas of, ‘I’m on my own now, I have to be responsible for myself’ and ‘Where the hell am I going in life?'”

But Day said he still believes in God. Even as he denounces what he considers the violent missteps of many fervent religions, he said, he believes there’s something about the idea of a higher power that’s hard to shake.

“I grew up believing in God,” he said. “I grew up doing the whole church thing, and it’s been such a big part of my life for so long that it’s hard to just go cold turkey. There’s still that connection you can feel every once in a while.”

The idea of shedding one’s skin has become a clich’eacute; rite-of-passage for students transitioning to college life, but for some, there is something attractive about starting over as someone different, miles away from home.

“I’m in college now, so I don’t have to be religious,” said junior Jeena Sheppard, an environmental geology major.

Sheppard’s father and sister were both Sunday school teachers, and her family followed the Methodist philosophy. While she said they weren’t “Bible-thumping freaks or anything,” both Sheppard and her mother sang in the church choir, and her family said grace before every meal.

Despite ups and downs, Sheppard said she had an active belief in God while living at home.

“I wanted to go to church, I wanted to keep it up,” she said. “I wanted to find my own church community outside my parents because I loved my church so much.”

At school, Sheppard has adopted a more liberal lifestyle, she said, but her love for her family and their beliefs is apparent; it’s a love rooted in respect and memories, she said.

“People don’t really understand,” she said. “It’s powerful, it’s family. So I wanted to find my own new family away from home, and it’s so complicated to do that here.”

Jess Volpe, a sophomore majoring in journalism and political science, sat on the steps of Saint Cecilia Parish off Massachusetts Avenue, the church where she attended mass a couple of times when she first came to Northeastern.

Both of her parents went to Catholic school, she said, but her personal faith was based mostly on family tradition. More than a decade later, she began to question her family’s Catholicism, and after moving out on her own, discovered a different set of beliefs.

Although Volpe preferred her experience at Saint Cecilia Parish to what she felt in church back home, she started to disassociate herself from Catholicism.

“You’ll sing certain hymns, you only read from the gospels, you get a prearranged excerpt of texts, I never even saw the Bible until I was 18,” she said, describing her frustrations with Catholicism. “They let you learn what they want you to learn.”

In the last year, Volpe has started to attend a Congregational church with her boyfriend. There, she has found a way to practice that resonates with her. Reading from the Bible is more individualized, she said, and the portions are smaller and more focused.

“Reading the Bible on your own is different,” she said. “No one is telling you what you should think about it. You can have your own beliefs about the Bible and how to apply it to your life. Even some of the things that were written in the second century can resonate with you.”

Diversity Sheppard sat down at the dinner table in her apartment. She raised her hands to her lips and folded them together, just like she had done for years.

But this was different. She was in the company of near strangers, and worried how her new roommates might react. She decided to whisper grace quietly to herself.

“Jeena,” one of her roommates said. “If you’re going to pray to yourself do it out loud.”

Now, Sheppard says grace at the dinner table regularly.

When attending an urban university like Northeastern, some cultural diversity is guaranteed. And new friends, roommates and clubs mean meeting people with different views on everything from God to eating habits.

For Sheppard, this has also meant surprising people with preconceptions of her religion.

“I’m part of the pro-choice students of Northeastern, which is stapled as a non-Christian group,” Sheppard said. Many of her peers, she said, see her two associations to be mutually exclusive.

On campus, students have ample opportunity to experience first-hand complexity of the human spirit, said Jankowski-Smith.

“A university has the potential to be this perfect universe in a way,” she said. “We have people here who are from every range of spiritual and religious belief, from every background of life, from every place in the world, from every ethnic and cultural and whatever background. There’s a little of everybody here.”

Throughout his life, McIvor has heard almost exclusively about the benefits of a Christian lifestyle. Then suddenly, in the common room of his freshman residence hall, the floodgates were opened wide when he met a homosexual Muslim neighbor. Another neighbor felt torn between one parent’s Jewish heritage and the Christian upbringing of the other.

“These viewpoints made me think, well, what exactly do I believe, and is that true,” he said. “All my life, I’ve been hearing the same stuff now I’m hearing something different.”

Sin McIvor said he felt “temptation like crazy” as he watched his friends drink in excess. He wanted in on the fun and companionship. He wanted to see what the fuss was about. He thought he should go all out, so he did.

“I was just like, forget it, I’m going to get drunk because I’m having some issues with God right now,” he said. “It’s not like I’m going to betray God – it’s never like that, that’s not my intention.”

