Oh wow - my first comment.
Shtreimel asked what made me do the Contemporary Islam subject and I thought it deserved a post of its own. I realised that I have been extremely lax about explaining my motivations. In my defence, I didn't want this blog to turn into a pathetic self-indulgent rant - like so many other blogs that force me to admit that I'd rather eat broken glass than read. But, as you need to kiss a lot of frogs to find your prince - you need to read a lot of crap to find the jewels (I know, no-one can mix a metaphor like me!). Which, in a roundabout fashion, is my way of complimenting Shreimel on his blog.
Anyway - so why am I studying religion? I first enrolled in a Intro to World Religion subject because it was offered at a suitable time. At that stage I was working on campus, so a subject in the middle of the day was no problem providing it didn't clash with meetings etc. I think I got a 5 for this even though I did very little work. The next semester I enrolled in was Cults, Sects and Alternative Spiritualities. This subject completely hooked me and I got a 6. I hadn't ever done a subject that interested me as much (I have a notoriously short attention span). There were so many levels to it all, and I must admit, it made me feel incredibly ignorant. I realise that I'm not a total moron, but, intellectually, I am incredibly lazy. Somehow, Religous Studies just made me feel interested and connected. Also, I'm good at it and I don't have to do too much work.
I decided on doing my major in Comparative Studies because it satisfied my big picture desires. I've done subjects on Religion and Sexuality, Women in Religion, Drugs and Religion, Gods and Goddesses, Psychology of Religion, The Jesus Cult and Intro to Islam. This semester I'm doing Contemporary Islam and Magic and Astrology in Ancient Jewish and Christian Literature.
I don't come from a religious or anti-religious background. Technically I'm Anglican - but I've only been to Church for the usual christenings, weddings and funerals. Handsomest Husband is
a kind-of lapsed Roman Catholic. My parents and my sister aren't interested in religion but my mother-in-law goes to Church every week.
I like that religion is something that matters to people but I'm not a big fan of organised religion per se. Interestingly, I have no idea about my own belief. Much to Handsomest's consternation, I don't think it matters whether or not I believe, or what I believe in.
As far as I can tell, most religions seem to be about being a good person and doing the "right" thing. As we know the "right" thing can vary drastically depending on your interpretation. Obviously David Koresh thought he was doing the right thing. Your suicide bombers think that they are doing the right thing. So did good old Jim Jones. Religion and belief has incredible strength in governing and controlling people's behaviour and thoughts.
I've just realised that I haven't answered the question. I chose the Islam subject last semester because it was scheduled immediately after my other subject. Otherwise I have to go to Uni for two nights during the week and I can't be bothered. This semester was pretty much the same, but I must admit that Islam does intrigue me. To some degree, this kind of links in with Shtreimel's http://hassid.blogspot.com/
latest post - Exotic Culture - about the attractiveness of the other.
Ok. Fingers tired now.