Sacred Journeys with Bruce Feiler

Expand/Collapse Sacred Journeys with Bruce Feiler


Bring concepts in comparative religion and geography to life in this collection of media resources from Sacred Journeys with Bruce Feiler. Follow the author and adventurer as he travels to the sites of six historic pilgrimages: Varanasi, India (Hinduism); the island of Shikoku, Japan (Buddhism); Mecca and Medina in Saudi Arabia (Islam); Jerusalem, Israel (Judaism, Islam, Christianity); Lourdes, France (Christianity); and Osogbo, Nigeria (Yoruba).

The resources align with national standards and invite students to compare and contrast the core beliefs and practices of a variety of world religions. Discover how these religions influence social structures, and learn about multiple cultures against the framework of comparative religion.

  • The Core Tenets of Hinduism

    Discover some of the core tenets of Hinduism as experienced in Varanasi, one of India’s holiest cities, in this video adapted from Sacred Journeys with Bruce Feiler. The Hindu religion is difficult to describe because it does not have a single founder, text, or set of beliefs. Rather, it is characterized by an overlapping set of practices, cultural values, and norms. The main purpose of human life is to get closer to God so that one’s soul can be released from a cycle of human suffering, death, and rebirth and achieve unity with the divine. This resource is part of the Sacred Journeys with Bruce Feiler Collection.

    Grades: 8-12
  • The Evolution of Buddhism in Japan

    Learn how Buddhism, founded in India, evolved to a more populist form in Japan in this video adapted from Sacred Journeys with Bruce Feiler. The monk Kobo Daishi, who studied the Buddhist path to enlightenment in China, brought a new form of the religion, known as Shingon Buddhism, to Japan about 1,200 years ago. While Buddhism in Japan was previously practiced only by the elite, Kobo Daishi’s teachings popularized it, offering everyone the same chance of enlightenment. Buddhism in Japan is infused with the love of nature from Japan’s traditional religion, Shintoism. This resource is part of the Sacred Journeys with Bruce Feiler Collection.

    Grades: 8-12
  • The Hajj: Islamic Sacred Pilgrimage

    Explore the Hajj, the traditional pilgrimage to Mecca, through the experience of present-day American Muslims and learn about the origins of Islam in its birthplace of Medina in this media gallery from Sacred Journeys with Bruce Feiler. According to Muslim tradition, all of the world’s able-bodied believers must make the Hajj at least once in their lives. They strip themselves of worldly possessions and ask God’s forgiveness for their human failings. Pilgrims enter a sacred state of spiritual purity and wear plain garments. Then, inside the city’s Great Mosque, they walk in a circle seven times around the Ka’bah shrine. This resource is part of the Sacred Journeys with Bruce Feiler Collection.

    Grades: 8-12
  • Jerusalem: Sacred and Contentious

    Learn about Jerusalem and its significance in the Jewish, Christian, and Muslim faiths in this media gallery from Sacred Journeys with Bruce Feiler. Throughout history, pilgrims from these three major religions have traveled to Jerusalem. Jewish tradition states that all descendants of Israel should make a pilgrimage to see the temple compound three or more times a year. Christian pilgrims flock to the city where their Bible states that Jesus was crucified, buried, and resurrected. And Muslims visit Jerusalem to fulfill a commandment from the prophet Muhammad. This resource is part of the Sacred Journeys with Bruce Feiler Collection.

    Grades: 8-12
  • Lourdes: Catholic Pilgrimage Site

    Discover how the visions of a teenage girl from Lourdes, France, inspired one of the holiest Catholic pilgrimage sites in this media gallery from Sacred Journeys with Bruce Feiler. Since 1858, when a 14-year-old peasant named Bernadette Soubirous proclaimed she had had 18 encounters with the Virgin Mary, Lourdes has become one of the most visited sites by Catholics in the world. Lourdes has a special appeal for the fragile and the weak, including wounded military personnel. It attracts more than 5 million pilgrims a year, many of whom seek to be cured of afflictions. This resource is part of the Sacred Journeys with Bruce Feiler Collection.

    Grades: 8-12
  • Yoruba Religion of Southwestern Nigeria

    Learn about the Yoruba faith, a religion that is among the world’s ten largest, in this media gallery from Sacred Journeys with Bruce Feiler. Two American women who are to be initiated into the Yoruba faith as priestesses travel to Nigeria to take part in a ceremony that involves prayer, head shaving, animal sacrifice, music, and dance. Historically, the slave trade carried millions of Yoruba men, women, and children to the Americas, where they were forbidden to practice their religion. However, the Yoruba faith was kept alive by slaves who secretly practiced their faith. This resource is part of the Sacred Journeys with Bruce Feiler Collection.

    Grades: 8-12
  • World Religions Map

    Explore religious beliefs around the world through an interactive map produced by WGBH. The interactive opens to show a map that displays the religions that are the most prevalent in each country around the world. You may then click on one of eight religious groupings listed in the menu to examine its relative popularity in each country. The map features brief descriptions of each religious grouping and bar graphs that reflect the percentage of a country’s population associated with each grouping. The religious groupings are (in alphabetical order) Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, indigenous religions, Islam, Judaism, non-religious people, and other religions. This resource is part of the Sacred Journeys with Bruce Feiler Collection.

    Grades: 9-12

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