Monday, August 13, 2018

Sacred Places x 2

The picture books below are unusual for PBT. Typically, I connect secular books to scriptures or spiritual ideas derived from texts in the Old or New Testaments. The books below are about sacred places in a variety of religious contexts. They are both beautiful and informative and therefore worth exploring for possible applications in ministry settings and classrooms where various religions can be freely discussed.
Picture Book: Sacred Places
Author: Jane Yolen
Illustrator: David Shannon
Summary: Fortunately, this book begins with a simple map of the world for locating each of the 12 religious sites (some ancient, some both ancient and still in use). 
Additionally, you'll find an introductory painting and poem that introduces the idea of a sacred place. A similar poem ends the book. 
What follows is a series of groups of 3: a painting of a sacred site/practice, a poem, and a symbol specific to that religion. Here are some of my favorite paintings: The Wailing Wall in Jerusalem, 
Stonehenge,  
Ganga (Ganges River) in India, 
a representative image for all cathedrals, 
and Four Corners in the United States
Hanna’s Comments: If you’re not interested in the poetry aligned with each illustration, that’s fine. Here the images are what’s provocative. Make sure your audience can see the illustrations easily. For a richer learning experience, consider pairing some images with photographs that may be easily accessed on the internet. An appendix gives a nice summary for each sacred place. 
Original Publisher & Date: Harcourt, 1996
Age & Grade Appropriateness: 8 and up, 3rd and up
Formats other than Book: None at present
Scripture Connections: You’ll find 1 image of The Wailing Wall and 1 image for Christian cathedrals (both above).
Idea(s) for Application: Read this book to a group of adults in a small group and explore their understanding of what defines a sacred versus a secular place. Be sure to encourage them to share their own experiences with these and other sacred places.

Picture Book: Sacred Places
Author: Philemon Sturges
Illustrator: Giles Laroche
Summary: A Note to the Reader begins this book. It lists 3 questions people throughout history have asked:
Where did I come from?
How should I live my life?
What happens to me when I die?
You'll find cut-paper illustrations of 28 places inspired by the faith of 5 of the world’s most prevalent religions (3 from the Abrahamic tradition, Hinduism, and Buddhism). There's a caption that gives dates and explains specific religious practices for each site. Additionally, there is larger text for reading aloud. The cover image above is of  Shore Temple in India. The image below is of Chartres Cathedral in France. 
My favorites illustrations? Great Mosque (Niger), 
The Abbey of Mont Saint-Michel (France), 
Sokkuram Grotto Shrine (Korea),
the Kaaba (Saudi Arabia), 
and Concord Baptist Church (United States).
Hanna’s Comments: These images are busier and less ethereal, but the variety of places is nice. Unfortunately, sacred sites on the continents of South America and Australia are not included. I love the ending that says, “some sacred places aren’t made by people at all.” 
It closes with a map and legend to mark all 28 sites.
Original Publisher & Date: Putnam & Sons, 2000
Age & Grade Appropriateness: 6 and up, 1st and up
Formats other than Book: None at present
Scripture Connections: You’ll find several sites inspired by the Old or New Testaments.
Idea(s) for Application: Read this book to explore the spiritual practice of pilgrimage, the Celtic concept of thin places, and/or the questions, “What makes a place sacred?” and “When have you felt a sense of awe because of a place?" Be sure to allow time for personal storytelling.