Studies Spark Spirituality

Lizzie Martinez

Senior reporter

“Every moment and every event of every man’s
life on earth plants something in his soul.”

-Thomas Merton

Photo by Ryan Gerdes

College is full of life-changing moments. For senior Luke Rembold, junior Andrew Webber and sophomore Yasi Ordoubadi, college has been a time for
spiritual discovery.

“It’s part of the whole ‘establishing an independent identity’ when you are away from your family for the first time,” Chaplain David Massey said. “It’s a common dynamic to strike out in a new [spiritual] direction.”

Massey said his job is to journey with the students as they explore new and old traditions. He said the journey does not often end until a person is in their mid-30s.

“It’s a natural part of life,” Massey said. “Students are asking, ‘Who am I? How do I relate to the world?’”

Spiritual investigation in college has led these three students to deepen their faith in a variety of traditions, from Christianity, to Judaism to Buddhism.

“You can do no great things, just small things with great love.”

- Mother Theresa

As a freshman, Rembold said if you told him the person he was going to become, he would never have believed it. Though he always identified himself as a Christian, he said he finally feels as if he is living the life of a true Christian.

Barefoot, as usual, and wearing a “Jesus was homeless”
T-shirt, Rembold is humble about his faith journey.

“I like to think I have changed,” he said. “It’s definitely not a one-step-and-done process. Christianity is a lifestyle.”

Rembold’s involvement with Campus Crusade for Christ, then as co-founder of Salt ‘N Light, has led him on a journey to discover what he values and how it
differs from mainstream Christianity.

Campus Crusade emphasizes finding the “lost” on campus and bringing them the word of God, but Rembold said he was uncomfortable with that mission. He said he prefers to emphasize components of Christianity such as mercy, forgiveness, social justice, compassion, caring for the poor and love.

“To me, as a Christian, that’s what Jesus did,” Rembold said. “One of my frustrations [with Christianity] is it defines itself as things [it is] not as opposed to things it is, like showing mercy and love.”

This realization did not come easily to Rembold, and he said he still struggles with being in the minority since the most vocal Christians focus on saving
the “lost.”

Rembold is passionate about social justice, building community and making
every small action count, whether it is smiling at someone or talking to a
homeless person.

After graduation, Rembold said he simply wants to help people.

“I want to show forgiveness and love, help those who have nothing and letting those things permeate my life no matter what my profession, or lack thereof, is,” Rembold said. “Regardless, it is a journey that is definitely a continual process
of questioning.”

“Contemplation is the highest and most
paradoxical form of self-realization,
attained by apparent self-annihilation.”

– Thomas Merton

From his beginnings as a political science major, Webber felt drawn toward the study of religion. He said he has always explored different elements of spirituality throughout his life, but Linfield offered him the chance to engage in the academic study of religion.

Now a religious studies major, Webber approaches Judaism with thematic questions he can explore.

“I look at every class as a different level of analysis for the same set of questions,” Webber said. “With every question you ask God, He answers with another question.”

For students seeking new spiritual journeys, there often seems to be a deliberate choice of what religion to study. However, Webber said he felt called to Judaism.

“It’s not me picking it,” he said. “It’s really important for me to have a religion or a spirituality that complements me, and that I complement. [Judaism has] helped me know myself.”

During his first Shabbott, or Sabbath, dinner at the house of an Orthodox rabbi, Webber said he immediately felt a connection with the community and the traditions, two important components of the Jewish religion. He especially felt drawn to the support system he found in searching for answers and for discovering new questions.

“What I’m doing now is immersing myself deeper and deeper in the community whenever possible,” Webber said.

This summer, Webber spent six weeks studying modern Hebrew at Hebrew University in Jerusalem, Israel, on a non-Linfield affiliated study abroad program.

“The experiences I had were very meaningful, and I can’t describe them in words,” Webber said.

Converting to Judaism can take anywhere from one to six years, Webber said, and he has just begun his journey.

“Whatever relationships you have attracted in your life at this moment are precisely the ones you need in your life at this moment.  There is a hidden meaning behind all events, and this hidden meaning is serving your own evolution.”

– Deepak Chopra

Growing up in Iran, Islam dominated Ordoubadi’s life from a young age. She said her father is very religious, and she was immersed in the Muslim culture
everyday at school. As a child, she studied the Koran and learned Arabic. She rose at 5 a.m. for the first of five daily prayers. Despite the continual pressure to be Muslim, Ordoubadi said she never believed.

“Even though I studied it in the books, I never felt the presence of any god,”
she said.

Because of the closed nature of the country to other religions, Ordoubadi never had the chance to explore other faiths until she came to the United States.

While attending a Deepak Chopra speech in San Diego, Cali., with her uncle, who is Buddhist, Ordoubadi said she immediately felt called to Buddhism.

“I had to come halfway around the world to discover Buddhism, when Iran is so close to Tibet,” Ordoubadi said, smiling.

She immediately began reading Chopra’s books and exploring the faith and now considers herself a Buddhist, though her family in Iran does not know.

“You could say I am a beginner, but I am very determined,” Ordoubadi said. “In Buddhism, the emphasis is on yourself; you are in charge of your own life.”

Ordoubadi is now working with others to start a Buddhism club on campus where students can gather for meditation and discussion.

“Buddhism is not so much about practicing rituals,” Ordoubadi said. “Buddhism is about every day life.”

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