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Wed Jan 23, 2013, 03:01 PM

Find faith on the road without offending


Even if you don't share the faith, being respectful and curious goes a long way

Posted: Tuesday, January 22, 2013 6:22 pm
By Maureen Jenkins Special to CNN

(CNN) -- World-class museums and historic monuments get top priority from many travelers. But for some of us, there's something equally fascinating -- and sometimes much more so -- about visiting houses of worship, even when they represent beliefs that aren't our own.

"But I'm not into organized religion," you might say. You don't have to be religious to appreciate a visit to a place others consider sacred. Even if you're not specifically seeking the religious aspect of worship, there's something special about thoughtfully witnessing and observing someone else's faith in action. So why not get a spiritual boost by checking out houses of worship when you're on the road?

"A lot of the richness in life comes from getting outside your own skin and experiencing the world beyond what you know and understand. If you open yourself up, you can have such experiences," says Stuart M. Matlins, co-editor with Arthur J. Magida of "How to Be a Perfect Stranger: The Essential Religious Etiquette Handbook." The book shares easy-to-understand background on faith traditions ranging from Baptist to Buddhist, Jewish to Jehovah's Witnesses, Seventh-Day Adventists to Sikhs.

"Typically, the way you are received depends on the way you behave," says Matlins, who also is the founder of Jewish Lights Publishing and SkyLight Paths Publishing. He and wife, Antoinette, co-founded a Reform synagogue in Woodstock, Vermont, where Matlins served as lay spiritual leader for 19 years.

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Response to cbayer (Original post)

Wed Jan 23, 2013, 03:05 PM

1. K&R Self:Other-critique as a very effective form of development & discovery.

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Response to patrice (Reply #1)

Wed Jan 23, 2013, 03:09 PM

2. I went to Istanbul last year and although I had been to smaller mosques, I had never been

to the huge ones like the ones there.

One of the first things I heard when I arrived at my hotel was the call to prayers from about 6 different mosques at the same time. It was awe inspiring.

Observing how the people responded at these times (widely variable) was also fascinating. But the mosques themselves were the real highlight.

OTOH, one could not ignore how differently men and women are treated in these buildings.

Anyway, it was a great experience.

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Response to cbayer (Reply #2)

Wed Jan 23, 2013, 03:18 PM

3. I love the immensity of the whole thing (or at least as much of it as I can perceive). Old places

help provide opportunities to just sit with all of that bigness.

Have a good day, cbayer!

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Response to cbayer (Original post)

Thu Jan 24, 2013, 09:20 AM

4. i love great architecture and goth even neogoth is pretty great


there are fewer and fewer 'places with mood' in our sterilized stripmall of a world. i like them all. still i prefer other moods like an old cobblestoned alley on a hill by a river lined by redbrick and stone and steel, leaning and crazy and empty windowed, the smell of dead fish in the chill spring morning air. mmmmm.

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Response to Phillip McCleod (Reply #4)

Thu Jan 24, 2013, 12:33 PM

5. You had me up until the smell of dead fish.

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