But with high school and the oversight of parents behind them and a lifetime of mortgages and car payments in the future, college can be the last opportunity for students to let go. The last bastion of excess, without judgment or repercussions. The last chance to drink excessively, to have a one night stand or say something dangerously radical, without fear of retribution.

“Me personally, I want to go back to real-life after college,” Sheppard said. “I want to get the house, the white picket fence, two dogs, I want to pop out three kids and be done. I want to go to church like a good person. But right now, does it matter? Do I have the time?”

Pain In the search for purpose and guiding principles, not every wound is self inflicted. When a person spends a lifetime crediting God for joy and accomplishment, who else can they turn to in a moment of despair?

Shortly after coming to Northeastern, a close friend of Sheppard’s committed suicide, and it seemed this time God didn’t have the answers she wanted.

“If there’s a God, that’s fucked up,” she said. “I kind of just stopped thinking that if I pray to him everything will get better. It doesn’t. Believing in this extra being to make me feel better wasn’t making me feel better. And that’s basically what it is. If someone else is controlling everything, then things are easier to take.”

While some students turn to a higher power to provide foundation, others find solace in disbelief.

“A psychic wound creates an opening, a vulnerability that can invite in destruction or rebuilding,” Jankowski-Smith said. “Most people respond to that kind of challenge by trying to rebuild and make some sense of that.”

Religion can be the key to making sense of a loss and finding peace. It provides something beyond death, a destination for the departed. It also provides a community in which to find comfort.

Last February, McIvor doubted his religion, but when, in the same week, he lost his childhood friend, Billy, and his relationship with his girlfriend ended, God remained a constant.

“Everything was going wrong,” he said. “It got me thinking about life and how it goes by so quickly. When you have these moments you wonder, what is my purpose in life? What am I here for?”

When everything else seemed to be falling apart, McIvor said a higher power provided tranquility and solace; in his sadness he found a revival of his religious credence.

Death wasn’t the catalyst for Volpe’s religious conversion. In August, her ex-boyfriend, Brandon, checked into a rehab center. His addiction to narcotics was a powerful demonstration of will for Volpe, and when Brandon experienced a resurgence of his religious beliefs, the power of faith became apparent to her.

“Reading the Bible while he was going through that made it clear to me that you need to believe in God to get through things,” she said. “It’s comforting to know that someone else is in charge of what’s going to happen.”

Brandon’s recovery brought them back together, brought Volpe to a new faith and brought God back into the picture. Now they attend a Congregationalist church together and the Bible has renewed meaning, she said.

“There’s this one passage of the Bible that I had read in May of last year, and it just made sense to me recently,” she said. “It’s in John. It’s about how you’re like a branch and Jesus is pruning you. If you stray and if you don’t go back to the right path, or what God believes is the right path, then you’ll be cast away from God. But if you make the right decisions when things are hard for you, and you still come through it as a Christian person, you’ll be rewarded.”

Purpose Meltzer had just lost her mother. She was sitting shiva – a Jewish ritual of mourning – with her family in Andover, and it was the day before finals. Forgoing their studies to travel miles from campus, a dozen students, regulars of the Northeastern Hillel, arrived at her door to offer kind words and condolences.

“It was such an incredible support,” she said. “Knowing that students really care, they have good souls. A lot of these students, they will go out of their way for each other.”

College presents an immense challenge for students of faith to reconcile perceived differences between their new lifestyle and their beliefs. For those without a religious upbringing, the loneliness and self-reliance of moving away from home often necessitates the presence of a higher power, a foundation on which to rely.

“There’s another layer to understanding,” Jankowski-Smith said. “When students are here to seek knowledge, I think those that are engaging in some sort of spiritual questioning are engaging in that search on a deeper level – another kind of knowledge that’s beyond the surface of life.

A spiritual journey, whether it ends in renewed faith or disbelief, is one of self-discovery, McIvor said.

“I’ve been through so many doubts, so many questions and here I am now, even stronger in my faith, stronger than ever,” he said. “College in general, because of how much doubt is created, so much strength can come from it.”

In a whirlpool of temptation and opportunity, everything is laid on the table to be picked over, analyzed and pieced back together.

“If you don’t get in touch with your deepest self, which is revealed to you by God, then you’re missing that,” Donovan said.

At home, religion was a product of some students’ families and environment. Something taught and passed down, spoken about at the dinner table and not in an intellectual setting. In college, for some students, God becomes a subject to question, an ideology to explore, rather than a forgone conclusion.

“Some people believe in Allah, some people believe in something else, but in the reality of it, it’s a solid base of morals that if you teach your kids or follow by yourself they’re worthy, righteous even,” Sheppard said. “Regardless of whether it’s true of not

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