The following is an excerpt from World Religions, by Thomas Robinson and Hillary Rodrigues.
In a time not so long ago, neighbors were those who shared assumptions and goals. Backgrounds were similar; moral sensibilities were largely the same. Neighbors met not only over their backyard fences but also in the same social and religious establishments.
This is no longer true. Movements of people often have made neighborhoods more diverse than uniform, reflecting the varied nature of the global village. New neighbors bring with them their cultures and religious sensibilities. To understand neighbors in the modern neighborhood, some sense of how they think and what they value is essential.
The frequency, speed, and ease of travel also have helped to bring diverse perspectives together. Travelers to foreign lands usually will acquaint themselves with a map so that unfamiliar geography becomes familiar. They often will refer to a phrase book so that they can communicate somewhat in the local language. They routinely will consult a guidebook to become familiar with the local culture and points of interest.
For most cultures, religion will be a prominent part of a tourist’s experience of a foreign country. The architecture, literature, and the arts of national and ethnic groups have often been inspired by religion. Religious sites likely will make up a large part of the tourist’s must-see places. Further, social taboos and behaviors, by which a culture is most commonly recognized, often are rooted in religious sensibilities.
It is important to recognize that people live in their minds as much as they live in their markets and alleys. We would rarely venture into a foreign country without a map of the road system. If we visit a foreign country without learning something of the religious dimensions of its people, we will be traveling without an adequate mental map of the people we encounter.
©2014 by Thomas A. Robinson and Hillary P. Rodrigues. Published by Baker Academic. Unauthorized use of this material without express written permission is strictly prohibited.
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