Currently, there are 11 faith-based student organizations on campus. While this changes year to year based on groups’ request for allocations from Temple Student Government, students have a variety of outlets, some mainstream and others relatively unknown. The following is a description of three lesser known groups on campus.
Lion of Judah Rastafarian Club
For Desmond “Bobodesi” Brown, being Rastafarian is more than just practicing a particular religion – it’s how he lives his life.
“It’s the way that we eat, it’s the way that we dress and it’s the way that we speak,” said Brown, whose priest-given Rastafarian name is Bobodesi. “It’s our way of life.”
Brown, a native of Jamaica and current Ph.D. student of biochemistry at Temple, founded the Lion of Judah Rastafarian club in 2003 for the practice of the Christian religion and lifestyle. The group, headed by Brown, meets with city-wide Rastafarian groups in a community building in West Philadelphia early Saturday mornings for chanting, drumming, food and fellowship with approximately 50 people, 20 of whom are usually Temple students.
Rastafarianism originates from Ethiopia, where the first monotheistic religion of one-God worship in Africa began. Rastafarians also believe that God is a physical presence in everything and everyone on earth.
“Our heaven is something that’s on earth. It’s not something that’s in the sky,” he said. “When my sister and my brothers see me, they still greet me as, ‘Oh yes my Lord.’ That’s how we greet each other still. It’s still that concept of being able to see God in each other.”
Contact Desmond Brown at email@example.com for more information about the club or visit www.houseofbobo.com to learn about the Rastafarian culture.
Vedic Heritage Society
When Roli Khare enrolled at Temple last year, she saw a void for students like her who follow the Vedic tradition, the study of the Bhagavad Gita.
“Here at Temple, I found that we don’t have a lot of those resources,” said Khare, a second year Beasley School of Law student. “Meanwhile, I was struggling through law school, and I felt that if there’s nothing else now … that there was no organization … that I would create the organization.”
So Khare revitalized the then dormant Vedic Heritage Society. The Vedic tradition embraces Hinduism, Jainism, Sikhism and Buddhism faiths through study of the tradition’s most holy text, the Bhagavad Gita.
Every other week the group meets for “Cafe Krishna,” a gathering for members to meditate and study the Ghita in a relaxed, coffeehouse-themed environment.
The essence of the Vedic philosophy is to become closer to God, and this reconciliation of love between God and man can only be achieved through meditation and chanting.
At each meeting, members chant a pattern of mantras 108 times, each mantra representing one bead on the meditation string they hold.
Oftentimes a meeting’s theme will connect to current events. Most visitors to Cafe Krishna do not have a Vedic background but enjoy discussing the Gita’s themes, Khare said.
“We look at the philosophical tenants that lay in the Gita and then we have a discussion about it and how we relate it to our own daily lives, because if it doesn’t relate to our daily lives as students, then it has no use to us,” Khare said. “Students get really into these. We have these three-hour conversations.”
The Vedic Heritage Society meets every other Tuesday in the intellectual heritage lounge on the second floor of Anderson Hall at 4 p.m. Visit www.cafekrishna.com for more information on the Vedic tradition.
Fellowship of Christian Athletes
When the winning gets tough, sometimes athletes need something beyond the playing field to find strength. The Fellowship of Christian Athletes, headed by Chaplain Terry Hill, is open to athletes, student trainers or anyone looking for another way to worship, said member Jamie Beiler, a senior elementary education major.
FCA will often have a guest speaker, including a recent appearance by a player of the NFL, to talk about issues related to Christian athletes. Running themes include team unity, perseverance and facing the everyday challenges of being a student athlete. Meeting lessons and games are often taken from the FCA’s version of the Bible, God’s Game Plan.
“[God’s Game Plan is] geared toward athletes,” Beiler said. “Every lesson has to do with athletes and what they do in their lives because of sports.”
The national organization has more chapters in area high schools than colleges.
Meetings usually begin with prayer, followed by a game or refreshments and an ice breaker activity. A speaker will talk to the group or someone will give a lesson.
“It gives [athletes] a unity on their team … they know that others on their team are watching out for them,” Beiler said.
The group meets every Wednesday at 8:30 p.m. in Pearson Hall, room 211.
Sammy Davis can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.