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Getting Deeper in Religion

haabibi's picture

Paper #8

November 10, 2015

Getting Deeper in Religion

             My body was telling me how it was so exhausted with all the activities that it had to go through that day, but my spirit was saying the exact opposite. I felt the deepest part of my heart being touched. Putting behind all those years as a wanderer, I started to feel the utmost comfort in my heart –the kind of feeling that made me feel secure, relaxation and warmth.

I have been Christian for my entire life. But as I got older enough to seriously think about my identity, I felt being a Christian was a mere duty that I needed to fulfill my parents’ expectations. Reciting the Lord’s Prayer was more like reciting an incantation; reading a bible felt like reading a foreign language book; the sole purpose of going to church was to get a free meal on Sunday noon. But it was the church youth retreat that happened beginning of this year that opened up the whole new world for me. That strong ineffable emotion that struck me can never be forgotten because from that moment I tried to see every environment in the most righteous religious way possible. Religion has shaped my identity and it has been one of the main forces that led me to change my perspective toward the environment.

Among all the other characters in “All Over Creation” written by Ruth Ozeki, Lloyd Fuller, a potato farmer in Liberty Falls, Idaho, stood out to me the most since we shared a common religious belief and we both had a change in our perspectives that led to change our attitude. He, an authoritative head of a household, who runs the biggest potato farm in Idaho, is a very conventional Methodist. His perspectives toward his job, plants, Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) and family are deeply rooted in his firm Christian belief.    Throughout the novel, Lloyd’s change in perspective on life and family reveals that there is a strong correlation between his religious belief and behavior.

The book does not explicitly details how his religious view has strengthened or changed his behavior. However, as Lloyd goes through the process of dying, his attitude toward life changes, suggesting how much his strengthened religious belief affected his strongly-held ideas. ““I’d always thought it was straightforward. Life or death. Black or white. I didn’t realize there were so many shades of dying. So many different levels”” (Ozeki 348). Until here, it can be inferred that he originally perceived the world in dichotomy like any other non-Christians. Normally, people tend to regard death as the most unrealistic incident that they would ever encounter in their life. Even the doctors and hospital personnel were reluctant to use that D word as the book describes how they preferred to use terms like “End-stage congestive heart failure”, “A terminal situation” instead. As Lloyd struggles and suffers on his way of encountering the moment of his death, he confesses to his daughter ““It’s hard work, dying. I never realized”” (364).

However, Christianity views death as another phase of life or even as a blessing to earn an eternal life. When Jesus was crucified with two other thieves beside him on the cross, he tells one, who repented, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in Paradise.” (Luke 23:43) As Lloyd’s final moment of physical death approaches, he confesses something striking that reflects his new perspective toward his life. He tells his daughter, Yumi, that he had the most wonderful dream of going back to the beginning of life, where all of his loved ones are (366). And the book describes, using Yumi’s narrative, “With no place to go, [Lloyd] felt like he was going back to the beginning” (398). Thus he then stops to feel intimidated by all the sufferings, but starts to feel the sense of renewal by going back to a beautiful beginning, where his loved ones abound –the kind of phenomenon that goes along with Christian view.

Moreover, his strengthened religious belief has also changed his way of expressing his love toward his loved ones. Lloyd was a very blunt father, who felt very uncomfortable about expressing his love toward his loved ones. He also was a very stubborn father who wanted his daughter to grow only in a way he would like. Thus since he was not very comfortable expressing his love and as he was a devout Methodist, he expressed his rigid religious values over his love toward his daughter. He scolds Yumi for her abortion, not considering the psychological and physical effect it had on her, but raging about how she had committed a murder –a sinful act. The book describes this very scene using Yumi’s narrative as a second point of view: “Then he grabs your shoulder and spins you around, bringing his hand down hard across the side of your face. When Lloyd finally speaks, his voice is shaking with rage. … “What gives you the authority to take an innocent life?” “That’s not a law, that’s a license to commit murder! … It’s a sin against God, Yumi! Don’t you see?” … “God creates life,” he says. “Only He can choose to end it.””(201)

No father in this world would hate his daughter, even if she commits a crime. His fatherly love toward his daughter was expressed in a rage with all the other complicated feelings, because he was just not used to express his love. In the Bible, Paul, an apostle of Jesus by the will of God, advises parents not to provoke their children, but to bring them up in the discipline and instruction of Lord. (Ephesians 6:4) After all those years without his daughter by his side, he realized how biological father’s will cannot shape daughter’s future, but only leading her to go awry. With his strengthened religious view, he finally admits that it is only God who can protect her and lead her into His good will.

Seeing how Lloyd has changed throughout the novel and looking back how my perspective toward the world has changed, I thought there is a strong correlation between religious belief and one’s behavior. Lloyd’s life and death show how much change can be made to a religious belief even though he had been a very devout Methodist for his entire life. Reflecting myself to Lloyd, I wonder how my perspective toward the environment would change and shape through religion in the future.

Works Cited

Luke, Ephesians. New International Version(NIV). N.p.: Agape, n.d. Web.

Ruth Ozeki. Parts I-III. All Over Creation. Penguin, 2004.



Anne Dalke's picture

this draft is much tighter, much more focused than your two earlier versions, and you develop here an analogue between yourself and Lloyd as you try to claim a strong correlation between religious belief and behavior. An important piece that seems to be missing now, though, is evidence that Lloyd actually changes his behavior as he goes through the long, complicated process of dying. Your sixth paragraph cites evidence of his original, judgmental position, but your seventh paragraph doesn't actually show us, with text from the novel, that his behavior has changed. You say he realizes that "it is only God who can protect her and lead her into His good will," but I don't see (and you don't show) Ozeki saying that. Quoting from the Bible doesn't prove the claim you are making about what happens in the novel.

The questions you raise about the correlation between religious belief and behavior are of course very important ones, and very much on my mind (as they are on the mind of many people in the world this weekend), as I try to take in and make sense of what happened in Beirut and Paris. I'm thinking especially of the questions David Wong asked about what action will make the world better, and of the analysis offered by Mark LeVine: "let's be honest about how much all of our most cherished ideals, identities and ideologies have contributed to the death and destruction piling up around us. And then, let's figure out how to recapture the sense of justice, mercy and compassion that have always existed - too often in the shadows - at the core of ...the world's great belief systems."