For an atheist I seem to have been to quite a few places of worship in my time.Â There are the normal family weddings in anglican churches, the christening of a catholic friend’ s child and so on, but also a sikh friend at work always encourages us to visit his temple for major events.Â When I was a councillor I was invited to various religious places and events and to interfaith meetings.
Remembering how awkward it can feel to go into some of these places for the first time I jumped at the chance to get hold of a book called Do I Kneel or Do I Bow? through Amazon’s Vine programme.Â I remember that the members’ lounge at Crawley town hall had a small library of reference books: if it doesn’t include a copy of this book then it should. Here is a short review of the book:
I wish I had a copy of this book to hand the first time I went to a mosque, a gurdwara or a hindu temple!
These days you don’t have to be religious to find yourself inside a church, synagogue or temple of some sort, as more of us find ourselves making friends of differing beliefs and getting invited to weddings or other celebrations. When that happens this book tells you all you need to know to avoid making an idiot of yourself.
The book covers eight major religions and is written in a way that does not assume any previous knowledge of any of them: it is not written just as a guide for christians to understand other religions, but is equally applicable to Sikhs invited to a catholic wedding or a muslim going to a protestant christening.
Each section gives a very high level overview of a particular religion’s beliefs, some details of the main festivals or celebrations, and information about behaviour in the relevent places of worship and what is expected of visitors.
It could be read straight through as a sort of beginners’ guide to religion as the chapters do give a decent, but brief, introductory description, but it is better suited to being a reference book to be pulled out when needed.
I have not read the book all the way through, but I sampled the chapter on Sikhism, having visited the local gurdwara a few times in the last couple of years. Everything in there about behaviour and what happens during ceremonies was accurate as far as my experience goes so I am assuming the other sections provide similarly practical advice and information.
I’m now looking forward to getting invited to a jewish or buddhist event so I can try out some of the other chapters.