This article was originally published by Rachel on the Life@UofT Blog.
Since becoming the Multi-Faith Centre’s blogging intern, I’ve learned a few things from my experiences with the centre that I thought I should share.
Faith is complicated
This is one of the most prominent discoveries I’ve made during my involvement with the Multi-Faith Centre. While this should be obvious, mainstream concepts of religion are often vague, depersonalized, and misleading. “Faith” is a broad term, and it encompasses many different types of spiritual beliefs that often lie outside of the notions of religion that are portrayed in the media. The MFC, and its clubs and services, help break down the walls that keep us from discovering the many diverse ways people relate to their faiths.
During an interfaith leadership event that I attended earlier this year, we discussed the theme of identity. The group was asked to fill out pie charts with labels that we thought composed a large part of our identity, our life, and out values. For example, “student” was a pretty large portion of my pie. Looking at everyone else’s chart forced me to recognize how nuanced identity is, and that a person’s religion is just a slice of the pie. Religion doesn’t define a person, but it is a part of their identity. Yet, sometimes we tend to think of religion as something extreme, and as something that dictates personhood. In reality, those who belong to a religion experience their faith in many different ways and to different degrees. Although religions are widely shared belief systems, how one practices their faith is a deeply personal decision. Judging or assuming never gets you very far, so asking meaningful, respectful questions is ultimately the best way to learn more.
If you shy away from asking personal questions, learning from the many groups and events held at the MFC is the best alternative
There is always something happening at the Multi-Faith Centre, from Open Mic Nights, to student faith groups, to yoga and meditation. For example, Friends, Food, and Scripture, Open Table, and U of T’s Spirituality Café all meet on a weekly basis. Each of these groups help individuals to understand themselves, others, and faith through dialogue and sharing with one another. Every event is fun and/or enlightening. I always walk away knowing something or feeling different. Campus Chaplains are also available to help with faith-related support and offer insights into justice and ethics.
Most events offer free food
Obviously you shouldn’t be attending the events just for the food. However, commuting to school can be hard and on-campus food expenses add up. So it can be ideal to grab food when and wherever you can. With that being said, the events are really interesting, inviting, and eye-opening, so why not attend? Most clubs and events have food that is accessible for most people, including vegan/vegetarian and halal options. Specific clubs that offer snacks and food include Multi-Faith’s Muffin Madness, Friends Food and Scripture, Open Table, and many others.
If you’re interested in any upcoming events, below is a list of some Multi-Faith functions to look out for
Talking Mindfulness with James & Mohamed on March 10, 2020 from 4 – 5 p.m.
Addressing Gender-Based Violence in Faith Communities on March 11, 2020 from 5 – 7:30 p.m.
Healing with Yoga on March 12, 2020 from 6 – 7 p.m.