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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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Visit sacred places

Photography takes you to peaceful and powerful faith destinations

The old saying “a picture is worth a thousand words” is dramatically true in a book released by National Geographic. Sacred Places of a Lifetime: 500 of the World’s Most Peaceful and Powerful Destinations (2008) is a masterpiece of evocative photography.

Cover of book: Sacred Places of a Lifetime The book is divided into sections such as “Cradles of Faith,” “Majestic Ruins,” “The Pilgrim’s Way,” “Ceremonies and Festivals” and “In Remembrance.” Four-color photos illustrate places and practices from virtually every religious faith. Several locations have Lutheran connections.

“Cradles of Faith” documents key sites for Mormonism (New York), Hinduism (India), Buddhism (Tibet and Nepal), Sikhism (Pakistan), Eastern Orthodoxy (Russia), Western Christianity (the Holy Land), Islam (Saudi Arabia) and others. The illustrations include churches, temples, cathedrals, shrines, monasteries, gardens, caves and a small mound nestled in farmland. Lively verbal descriptions and maps accompany all entries.

Within each section there are sidebars such as “Ten Sacred Texts,” “Ten Sacred Sounds,” “Ten Mosaic Interiors,” “Ten Sacred Spires” and “Ten Stained Glass Windows.” Many of the excellent photos are full page.

Each entry also contains practical information: when and how to visit the sites, climate, hours, difficulty of access, national customs, whether visitor photography is allowed and more.

Most of us will never have the opportunity to travel to these places, although a number are in the U.S. But this is the kind of book that makes us feel as if we are there.

For its size and quality, the volume is modestly priced—under $40 at most sources (bookstores and online).


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