Today I finished reading The Alchemist, a story about a boy who is on a quest to fulfilling what the book calls his “Personal Legend.” I found it to be a very timely read as I am preparing for my first day of my summer internship (which starts tomorrow). If you’ve been following along with my posts, you’ll know that I’ve been doing a lot of self-questioning lately and I blame a lot of this questioning due to some recent changes I’ve made in my life— moving from New York to Los Angeles, practicing mindfulness, and actively trying to make productive/positive changes to what I can in my life.
Back to the subject; I’ve never been extremely religious but I’ve found myself to admire those who are. In The Alchemist, the author draws on religious themes, not to promote a specific religion, but rather to point out the peculiar ways in which our universe often guides us to our goals. The author guides the character by creating fictional scenarios where The Boy, the main character, can confront the challenges he is facing by interacting with people and objects that symbolize “omens” in his life journey. Just as those who are religious seek out God or Jesus to help guide them to a correct path, the character too seeks out different resources to help him understand his choices and their consequences. I thoroughly enjoyed this reading specifically because of the ways it presents important life lessons without the overbearing, unrelatable, didactic tone that I feel religious texts sometimes take on. When studying religion, at least in my experience, teachers often fail to unbiasedly teach the universality in thinking about concepts such as ‘God,’ to those who have never found religion to be relatable. Many themes presented in The Alchemist provide this tangibility for readers who are not religious or spiritual.
I’m curious to know how religion has affected the lives of people, and not just in general, but in very specific times of everyday life and people’s thinking.
I’ve recently been practicing mindfulness which has allowed me to have a stronger appreciation for what the present moment can offer me and how I’m controlling the time and space around me. In what ways does your religion affect the way you perceive this relationship of time and space in addition to the way you perceive others? How does this manifest into your political views, your life views, your job/school decisions? If you’re not religious, what are the other forms of value that you identify with?
I think religion is an especially important topic to talk about as our world is clearly experiencing the effects of globalization, especially via mass media. At a time where we have the power to cull together all the different types of thinking and conversations about these topics, why do we lack the courage to speak openly about them? How can we define religion at this point in time when people believe not just in a divine being but in the power of technology, an idea, in music, in sports, etc etc.