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Finding God in The City of Angels – Award winning filmmakers Jennifer Jessum and Simon J. Joseph, Ph.D., take an in-depth look at the many faces of faith in Los Angeles, one of the most religiously diverse cities in the world.

These images from the film give a glimpse into the abundant richness of religious and spiritual practices taking place in Los Angeles every day. It is in the midst of this environment that The Guibord Center is creating an exciting, open and inviting sacred space for all to get to truly know one another and build friendships and cooperation free from intolerance and discrimination.

Many of the locations and/or faiths seen here are partners in our efforts to create a dynamic new dimension of cooperation and respect that strengthens and serves everyone in the City of Los Angeles and far beyond.

Images used with permission, © 2010 Flying Limbs Inc., Productions. www.FlyingLimbs.com

Torah Pen Reflection

Photo: Jay Visit

Judaism, like its Abrahamic cousins, Christianity and Islam, is a religion of The Book, a religion that finds God through Holy Scripture. The Torah is comprised of the first five books of the Hebrew Bible, also known to Christians as The First or The Old Testament.

Jews never touch scripture with their hands but rather use a beautiful Torah pen such as this to follow the text. There are numerous synagogues, temples and Jewish schools throughout Los Angeles that represent every form of Judaism.

Learn More About Judaism

Angel Moroni

Photo: Jennifer Jessum

The Angel Moroni stands atop the Los Angeles Temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons). It is said that it was Moroni who delivered the Golden Tablets to Joseph Smith, the Founder of Mormonism.

When The Los Angeles Temple was dedicated in 1956 it was the largest of the Mormon temples and built to be easily accessible by automobile. Its beautiful grounds and visitors’ center are open to the public at no charge every day of the week.

10777 W. Santa Monica Boulevard, Los Angeles, 90025  (310)474-5569
www.lds.org/church/temples/los-angeles-california

Learn about Mormonism

Buddha

Photo: Jay Visit

There are many types of Buddhism practiced in nearly 150 different Buddhist Centers in Los Angeles. They all have in common: following the teachings of Buddha and engaging in the practice of meditation, mindfulness, Dharma study and community.

Hsi Lai Temple, 3456 Glenmark Drive
Hacienda Heights
www.hsilai.org

Learn More About Buddhism

Islamic Texts

Photo: Jennifer Jessum

Islam, like Judaism and Christianity, is a religion based on scripture. For Muslims, The Holy Qur’an is the literal Word of God revealed by the Angel Gabriel to the Holy Prophet Muhammad over the course of twenty-three years. In it are the laws and the commandments and the moral and social codes of behavior for all Muslims to follow. The Holy Qur’an also presents a rich religious philosophy.

Unlike many other religious people, Muslims avoid depicting God through images. Islamic art focuses instead on the calligraphy of scripture and on geometric design. These texts were photographed in the office of the Director of The Islamic Center of Southern California.

434 South Vermont Avenue, Los Angeles, 90020
(213) 382-9200
www.icsconline.org

Learn More About Islam

Jain Statue

Photo: Jennifer Jessum

Jainism is one of the world’s oldest religions. It is rooted in respect for the sanctity and dignity of all living beings and the commitment to a life of non-violence. It emphasizes the need for the individual to move the soul forward towards liberation from suffering and the cycle of rebirth.

Jains are a powerful religious minority in India today. They value higher learning and have significant influence upon political, cultural and ethical spheres. The Jain community in Los Angeles reflects those values.

Jain Center of Southern California,
8032 Commonwealth Ave., Buena Park –
www.jaincenter.net

Stained Glass

Photo: Jennifer Jessum

Stained glass windows have been used in Christian churches and monasteries since the 7th century. In The Middle Ages in particular, they were used to illustrate the stories of The Bible to a predominantly illiterate following. This image is of The Holy Family.

Stained glass was also used by Islamic builders in Southwest Asia by the 8th century. Their stained glass windows and panels were of beautiful repeating geometric patterns that reflected the orderliness and wondrous beauty of God.

Stained glass windows at St. John’s Episcopal Cathedral, Los Angeles.

Ganesh

Photo: Jennifer Jessum

Lord Ganesh, the elephant headed deity riding a mouse, is one of the most popular of the Hindu deities. He is worshiped before any undertaking to remove obstacles and attain success. He is the son of the Divine Mother, Parvati, and Lord Shiva. While Hinduism is said to represent the third largest religion in the world today, the word “Hindu” derives from the word “India” and refers not to a unified system of belief but rather to a large, diverse variety of religious traditions and philosophies that have developed in India over thousands of years.

