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.

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