EXPLAIN THE PURPOSE OF
THE STUDY SERIES TO YOUR GROUP
(15 minutes)(Read or paraphrase)
Religious practices express a people’s deepest beliefs, traditions, and
values. In this way, they serve as a “window” on culture.
Religion as a Window on Culture
is a six-part video series that was filmed in Indianapolis with the cooperation
of over sixty congregations and organizations. Seemingly homogenous, Indianapolis
is actually home to a rich diversity of religious faiths, and is representative
of cities across the United States.
While there is certainly considerable diversity among (and within) religious
faiths, there are also striking similarities. This series will focus
on concepts that are important to most religions, and about which
many religions have similar ideas. These concepts are sacred space, sacred
ritual, sacred time, sacred memory, sacred
texts, and sacred journey.
As you examine these concepts, you can compare and contrast your
faith tradition with others. Not only will this help you to develop a greater
understanding of different religions, but it will also help you to
identify your own place in the religious landscape. By learning more about
the religions of those around you, you may better understand your
own traditions through comparison, and appreciate how the culture
of a city is composed of related, yet distinct elements.
Dr. Martin E. Marty, Fairfax M. Cone Distinguished Service Professor
at the University of Chicago Divinity School and one of the most sought after
spokespersons on religious life in America, provides commentary that
serves as the framework for each session and the series as a whole. Other on-camera
interviews include Rabbi Sandy E. Sasso, Congregation Beth-El Zedeck, Dr.
Sayyid M. Syeed, secretary general, Islamic Society of North
America (Plainfield, Indiana), Dr. James J. Divita, professor
of history, Marian College, and Rev. E. Anne Henning Byfield, Robinson
Community AME Church.
While the video has attempted to be as inclusive as possible in the representation
of diverse faith traditions in each episode, some practices lend themselves
to a greater or lesser degree to each concept in the series. At times, cultural
or religious beliefs restricted access to certain events. Also, the
need to edit videotape to six episodes of approximately twenty minutes each
limited the selection of materials to be shown.
Keep in mind that spirituality and belief cannot be captured on videotape.
This series and leader’s guide is intended as a tool to promote thoughtful group
discussion of topics as well as to generate inward personal reflection. Use
the discussion questions and exercises provided, but also allow time
for the process of considering the information presented in both the video and
Explain to the group the way in which the series will be
used. It might be helpful to prepare a calendar of activities for the group.