Vedanta Society of Southern California
1946 Vendanta Place, Hollywood, CA 90068
(323) 465-7114
hollywood@vedanta.org
www.vedanta.org

Learn about Hinduism

Mosaic Angels

Mosaic Angels

Photo: Jennifer Jessum

Angels are super natural beings common to many faith traditions including ChristianityJudaism and Islam. They are God’s messengers and also guard and protect human beings on God’s behalf.

Mosaic at St. John’s Episcopal Cathedral, Los Angeles

Wat Thai Guardians

Wat Thai Guardians

Photo: Jennifer Jessum

These giant figures guard the entrance to the Wat Thai Buddhist Temple in North Hollywood. Their job is to keep evil out. Guardians or heavenly protectors are seen around the entrance of many different types of religious and faith traditions’ houses of prayer and worship.

The Wat Thai Buddhist Temple in North Hollywood is the largest Thai Theravada Buddhist Temple in the United States. On weekends it becomes a great spot for a joyful brunch.

Wat Thai Buddhist Temple
8225 Coldwater Canyon Drive
North Hollywood   (818) 780-4200
www.thai-la.com  or Facebook at Wat Thai Los Angeles

Learn about Buddhism

 

Sufi Dervishes

Sufi Dervishes

Photo: Jennifer Jessum

The Dervishes are Sufi Muslims from Turkey who are followers of the Persian mystic and poet, Rumi. They whirl as part of a formal ceremony called the Sema where they symbolically turn toward Truth and lovingly seek to reach God and then carry God’s Love into their own lives and out into the world.

The Mevlevi Order – The Threshold Society
sufism.org

Learn about Sufism

Sikhs on Baisakhi Day

Sikhs on Baisakhi Day

Photo: Jennifer Jessum

Honoring one of the primary celebrations of spring harvest, the five men with orange banners represent The Sikh Panj Piare or The Five Beloved Ones – the first five devotees to be baptized by the Guru in 1699. They symbolize the Guru, himself, and the Sikh community’s devotion to a life-style of service and social justice.

The curved sword, Kirpan, carried by all Sikh men and women is a very important symbol to Sikhs. It stands for their obligation to defend themselves and the weak and the innocent against oppression and injustice. Sikhism is the only religion that mandates that male adherents cover their head with a turban at all times as a form of reverence to God. Many women Sikhs also wear a turban.

Learn about Sikhism

Gold Buddha

Gold Buddha

Photo: Jennifer Jessum

The followers of Buddha venerate him as the embodiment of enlightenment, one who is fully “awake”. Hi is one who has successfully disengaged from everything that is negative and evolved everything positive within himself to become a being of compassion and wisdom. Veneration is an act of respect, not to be confused with an act of worship of an object itself. The object of the veneration symbolizes something greater and points us in the right direction.

Image from Wat Thai Temple

Learn about Buddhism

Censing the Gospel

Censing the Gospel

Photo: Jennifer Jessum

While there are many very different forms of Christianity and ways that it is practiced, all Christians agree that the Gospel, the Good News of the life, death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ is at the center of their faith. The Gospel refers to the canonical Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John which tell the story of God’s redemption of human kind through the saving Grace of His Son, Jesus Christ who came bringing the message of God’s Love.

Many faiths use censing (or smudging) as part of their worship. In Christianity the practice of using incense during the worship service is a symbol and affirmation of the sanctifying grace of Holy Spirit and of the prayers of saints rising towards heaven.

St. John’s Cathedral
http://www.stjohnsla.org

Learn about Christianity

Muslim Woman Praying

Muslim Woman Praying

Photo: Jennifer Jessum

The word Islam means “to submit” . Muslims submit to the Will of God. They pray five times each day, often in congregations but also alone in an appropriately quiet and respectful place. The Holy Qur’an requires both men and women to dress modestly – for women this includes covering their hair. The scarf they use is called a hijab. Islam honors women as equal to men. The Holy Qur’an mandates reverence for women.

Learn about Islam

Sikh Meditation

Sikh Meditation

Photo: Jennifer Jessum

Sikhs meditating on the sacred hymns of the divine Siri Guru Granth Sahib at Guru Ram Das Ashram.  Sikhs bow to the Word as embodied in the Siri Guru Granth Sahib and receive their daily instruction through a verse selected randomly each day. The role of the Siri Guru Granth Sahib is central in the life of every Sikh.

Sikhism was the first religion from India to settle in America in the 1800’s. While recognized as the fifth-largest organized religion in the world, it is truly a Dharma, a spiritual way of living.

