Skye Lynch

I have always been someone who is simultaneously fascinated by, and distant from, the concept of religion. I have never really had a spiritual identification and was mostly a person of the agnostic variety. That wasn’t really getting me anywhere. I found that I kept making the same mistakes in my life over and over again and I didn’t understand why. I had allowed substances to be the answer to my problems. Finally, about two years ago now, I found a program of recovery. A simple, spiritual, nonreligious solution which could help me lead a more normal life.

After moving to Beijing earlier this year I found myself in the middle of a relapse of my addictions and had to rediscover the rooms in a foreign country. Working the steps of a program again has been an extremely humbling and wonderful process. In starting my Step Two I am brought back to my own agnostic tendencies. Step Two states that, “We came to believe that a Power Greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.”

Across the world there are swathes of people who believe in numerous varieties of religions. I have great admiration for those who can believe in something with such unwavering positivity.

In my recent travels through parts of Asia I have become much more aware of the religions so the world. I have witnessed those around me practicing in daily spiritual routines. I have seen the acceptance that they have in their lives, and therefore the serenity that they experience.

I know that a solution does not come in silence. A solution comes from hard work and thoughtful searching. I am on a path which requires me to believe in a Higher Power lest I face darker times and harder bottoms. So, when my roommate approached me with this plan to broaden our horizons through the religions of the world, I could hardly contain my amazement at the prospect.

On this journey I hope to not only discover the beliefs of others, but to answer my own questions in faith. What is my Higher Power?

And so, the fearless searching must begin.

Christina Zastrow

I wrote my bucket list for an assignment in community college, Intro to Group Processes actually. “What,” our teacher asked, “do you want to do with your life? Not ‘what’s on your bucket list’ but what do you want to do?” The assignment must have been for fifty things, because the list I stumbled across a few months ago as I was cleaning out my life to move from Chicago to Beijing, was fifty three items long.

Write a novel. Done. Actually, I’ve written about 1.5/3 of a series.

Make a difference. There was a note scrawled next to it, in almost indecipherable college professor handwriting “not specific”. Ah. So, what do I want to do? How will I make a difference? What difference do I want to make?

Be able to discuss the five major world religions intelligently and with an understanding of what and why they believe what they believe. Well…I was a missionary. I assume my motivations when I wrote it were to understand so that I could convert souls more effectively.

That’s not my goal anymore. Now…I seek. I don’t know that any one religion is right, but somewhere at the cores, perhaps there is some consistent truth that I can find.

My path is no longer focused on converting people to my truth because I no longer know what my truth is. My path now is to search for my own way. And for that, the ability to understand world religions is a great way to look for a greater truth, something bigger than myself.

So…that move I mentioned.

I lived in the Chicago suburbs for most of my life. As in…until about four months ago when I found my life in shambles and I decided to take a leap forward and move. To China. I’m in Beijing for the next year exploring the culture and learning enough to write a book set in this country that has so quickly grabbed my attention. In order to understand this country and the flow of its history, I want to understand the religions that have grown here. I want to walk through the temples, not because they are major tourist attractions, but because I understand the cultural, historical, and religious significance of them. I want to hear the ancient chants in my mind as the smell of incense wafts through the air.

So I sat down with my Beijing roommate, a woman I met here in China just four months ago, and we decided to read through the sacred texts of the major religions of the world. I sat down to make a reading plan and realized that there’s nothing out there that covers reading the sacred words of multiple religions and thus this blog was born for me.