Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Give me that old time religion

Due to the fact that Evanston is a “college town” (Northwestern University is just up the street from where I work) a lot of the residents of the town would be considered to be fairly open minded about a lot of topics, particularly when it comes to politics and religion.

Last fall, I saw a LOT more Obama/Biden signs in town than McCain/Palin signs, but I’ve also seen a fair number of “COEXIST” bumper stickers (as well as one that says “Who Would Jesus Bomb?”)

What I like about this bumper sticker (see below) is the respect that it shows for people of a wide variety of religious backgrounds, which is also true of the Baha’i temple just up the road in Wilmette, which displays the symbols of NINE different religions on the outside surface.

Through the help of Google, I also found ANOTHER website that offers some very intriguing designs. By favorite, by far, is the one attached below:

To fully appreciate this design, I’d recommend listening to the rendition of “Old Time Religion” by a group called SAVAE (the acronym is short for the San Antonio Vocal Arts Ensemble):


This group is incredibly talented, and they have also recorded songs in languages other than English.

Yo habla un poquito Espanol, but you don’t need to speak Spanish to appreciate the song shown below:

What’s REALLY intriguing is a song titled “Yeshua Preview" which employs the languages of Aramaic (the language of Jesus Christ), Hebrew, and Greek:

Although the earliest form of “organized religion” dates back to the origin of Hinduism in about 4000 B.C., religion (in one form or another) has existed much longer than that, according to Karen Armstrong, author of A History of God, which I read in the spring of 2008.

Before the “Abrahamic” religions of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, most cultures were polytheistic.

When Stonehenge was being built (starting in about 3100 B.C.), the ancient Druids who inhabited the immediate area worshiped the sun god and the moon good, as well as a variety of other deities. (If you’d like to learn more about them, I’d recommend reading Stonehenge, a novel by Bernard Cornwell.)

Incidentally, if you use Google Maps, you can enjoy both aerial and ground level shots of the old monument simply by typing Stonehenge in the address box on the top of the page.

Technically speaking, the Druids would be considered to be pagans, a term that is often misunderstood.

The Wikipedia definition below provides a brief description:

earth spiritualist

When I was on my mission to visit all of the churches in Evanston, I also attended several meetings of the local pagan group, which met (ironically enough) at DePaul University in downtown Chicago.

DePaul, by the way, is the largest Catholic University in the county.

What struck me about the pagans that I met with was that they were, um, normal people who drew their spirituality from nature rather than from established religions. I still get email invitations from various pagan groups from time to time, and most of them call themselves “earth spiritualists”.

After a meeting or two, I picked up the book shown below in order to learn more about “paganism”:

The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Paganism
, by Carl McColman

Although I won’t elaborate on its contents at this point, suffice to say that the pagans aren’t as scary as you might imagine. There are also a fair number of them serving our country in the various branches of our military.

Apart from Stonehenge, rocks and religion have been connected for a long, long time.

In Matthew 16:18, Jesus said “..you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church…”

About 1000 years before Stonehenge was started, the ancient Druids built a burial ground in Northern Ireland that is known today as Newgrange. A video of the structure (which includes the song of the same title by “Celtic Women”) can be viewed below:


Rocks have also played a big role in areas as diverse as Cambodia, which houses Anghor Wat, and Mexico, which is the home of Chichen Itza

The Kaba, a small stone building in Mecca, is the holiest of all holy places for the 1.2 Billion Muslims that live in the world.

The granddaddy of all religious sites, though, is the Dome of the Rock, which has been considered to be religiously significant for Muslims, Christians and Jews at various points of its history.

Although the term “old time religion” evokes memories of Sunday morning Gospel hour in the “Bible belt”, the truth is that old time religion is a lot older than the that, and it has a strong connection to rocks.

The next time you hear “old time religion”, think about the song shown below, which REALLY provides a better description of what “old time religion” is all about, especially if you listen to it on a rainy day:

rainy day woman

1 comment:

  1. New Grange is a pleasant drive north from Dublin along the coast. Get on a shuttle bus at New Grange and go to Knowth (pronounced now_th) and see one of the oldest Celtic burial mounds, which was still in use by Christians 1000 years ago. In the distance you see Tara.