Tag: Spiritual Travel

How Air Travel is Bringing Back God

Roger Cohen has a half-baked theory:

I’ve noticed God is making a comeback. It’s not just all the craziness in the Middle East. Soccer players now look to the heavens when they score goals. Come on! A touchdown prompts skyward glances. This didn’t used to happen. It would have been considered loony. My theory is it must have something to do with air travel. Survivors of it feel compelled to search out a savior.


Photo You Must See: One Amazing Puddle in St. Petersburg

Photo You Must See: One Amazing Puddle in St. Petersburg REUTERS/Alexander Demianchuk

St. Petersburg's Church of the Savior on the Spilled Blood is reflected in a puddle on the street

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Photo You Must See: The Sadhu’s Hand

Photo You Must See: The Sadhu’s Hand REUTERS/Reinhard Krause

A Sadhu, or Hindu holy man, sits near the banks of the Ganges.His followers say he has not moved his arm or cut his fingernails for 32 years.

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Photo You Must See: Balloons Over Bagan, Myanmar

Photo You Must See: Balloons Over Bagan, Myanmar REUTERS/Soe Zeya Tun

Hot air balloons drift over the temples of Bagan, the ancient capital city of Myanmar.

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Labor Day (Japanese Style)

On an ethereal November day in Kyoto

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Photo You Must See: On the Mosque’s Threshold

Photo You Must See: On the Mosque’s Threshold REUTERS/Beawiharta Beawiharta
REUTERS/Beawiharta Beawiharta

A child steps inside a brightly lit mosque in Pelalawan, Indonesia.


Photo You Must See: Obeisance at the Golden Temple

Photo You Must See: Obeisance at the Golden Temple Photo by Koshyk via Flickr (Creative Commons)
Photo by Koshyk via Flickr (Creative Commons)

A devotee prays at Amritsar’s Golden Temple, the holiest site in Sikhism


NYC: 30 Mosques in 30 Days

First came the Ramadan world tour, and now the Ramadan tour of New York. Two Muslim New Yorkers are just wrapping up a very cool project—visiting 30 mosques in the five boroughs over the 30 days of the holy month. They’ve been blogging as they go, and the result is a fascinatingly complex picture of the city’s modern Muslim community.

Here’s a quick sample from day twenty-seven in Astoria: “I looked around and saw people from all over the world coming in cracking jokes among one another. A litmus test I use to see if a mosque is serving the needs of a community, is checking to see if people are smiling.” (Via Ta-Nehisi Coates)


Slate Takes a Ramadan World Tour

Slate Takes a Ramadan World Tour Photo by tinou bao via Flickr (Creative Commons)
Photo by tinou bao via Flickr (Creative Commons)

Writer Jason Rezaian has spent time in five different Muslim-majority countries—Morocco, Saudi Arabia, Dubai, Iran and Turkey—during the annual month of fasting, and in a short essay he reflects on the subtle (and not-so-subtle) differences in the ways each one celebrates their shared holy month.


Photo We Love: Two Faiths, One Prayer

Dalai Lama REUTERS/Pichi Chuang
REUTERS/Pichi Chuang

The Dalai Lama listens to his interpreter as Cardinal Paul Shan Kuo-hsi of Taiwan’s Catholic church says a prayer during a religious dialogue in Kaohsiung, Taiwan.


‘Eat, Pray, Love in the USA’

Over at Matador Trips, Beebe Bahrami offers her top picks for culinary, spiritual and romantic America, with everywhere from the French Quarter to the Black Hills represented. It’s the latest in an “Eat, Pray, Love” themed series.


Even Mecca Getting Hit by Recession

Bookings from pilgrims are “way down” in the Muslim holy city, according to Reuters. Local hoteliers also blame the swine flu panic alongside the global economic crisis.


Interview with David Farley: ‘An Irreverent Curiosity’

The World Hum contributor's new book illuminates a bizarre mystery in an Italian village. Jim Benning learns more.

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Climbing Ban Could be Coming to Uluru

Climbing Ban Could be Coming to Uluru Photo by nosha via Flickr (Creative Commons)
Photo by nosha via Flickr (Creative Commons)

An Australian government proposal is in the works to ban tourists from climbing Uluru, the distinctive red rock monolith that is considered sacred ground by local indigenous groups. Those same groups have been pushing for the move for years, but the proposal is—predictably—controversial in other quarters: “Big Brother is coming to Uluru to slam the gate closed on an Australian tourism icon,” said one conservative politician quoted in the Independent.

Invoking Orwell here seems a tad dramatic. I’m more inclined to agree with local elder Vince Forrester. “You can’t go climb on top of the Vatican, you can’t go climb on top of the Buddhist temples and so on and so forth,” he said. “Obviously you have to respect our religious attachment to the land too, so we’re saying please do not climb Uluru.”


Lantern Floating for Memorial Day

Lantern Floating for Memorial Day Photo by mujitra via Flickr (Creative Commons).
Photo by mujitra via Flickr (Creative Commons).

If the pictures are anything to go by, the Memorial Day Lantern Floating ceremony at Ala Moana Beach Park in Honolulu was the kind of visual feast that makes you think you’re in a dream.

2,000 candlelit lanterns are sent off into the ocean at sunset, each bearing “healing prayers for victims of conflict, famine, disaster and disease as well as our hopes for the happiness of all past and present.”

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Yangon, Myanmar

Yangon, Myanmar REUTERS/Soe Zeya Tun

Devotees crowd the Shwedagon Pagoda during the Kason watering festival in Yangon, Myanmar (Burma)

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Jizo, Protector of Travelers and Children

Jizo Shrine Photo by Pam Mandel
Photo by Pam Mandel

On my latest trip to Hawaii, I left my lei draped on the Jizo statue at a little shrine on a bluff between Hanauma Bay and Sandy Beach—to get there, you have to park at the Halona Blowhole viewpoint and walk back along the Kalanianaole Highway.  Last time we were there, a ceremony was taking place and we didn’t want to interrupt—a group of 20 or so people stood in front of the statue chanting in Japanese, their prayers blown away on the brisk wind.

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Magelang, Indonesia

Magelang, Indonesia REUTERS/Dwi Oblo

Indonesian Buddhist monks collect holy water ahead of a Vesak Day procession in Magelang, central Java. Vesak Day honors the birth, enlightenment and death of Buddha more than 2,000 years ago.

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The Altered States of Sedona

The Altered States of Sedona iStockPhoto

Laurie Gough looks Arizona's New Age mecca in the vortexes and says, "Sacred energy of the Earth, come and get me."

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Chongqing Municipality, China

Chongqing Municipality, China REUTERS/Stringer

A worker carries a statue of a saint who has achieved nirvana, also known as an Arhat, for painting at the Arhat Temple in Chongqing Municipality.

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