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The Effects of Religion

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Anthropology 1001 - Final Paper

The Effects of Religion

Introduction

I have done and experienced many things as a kid up until now, but one thing I have never been to was a church. I never saw the purpose in going to church because I know there is no God in this time frame. Even if there was a God, it's in the past where humans probably ceased to exist. So why do people go to church and worship a nonexistent thing in this world? I realized how bias I sound because I never been to church or was never really acknowledged about religion so my opinion is insignificant. I decided to do fieldwork at a church and find out if religion has any effect on the people attending. My research was particularly directed towards Asians and Christians because the church I did analyzed was a Christian church in Chinatown.

Fieldwork Notes

As I was on my way to my fieldwork site, I was having vague images of what it was going to be like. I have never been to a Christian church or even had a glimpse of what the inside looks like. The only image I have is the big clock outside almost every church with gates surrounding a house. However, I do watch TV; churches in television would basically be a red carpet in the middle with seats on two sides. Then, Jesus would be hanging on a cross at the front with the priest preaching.

When I arrived to the church it was completely different from what I had imagined it to be. Here are some things that I have noticed as soon as I walked in the church.

* Everybody seems to know each other and was talking with smiles on their face.

* People greeted me one by one and welcomed me for being a new guest.

* On one corner of the room, there was a glass box with a guy playing the drums inside.

* On the opposite corner of the room, a nice lady was playing the piano.

* There was a powerpoint presentation.

* 75% of the room was woman.

Afterwards, I would expect a priest to just come up and preach but...

* A lady came up to the front and started greeting everyone.

* She began to sing a very repetitive song with a 2 line lyrical song.

* I was given a welcome for being new to the church by the lady on the mic.

This was extremely different from what I was expecting and we were also asked to stand while sang the opening song. It was very tiring but after an hour of repeating the same lyrics of the song, they told us to sit down. Two words which were mainly being repeated were "hallelujah" and "amen". I remember very clearly that one of the lines was "We need you Jesus." I felt like everyone at the church was being brainwashed in some way. I didn't understand why they needed Jesus so much and how Jesus saves them. Everybody seemed so into it, and prayed with their eyes closed as the song was being sung.

When we sat down after singing so long, my expectations of a church finally came. The priest walked up to the front and asked everyone to take out a bible. He began to read a couple of pages in the bible and explained the meanings and reasoning behind the bible. It was very long and as I looked around, not everyone was paying attention. Some people were just reading the bible, some were listening and some even began to sleep. I saw a boy playing with the iPad the whole time he was at church.

Afterwards, I spoke with one of the members of the church. He was very friendly and he was actually one of the first to greet me. He probably goes every week because he spotted me as a guest as soon as he walked in. I had a chat with him and asked him why he came to church? He responds with, "I come to church, looking for an answer. The answer to why things happen in life." He patted me and walked away laughing.

After attending church for myself, I realized it's not all about worshiping God. I feel like it's more about shaping a person's characteristics to an ideal persona such as God. People that attended the church were mainly low income families or extremely nice people. Some attend to search for that hope that is given by the church to a better future. Other people go to church so they are on the correct path in life. Overall, whatever the reason may be, going to church really does change a person.

Research

After conducting fieldwork in a church to know more about religion, I conducted research to confirm on my theories. What in particular changes in a person that attends church? I had to find out the role religion plays in other people's lives. In this article, Religion, Health, and the Psychology of Religion: How the Research on Religion and Health Helps Us Understand, James W. Jones tells us how religion impacts people's lives psychologically. Religion improves people's health, reduces unhealthy habits and you even get social support.

This article explains how religion improves your health. During fieldwork, this lady went up to the front of the church all enthusiastic and repeatedly said "amen" and worshipped god. Apparently it was a mediating technique that churches uses to induce relaxation. Jones explains that, "Many religious practices (like meditation, centering prayer, contemplative activities) elicit what is called in the literature the "relaxation response" which has been shown to contribute to a reduction in sympathetic nervous system activity, reduced muscle tension, reduced activity of anterior pituitary/adrenocortical axis, lower blood pressure and heart rate and changes in brain waves."

It worked because soothing and relaxing music were being played. Then, we were supposed to sing with our eyes closed. They were trying to bring everyone in a state where everything is okay because there is always hope.

Religion reduces involvement in unhealthy habits as well. Alcohol abuse, smoking, drug abuse, unsafe sex suicide attempts, violence prone behavior and unhealthy diet are all things you will less likely

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