Attend a religious service or ritual from a spiritual tradition that is significantly
different from your own personal experience of religion.In other words, if you are Catholic, find a Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, or perhaps Pentecostal Christian service. If you have no religious affiliation, choose any one you would like.
Take notes on your experience based on the criteria below and write a 3 page
reflection on the experience (12 pt. Times Roman font with 1 inch margins).
Your primary objective is to look for ways that religion is expressed and enacted
through language and symbols.
Here is a guide for your observations and writing:
• Look carefully at the setting where the ritual is taking place. Notice details.
What clues about the religion or ritual are given
by the setting (location, architecture, art,
arrangement, decoration, etc)?
• What are the key symbols and actions that are used in the service itself (including
what people do and say)?
• What is the overall “feel” of the service?
• Summarize some of the key “meanings” that you observe.
• Research and summarize the central beliefs of the religion. Where did you
see these beliefs reflected in the service you
• In what ways is the religious service linked to a particular culture? What
connections did you see between the symbols and actions used and everyday life?
• What purposes do you think the service served (affirm beliefs,
moral encouragement, build a sense of community or belonging with others, etc.).
• What aspects of the service were most unfamiliar to you? Research one of these
and describe why it is important for the religion.