THE SPIRITUAL TRAVELER: Boston and New England: A Guide to Sacred Sites and Peaceful Places

Jana Riess, Author . Hidden Spring $22 (400p) ISBN 978-1-58768-008-3

Part history and part travel guide, this book provides a fascinating look at both past and present as it describes churches, synagogues and other religious sites throughout New England. Beginning with an overview of the various religions and their sanctuaries, Riess, PW's religion book review editor, describes various houses of worship and their unique features. For example, the shape of a church is related to the congregation's beliefs; a round church was a place where Christians of various denominations would be welcome. In addition to the churches for which New England is best known, Riess also includes synagogues such as Newport's Touro Synagogue, as well as Buddhist, Russian Orthodox and other temples. In addition to standard travel guide fare such as hours, location and nearby attractions, there are "focus boxes" that offer interesting definitions or information. Riess's writing is always direct and particularly vibrant when she's offering a historical perspective—perhaps not surprising since she holds a doctorate in American religious history. She explains the origins of Thanksgiving: "...it's not quite the case that Thanksgiving immediately sprang into fame as a new American holiday.... In the late eighteenth century, George Washington tried to institute Thanksgiving as a late-November holiday, but Thomas Jefferson thought this smacked of 'kingly' arrogance and abolished the official practice when he became president." Anyone with spiritual interests who lives in or plans to visit New England will benefit from this smart and useful book. (Oct.)

Reviewed on: 09/09/2002
Release date: 06/01/2002
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