Nicolas Anundson

"It was just the kind of community that I was looking for, and it was a niche that I could excel in."

We are a club dedicated to the interfaith (and non-faith) dialogue and academic discussion of the world’s religions. We discuss aspects of many religions through an academic lens, and we invite everyone to join us as we learn about what the world has to offer.

Email: rena.lauer@oregonstate.edu or kevin.osterloh@oregonstate.edu

Facebook: Religious Studies at OSU

 

Who can join? Why join?

Anyone and everyone can join the Religious Studies Club (RSC). We invite everyone to come, check us out and get involved in the broader conversation. It is an opportunity to analyze various aspects of life from a historical approach. Also, we try and plan trips in the community to explore various traditions. While I was not involved in the specific event, the RSC went to a Buddhist temple and observed a meditation with the congregants, so it is these kinds of events that are just a sample of what we do in the RSC.

How did you get involved?

After spending two terms in Dr. Osterloh and Dr. Lauer’s classes during the 2014-15 school year and many hours in their offices, I was invited to visit some of the events. This past year, I put time aside to actually go to the meet-and-greet dinner in the fall, and I instantly fell in love with the club. It was just the kind of community that I was looking for, and it was a niche that I could excel in.

What is your best memory?

I think the most memorable time was when we were holding a Lunch With the Expert with Larycia Hawkins, and she said something that has stuck out to me. She said that our generation has been taught to be tolerant, but at the same time, we are groomed not to bring up conversations about politics and religion — or other sensitive topics — in mixed company. She went on to say that we cannot be tolerant if we will not talk about it.

What is the community like?

The experiences that I have are consistently welcoming and heartfelt. We have invited many experts from the community and beyond to come and talk at our meetings, and it has been nothing but wonderful. Each term, we try to hold a dialogue dinner, coffee with an expert and then a finals study break. For many of these, people from different communities and traditions may join us, we will ask them questions, and in turn, they ask us questions as well. For winter term 2016, we invited the founder of the first all-women’s mosque in America, Hasna Masnavi. She gave a talk at a dialogue dinner about her experiences in her own community and the community in Los Angeles. It was a great talk.

When did you first feel a sense of belonging on campus?

When I joined this club, I felt welcomed and validated. As someone who comes from a deeply religious background and who does not necessarily have those same beliefs anymore, I felt that I could share my experiences without fear of condemnation.

How have you grown from being involved?

I have learned a lot about who I am as a person and about my beliefs. I have also grown as a person who sees that the world is in fact a smaller place than I have thought in the past. One of my biggest takeaways from the club is that even though I hold different beliefs from someone else, we can still have a constructive conversation and an enjoyable one about what we believe, the history of our beliefs and where it puts us in our own society. The RSC focuses on the scholarly conversation of religion, so it is less about what I believe and why I believe it, but rather where my beliefs come from and how they influence my life.