California Catholic Daily reporter, Mary Rose, visits a California college each week and asks students about God, good, and evil. Interview with Jesse, who is studying business administration, outside the Citrus College Campus Center on August 28, 2019.

Do you consider yourself religious?

Jesse: Yeah, I’d say I do.

How does that play out in your life?

Jesse: Having good ethics and morals, respecting everybody. I know that there’s a higher power. All this didn’t come from nothing. Having that internal connection with a higher power really helps me go about my day. I’ll go to church once in awhile, but you just have to do you.

Wherever you go just respect people. I wear my rosary. I recently lost my grandma. She gave this to me and so it’s very meaningful because she didn’t die from a sickness or anything, she got run over and they killed her like that. I had just hung out with her. She was at our house a couple days before that happened. She went back to Mexico and she got killed. But when she was here, we were talking and hanging out. We were happy. The way that plays into religion is that the more you believe in it the more you see it. It’s weird because before she came that time, I told my mom, “What if this is the last time she comes?” And then this goes and happens and somehow, someway we foresaw this happening.

If an atheist asked you why you believe in God when you can’t see Him, what would you say?

Jesse: There’s a lot of things we can’t see that affect people. Like pollution, you can’t really see it unless you’re up in the mountains, then you see that big old cap of black smoke. If people never go up there and see it, it’s just going to be like “there’s nothing in the air, what are you talking about?” So if you haven’t ever been spiritually connected to an event that has changed you, I get it, but you should leave some room for openness. You have to roll with it and then you’ll see it. They say, “oh, but I don’t want to waste my time trying to see if it’s true or not.” What else are you going to do? Assume that it’s not and just go about your day? You don’t have that little seed of curiosity? Just stick with it, it’ll work, trust me. That would be my argument. I wouldn’t be like, let me physically show you. No, I think people come across religion in very different stages in their life. Different events kind of push you toward it.

What does your rosary symbolize to you?

Jesse: My grandma. It’s just like a spirit or an angel. We used to go to church. We had this lady named Doña Consuela, your typical Mexican lady who knows about all this religion stuff. She taught us a lot about religion, a lot about saints and stuff. Witchcraft has been in the mix. There is good in the Bible and there’s also bad in the Bible. I think it’s the morals and the respect but there’s also a spiritual connection. I don’t know what she’s called, a witch, I guess. It’s real. The lady is still alive. It’s trippy.

I take Chinese herbs and go to a holistic doctor. It’s all the energy and everything. Like palo santo, it’s a tree from Peru. It’s just like a piece of stick and you turn it on and it’s supposed to get rid of all the bad vibes and all this stuff. And it’s real. It’s weird. We have a business in Pomona and my mom always has flowers so if someone walks in there with native negative vibes, boom, they fall right on that flower. Or if some people walk in there and it’s just a bad energy, my mom goes and throws up. I’m telling you the truth, the nitty-gritty on this. It’s real.

Do you believe in an afterlife?

Jesse: Oh gosh, that’s a really hard one. I just live what it is now. I’ve seen it firsthand where people that were evil and mean rot in prison or they get killed in a really gruesome way. I’ve probably had four or five people die in the past year. They tend to live a happy last few weeks or months of their lives. It’s not painful. They go slow. Your last days are going to be really good or really sh***y. You tend to live your own heaven and hell over your last few days. Beyond that I don’t know. I can’t say yes or no, just because I’ve seen where people suffer or they don’t suffer towards the end. It’s been consistent with good people, good endings, bad people, hard struggling endings. I’m just doing as good as I can and if it just ends, it just ends. I live everyday with the mindset of, if I was to die today. I would go knowing I did as much as I could to be happy and make others around me happy and I’d be okay with it.

When my grandpa passed away, my sister was born within a few months. Now my grandma passed away and now my sister’s baby is going to be born within a couple months. People say, “oh yeah, they just get reincarnated,” and I’m like, “I don’t know about that.” But it’s weird. There’s a lot of beliefs out there. For myself, I took this from here and this from there. The afterlife, I don’t know. I’m okay with what I’ve been given and I’ve been working with it.

How do you view the Bible?

Jesse: I see it as a study guide. You’re going to learn the terms. To explain them, you go to church and they talk about them. But that’s one person’s point of view. You’re listening to that person’s point of view. I see it as a study reference guide in a way. If you read a math book, you can’t really just read a math book, you have to do the problems and figure it out, understand the math, understand the questions. Well, you can just read the Bible but unless you experience anything else connected in reference to the Bible and then they reference right back into it, it won’t make sense. I see it as a guide, not so much as a way of life. It’s a guide in reference to your perspective and your point of view. I haven’t delved into the Koran or any other book that interprets different beliefs. Because I’ve been around the Bible, I kind of learned about it. I’ve gone to church, I’ve learned about it, they referenced it, so it’s the guide that I’ve been around.

California Catholic Daily exclusive by Mary Rose.

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