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A World of Faith and Cultures in Our Neighborhoods:
Presentations offered in Ripley County libraries

Jared Rogers

An encouraging educational program was presented at Batesville and Milan public libraries on Saturday, April 22 called “A World of Faith and Cultures in Our Neighborhoods.” The presentation, organized by the Ripley County Tourism Bureau, and funded by grants through the Indiana Humanities Commission and the Ripley County Community Foundation, offered both academic and personal views regarding our world’s rich diversity of religions and how they are practiced in our home state of Indiana.

Group answers questions about religious backgroundsJARED ROGERS PHOTO
Pictured from left, Belinda Badr Saad, Anita Reynolds and Samuel Girod contemplate and answer questions about their religious backgrounds.

Sarah Imhoff, Associate Professor of Religious Studies at IU, gave a broad overview of many ‘western’ religions, including Judaism, Christianity, Islam, and Baha’i, all faiths born in the middle east during differing time periods. She noted how culture is inextricably linked to religious belief and practice. For example, she said, “Communion served in a Greek Orthodox church will look much different than how it is served in an American Protestant church, and both of those will differ from how it is offered in an African church.”

Ashlee Andrews, a PhD candidate in IU’s Religious Studies program, offered insight on her knowledge of ‘eastern’ religions, including Hinduism and Buddhism. Both traditions are born out of India and now have many sects throughout Asia and the world. Interestingly, she shared that the term, ‘Hinduism’ is merely a catch-all phrase for dozens of indigenous religions in south Asia, labeled by the British as they colonized the area. Both scholars spoke on the following theme: Every faith in the world has more in common than different. They all seek to understand and relate to the spiritual nature of life. Often, it is only the cultural practices and language that contrast.

A panel discussion followed, with three practitioners of different faiths detailing their personal experiences. Belinda (Hartwell) Badr Saad, a practicing Muslim, described her journey to Islam after being raised as Pentecostal. She echoed the statement that Islam and Christianity have much in common, and that it is possible for both religious cultures to thrive in peace if humans are able to foster understanding for one another. She explained, “The word ‘Islam’ means ‘submission to God’. Just as Jesus submitted his life to serving God, so do Muslims.”

Anita Reynolds spoke on the Baha’i faith, a comparatively new religion born in Iran that now has over 5 million followers worldwide. She stated about her faith, “Wars have been fought over the name for God. Baha’i doesn’t place labels or judgment [on language]. We believe in the investigation of truth, and in individual education so that people may learn the [spiritual] texts and decide for themselves.”

Finally, Samuel Girod, a former Old Order Mennonite-Amish, told his story of leaving the Amish faith at age 30, which he found to be socially restricting, and his journey to finding peace in his practice of Christianity. While the Amish are Christians, he noted, they follow varying degrees of traditional lifestyles, and often place more emphasis on social rules than on a relationship with a divine figure.

The “World of Faith…” program will be held again on Saturday, August 19, with presentations at Osgood and Versailles (Tyson) libraries. The public is encouraged to attend and learn more about diverse beliefs in Indiana and beyond.

‘American Pickers’ to film in Indiana

American Pickers to visit IndianaMike Wolfe, Frank Fritz and their team are excited to return to Indiana! They plan to film episodes of the hit series “American Pickers” throughout the region in June 2017.

“American Pickers” is a documentary series that explores the fascinating world of antique picking on the History channel. The hit show follows Mike and Frank, two of the most skilled pickers in the business, as they hunt for America’s most valuable antiques. They are always excited to find sizeable, unique collections and learn the interesting stories behind them.

As they hit the back roads from coast to coast, Mike and Frank are on a mission to recycle and rescue forgotten relics. Along the way, the “Pickers” want to meet characters with remarkable and exceptional items. The pair hopes to give historically significant objects a new lease on life, while learning a thing or two about America’s past along the way. Mike and Frank have seen a lot of rusty gold over the years and are always looking to discover something they’ve never seen before. They are ready to find extraordinary items and hear fascinating tales about them.

“American Pickers” is looking for leads and would love to explore your hidden treasure. If you or someone you know has a large, private collection or accumulation of antiques that the “Pickers” can spend the better part of the day looking through, send us your name, phone number, location, and description of the collection with photos to: or call 855-OLD-RUST. Click here to visit American Pickers on Facebook.

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