Friends of Different Faiths
Written by Katazyna Ignatik
On the 500th anniversary of Reformation Day, my friend Hannah came to class decked out in Lutheran paraphernalia—hat, socks, sunglasses, and shirt (the shirt said “Luther is my homeboy”). She and several other Protestants got together to sing the Lutheran hymn “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God.”
My friend Patrick, on the other hand, got a group together to sing Latin hymns from the Catholic Mass. He carried a Vatican flag around with him on Reformation Day and pulled it out at apropos moments (if you know Patrick, the fact of his conveniently having a Vatican flag with him is not even surprising).
After both Catholics and Protestants had finished singing their hymns, the groups broke up and mixed, friends from each group going over to talk to and laugh with friends in the other.
Hillsdale houses a variety of students from different religious backgrounds, including Judaism and Buddhism. Even the large Christian population of Hillsdale is extraordinarily diverse. And most of these students aren’t just Christian in name. Many believe and try to live out what their faith teaches. If you didn’t think sincere Catholics or Calvinists existed anymore, you’ll find them at Hillsdale—as my friends and I mutually discovered.
While it might not be hard to remain Christian with the genuinely tolerant community Hillsdale provides, it might be hard for a student to remain a half-baked Christian. Since so many students actually care about their faith, they’re willing to actively defend it, in conversations more serious than those had during Reformation Day shenanigans. So the challenge at Hillsdale is—do you know the minutiae of the faith you hold? Can you adequately defend it to someone of another faith? And if not, are you willing to learn?
We come to Hillsdale to be academically challenged. People view academic challenge as a good thing. Through stretching our abilities, we become used to reaching for higher and higher things. The same principle applies to personal challenges. The knowledge and care of people around you will force you to seriously examine your own faith, to learn more about it so you can talk about it intelligently, because you care about truth. At Hillsdale, we’re encouraged to seek objective truth, which many people believe lies in religious faith. If you never come into contact with other people’s opinions, you might never fully realize the rationale behind why you hold your own.
Hillsdale is a valuable place to realize that there are good people who don’t hold your views. Even if they can’t convince you or you can’t convince them of certain things, you can still connect and enjoy each other’s company. The common ground that we hold—a belief in something greater, a common goal of pursuing truth—allows for this sort of interfaith friendship. And it certainly makes for a dynamic Reformation Day.
Katarzyna Ignatik, ’20, studies English. She strives to live optimistically and deeply, with a healthy sense of the hilarity of life. Katarzyna believes that the world should have more genuine community, witty conversation, and appreciation for pleasant little things like green grass and bread pudding.
Published in November 2018