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How to Be a Perfect Stranger: The Essential Religious Etiquette Handbook

Have you been invited to an unfamiliar religious service or ceremony and are unsure about what to do?  Don’t want to offend anyone or appear awkward?

The updated and revised 5th edition of How to Be a Perfect Stranger: the Essential Religious Etiquette Handbook (2010) edited by Stuart Matlins and Arthur J. Magida will guide you.

As the foreword notes “in the United States about 92 percent of our citizens profess a belief in God, and the nation continues to reflect one of the highest rates of religious affiliation among industrialized countries.” This pluralism can be a real challenge to even the most religiously aware among us.
Each chapter is devoted (no pun intended) to a different religion or faith. A brief summary of the history and beliefs of the religion is followed by contact information and statistics on membership in the U.S.

There is a summary of the basic service along with general guidelines, appropriate attire, and guest behavior as well as any special vocabulary. Holy Days, Festivals and Life Cycle Events (Birth, Initiation, Marriage, Funeral/Mourning ceremonies) are fully described. The question and answer format lends itself to quick and easy to understand information.

The “Everything You Need to Know Before You Go” checklist is not only helpful but an essential guide:

How should I be dressed?
What will happen during the service?
What will happen after the service?
Should I bring a gift?
Will I be expected to participate in any way?

An apt summary: “The things Miss Manners forgot to tell us about religion.” (Los Angeles Times)

Winner of the Benjamin Franklin “Best Reference Book of the Year” award, the library has both a circulating and Reference copy. Find it on the NEW nonfiction shelf at Call # 203.8 HOW

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