Guru Ram Das Ashram, 1620 Preuss Road, Los Angeles, California.
www.gururamdasashram.org

Learn about Sikhism

Hare Krishna Chanting

Hare Krishna Chanting

Photo: Jennifer Jessum

The International Society of Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON), also known as The Hare Krishna Movement, began in the United States in 1966 with Swami Prabhupada. This movement brought to the U.S. core beliefs found in ancient Hindu writings. Its followers are dedicated to the practice of bhakti yoga or devotion to God through chanting to Krishna as the highest form of God, believing that the vibration created by repeatedly chanting God’s name will lead to a state of pure God-Consciousness.

While The Hare Krishna Movement did face many difficulties with how it was run in the recent past, today ISKCON has remedied those difficulties and developed new structures to help it fulfill its spiritual goals in a healthy and transparent manner.

The International Society of Krishna Consciousness
3755 Watseka Avenue, Los Angeles 90034
(310) 839-1572
http://www.iskcon.org/

Episcopal Priest Chanting

Episcopal Priest Chanting

Photo: Jennifer Jessum

Christians, like their Jewish and Muslim brethren, have always included song and/or chant as an integral part of their worship. Unlike some religious or spiritual traditions, Christian chants and songs are usually not about the vibration or the music, they are about the words themselves.

Before people could read, they learned about their faith by learning its theology and stories through song. Gregorian chants, which are sung with no musical accompaniment, blend the many voices of the choir and/or the congregation into one and so the very act of chanting itself unifies the community.

St. John’s Cathedral
http://saintjohnsla.org

Aztec Prayer

Aztec Prayer

Photo: Jennifer Jessum

While the Aztec religion is not practiced as a religion per se in Southern California today, vestiges of it are recalled in various local festivals in recognition of the spiritual and religious heritage of the peoples who inhabited these lands long before the current settlers.

Learn about Indigenous Spirituality

Chumash Drummer

Chumash Drummer

Photo: Jennifer Jessum

The Chumash and Tongva tribes are the Native American people who lived along the coast and inland in Southern California for thousands of years before the first Europeans arrived. Their rich spiritual practice is interwoven deeply and intimately with the land and all the creatures that inhabit it with them. They were and continue to be a peaceful people with a profound respect for the sanctity of all life. “Tongva” means “people of the earth”.

Learn about Native Spirituality

Self Realization Fellowship Lake Shrine

Self Realization Fellowship Lake Shrine

Photo by Jennifer Jessum

Paramahansa Yogananda was an Indian yogi and guru who introduced Kriya Yoga and meditation to the West. He founded the Self-Realization Fellowship (SRF) in 1920 as a spiritual organization dedicated to promoting the harmony of all religions through sharing Yogananda’s teachings and running yoga and meditation centers. It has over 600 temples and meditation centers around the world and is headquartered in Southern California.

The Self-Realization Fellowship Lake Shrine dedicated by Yogananda in 1950 is a beautiful 10-acre site located on Sunset Boulevard just a few blocks from the Pacific Ocean. Thousands of visitors come each year to enjoy the scenic beauty and serenity of this spiritual sanctuary with its gardens and natural spring-fed lake.

www.lakeshrine.org/

Hindu Temple Malibu

Malibu Hindu Temple

Photo: Jennifer Jessum

The Hindu Temple in Malibu, dedicated the Hindu god Venkateswara, and built in the traditional South Indian style, was built in 1981. The temple has two complexes – the upper complex with Lord Venkateswara as the presiding deity and the lower complex with Lord Shiva as the presiding deity. In addition to the presiding deity, both complexes have shrines for other deities including Venkateswara, Rama, Lakshman, Sita, Hanuman, Ganesh, Padmavathi, Bhoodevi, Shiva, Krishna and Radha.

The priests live on the grounds of the temple, which  is open every day of the year at 1600 Las Virgenes Canyon Rd, Calabasas, CA 91302 http://malibuhindutemple.org/

Learn about Hinduism

 

Hsi Lai Buddhist Temple

Hsi Lai Buddhist Temple

Photo by Jennifer Jessum

Hsi Lai Temple is a traditional Chinese Buddhist mountain monastery in the United States, located in the foothill region of Hacienda Heights. The name “Hsi Lai” means Coming West in the sense of the “Great Buddhadharma Coming West.”

The temple is affiliated with one of Taiwan’s largest religious organizations, the Fo Guang Shan Buddhist order. The temple, like its mother temple in Taiwan, practices Humanistic Buddhism, which incorporates all of the eight traditional schools of Chinese Buddhism – especially the Linji Chan and Pure Land schools – to provide guidance deemed most useful to modern life.

Hsi Lai Temple, 3456 Glenmark Drive
Hacienda Heights
www.hsilai.org

Learn about Buddhism

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