Seminary Program

This is where we post the essays from many of our Universal Life Church Seminary students. When students finish a ULC course, they write a comprehensive essay about their experiences with the course, what they learned, didn't learn, were inspired by, etc. Here are their essays.

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Friday, May 04, 2012

Master of Religious Philosophy Program

Essay on the Masters of Religious Philosophy program
Q. An essay that is a minimum of 400 words about what I learned, what I liked, didn't like, would've liked to have learned more about.
What I learned through the Masters of Religious Philosophy program is that Religious Philosophy is an "inquiry into the nature of man's belief in and reverence for a superhuman power." I have therefore gained some knowledge of humanity's beliefs and reverence — thereby gaining some insight into the causes and nature of these beliefs. I am now better equipped to go out and face the world with the realization that the human quest for spiritual, ultimate meaning in the universe is an extremely complex quest; but, that it has the universally common thread of being our pursuit of Truth, and is thus something to be respected and admired regardless of the cultural or regional form it may take.

I also learned that man behaves hopeless and helpless without religion; to the extent that when attempt was made politically to wipe out religion the efforts was fruitless (because of the extent that human has embraced religion). Good examples are that of:
  • Cuba The communist government of Fidel Castro seized power in Cuba in 1959 and officially declared the country atheist. By 1962, although churches were technically allowed to continue operating, he had closed all 400 Roman Catholic schools (he believed that they were spreading "dangerous beliefs"). It was thirty years (1992) before the constitution was amended to declare Cuba a secular state (rather than an atheist one) with somewhat limited freedom of religion.
At the time of the communist revolution, there were over 700 priests in Cuba; and, in 1961, the government confiscated all church held assets without compensation. During those 2 years (1959 – 1961), fully 80% of all Christian clergy had fled the island — reducing the number of Catholic priests to just 160.

When the constitution was amended in 1992, there was a huge flurry of religious activity that resulted in the formation of roughly 15,000 Protestant "house churches" (they're still not allowed to build new buildings for churches), serving as satellite congregations for the roughly 80 established Protestant churches; and, the Roman Catholic and Santerian congregations returned to pre-revolutionary levels nearly instantly.
  • Afghanistan The modern country of Afghanistan was formed in 1747 under the leadership of Ahmad Shah Abdali, who expanded the country to a size much larger than it is today (at one point stretching all the way from Central Asia to Delhi, and from Kashmir to the Arabian Sea). Although going through numerous shifts and changes, it stayed fairly stable until a bloody communist coup in 1978 that brought Babrak Karmal to power as the Prime Minister (later, President).
The Soviet Union arrived in force the following year, and the communist hold was solidified, with Afghanistan officially becoming atheist. This lasted until 1992, when the Mujahideen (a militant Islamic guerilla force) ousted the Soviets, liberated the nation from Communism, and established a new government. Despite the official atheist status it held for 14 years (1978–1992), the nation quickly returned to its former status once the Mujahideen replaced the atheist communist government — with 99% of the population (thirty million) again openly practicing Islam.
  • Russia In 1914, three years prior to the Communist revolution in Russia that ousted the new Kerenski government (the democratic government that had overthrown the Czar), there were a little more than 55,000 Russian Orthodox churches in the country — supported by more than a thousand monasteries and convents. After Lenin took control, the country officially became atheist, and religion was limited as much as Lenin was able without bringing about a counter-revolution. This policy of religious repression was continued by all of the leaders to follow; and, in 1988, three years prior to the fall of the Soviet Union, those numbers had dropped to 6,900 churches and just 18 monasteries and convents.
Ironically, the fall of the atheist Soviet government formally occurred in 1991 on Christmas Day! In just fourteen post-Communist years (i.e. by 2005), the number of churches had grown back to nearly 27,000, and the monastery–convent total had reached nearly 700.
It appears that, whenever and wherever religion was "outlawed" (i.e. eliminated as an act of political force), it simply "went underground." And, once the legal restrictions and repression ended, it seemed to quickly reappear — regardless of whether the duration of the repression was short (e.g. 14 years in Afghanistan), moderate (e.g. 33 years in Cuba), or long (e.g. 74 years in Russia).
I also learnt that Biblical interpretation of the original Greek and Hebrew words may mean more than two different things to different people and localities and that some localities may not have some words for some Greek or Hebrew terms; therefore such words may not have meaning to those people.

I also learned that some local places considered to be places of power one may feel awe psychologically, however, there is nothing different than any other place else except the arrangement and positioning of things.

I also learned According to the work of Graham Hancock, if I draw a great circle (a straight line around the center of the world — as in the photo) that it would intersect with all the enumerated places; for the line to cross the "religious birthplace" for: Judaism; Christianity; Islam; Hinduism; Buddhism; Jainism; Incan religion; and, Kemeticism (the ancient Egyptian religion) may not be too surprise to me. Because I do not think this is coincidental since every wise man do things with master plan; the creator of this world must have planed the world before creation. Therefore it is the result of the actual existence of Places of Power positioned by the creator of the world before the world was created. The founders of these religions were merely used by God to accomplish His divine place for the word.
I also learned that I am a mixture of material (soil) and spiritual (Breath of God). Such makes me more submissive, dependent on unseen power prayerful, and studious of the power and being that brought me into existence.

I also learn3e that "DOMINION" to meant having the spirit of excellence and diligence in anything I find myself doing or to do. It does not entitle me or anybody to kill anything/anybody you want, for food nor for sport; dominion does not give me the right to take whatever I want or need, and not worry about the long term impact but dominion has given me power to do all good things accordingly through Him (Christ) that strength me.

I learned that "religion envelops science: science is a subset of religious knowledge, also that science is restricted to knowledge where measurements, calculations, controlled testing are applicable, while the knowledge transmitted through religion is unrestrained.
Finally, I also learned that every religion claim theirs to be the best approach to God. And the ardent believers go all out to win people of other religions to themselves. So the battle of what I term "religious-cracy" continues.
Yours in Him,
Ikpenwa, Chizoba Gabriel

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