Recognizing the Similarities

Recognizing the Similarities

We were in Rome the night new Pope was announced. March 14, 2013. On a crowded bus, traffic jammed and horns honking, we were told by an excited Italian man that the unidentified Pope was about to appear on the balcony. He and packs of others were rushing to Vatican square in hopes of a glimpse.

You could feel the excitement in the air.

It didn’t matter that it was cold and raining, people crowded into the square to pray and celebrate and listen to the words of the new Pope.

It was a great night to be in Rome.

The city and its enormous religious monuments got me thinking about the many sacred buildings we have seen in various countries over the last four months. We have visited Hindu and Buddhist Temples, Pagodas, Mosques, Synagogues, Churches and Basilicas. We have seen elaborate murals and decorations and also simple carvings and primitive altars.

Seeing the variety of religious buildings in such a close time frame to each other has prompted some quality family discussions. We have discussed the similarities and differences between the buildings and religions.

For example, I’ve noticed five common threads between the organized religions we have encountered.

Friendly disclaimer: These are just observations, not a religious position, nor an agenda. 🙂

The five similarities of followers of organized religions, as I see them:

1. The shared belief that there is something greater than themselves.

The “something greater” has created them, watches over them, helps them in times of need, and/or provides enlightenment and guidance. It is a spirit, a person, a diety, and/or an icon that they strive to be like.

2. The desire to communicate with the “something greater.”

The followers have an innate need and desire to express their love, gratitude, respect and honor to their deity. They provide offerings of all types: prayers, candles, fruit, flowers, time, devotion, service, celebrations, rituals and sacrifice. These offerings are also used to ask for help and protection and guidance.

3. An inclination to build buildings.

Organized religions usually have a common place for their followers to gather. These buildings can be designed for services, individual prayer and reflection, sacrifices, celebrations, and safety. It is also a place for followers to interact and build their community as they support each other in life. They also often house caretakers and/or leaders.

4. A set of guidelines or rules to live by.

All the organized religions we encountered were guided by a specific ideology, set of rules of behavior, history, and values. They are used to govern lifestyle and worship.

5. They use storytelling to pass along their message and values.

Each religion uses some sort of storytelling technique to pass on their beliefs and history to others. They are communicated through things like stone carvings, murals, writings, songs, memorials, and oral teachings.

Rich experiences, all, and each one strengthened us in some way. Here are some of our favorite sacred site photos.


2016-10-24T09:46:05+00:00Family, Travel|8 Comments


  1. Roger March 20, 2013 at 9:48 am - Reply

    Always love the photos that accompany the blog-thanks

  2. Dora March 20, 2013 at 11:35 am - Reply

    Amazing how you can feel the energy as something palpable when big events are afoot. Traveling to London on April 2 enroute to Russia. Maybe we can meet there? Hahaha….

    • Jody Temple White March 20, 2013 at 11:50 am - Reply

      Hey, we will be in London on the 2nd. How long will you be there? Where are you going in Russia and why? Business or pleasure?

  3. merril March 20, 2013 at 7:48 pm - Reply

    Thanks for the pics, the info.. we will be going to both Temples in Indonesia next month.. I am very excited to have that opportunity. Some of my friends that are going to Bali also went to the Vatican in Rome on our trip in Oct! I so enjoyed reading about your similarities. I also went to a beautiful Synogogue in Rhodes, Greece!! and in Ephisis we went to the home of Mother Mary. In Santorini i found the Churches to be moving my spirit as the centuries of women who must have prayed at those alters fpr a safe return of their husbands, as they fished in their boats through many storms. I was fascintated by the many pictures of Mary and Baby Jesus, from various racial backgrounds shown in the skin color and the shape of their eyes. Thanks again for your sharing the pictures and your thoughts.. both ar eso appreciated and enjoyed by me!! I am always grateful and in awe of your adventutres!!

    • Jody Temple White March 20, 2013 at 10:35 pm - Reply

      Thanks Merril. Enjoy Bali. There are plenty of temples to see. While the big ones are great, we liked the ones that were out of the way and a little hidden. They usually had a lot less traffic.

  4. lena March 21, 2013 at 11:07 am - Reply

    Wonderful to read that you are all well.
    Excited for you that you were in Rome on such a wonderful, excited, memorable day.
    I smiled as I read your journal input. I am on a fabulous walk with God and what you saw and expressed are all true. When you have a close relationship with Christ you are different, you do live differently and your core values are different. You want to please God everyday and give Him thanks and praise in both good and bad times.
    I pray that as you enjoy every day on your trip that God will stand out for you and your family – in every leaf, every tree, every animal and insect, every cloud, every sun ray and especially in every person that comes your way. Look into the eyes of your family and see the love of God pouring out from them.
    Give thanks
    Hugs and love to you all
    Missing your smiles and enjoying your travels,

  5. jack shorr March 22, 2013 at 9:33 am - Reply

    Jody, Your recent comments reminds me of the Sociology of Religion class I took in college updated and personalized. You emphasized their commonalities and how religions are important to our culture. Thanks for these insightful observations at a time when differences are often emphasized.

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