Religion as a Window on Culture

Religion as a Window on Culture presents concepts common to most faith traditions, affording the user a glimpse into many different religious practices. The concepts are sacred space, sacred ritual, sacred time, sacred memory, sacred texts, and sacred journey. Each concept or theme is addressed in a section of the curriculum. In this way, users gain a greater understanding and appreciation for other faith traditions. Furthermore, seeing what is done in other religions may help the user to better understand their own traditions.

Suggested Use

The leader’s guide companion to the video series, Religion as a Window on Culture, is designed for use in a congregational setting.


Religion as a Window on Culture is a six-part video series that was filmed in Indianapolis with the cooperation of over 60 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.

Sacred Space

This chapter serves as an introduction to the video series and its main themes. It also begins to address sacred space, and how houses of worship express the values of the people who worship there. The series begins with space and specifically with traditional houses of worship because people easily recognize churches, synagogues, and mosques as sacred in their communities.

Sacred Rituals, Sacred Spaces

This chapter demonstrates how people of different religious faiths go about designating space as sacred. How does space become designated as sacred? How do the use of symbol, ritural and ceremony define what is sacred? Both traditional and non-traditional sacred spaces are depicted.

Sacred Time

Sacred Time examines those periods religions set apart from the everyday practices of life. Specific times of the day, the week, or the year may be designated as sacred, including times when people gather to worship together. What is the difference between sacred tiem and secular or

Sacred Memory

Sacred memory often is expressed in the form of ritual. This chapter explores the rituals and celebrations used to commemorate sacred memory.

Sacred Texts and Stories

Sacred memory takes form in stories and texts. Christians revere the Bible, Jews the Torah, Muslims the Koran. Rituals may also convey stories sacred to the tradition. This chapter examines the ways that people of faith keep traditions alive, connect the past to the present, and preserve their religion for future generations.

Sacred Journey and Conclusion

Pilgrimage can have either a specific or a more general meaning. A journey may be a physical pilgrimage leading to a particular holy place—as in the Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca. Or it can be an overall journey, either outward or inward, in search of the fullest meaning of one’s religious beliefs.