Religion as a Window on Culture has been awarded a prestigious 1999 Telly
Particular religious practices express the deepest beliefs, traditions, and values of particular communities. In this
way, they serve as a "window" on culture. At the same time, the religious impulse is universal, and nearly all
religions share elements in common.
Religion as a Window on Culture is a six-part video series that focuses on four major themes important important
to various religions: Sacred Space, Sacred Time, Sacred Memory and Sacred Journey. Examining these
concepts allows us to explore the similarities among religions that we often perceive as different. Click here for a video introduction to these common religious themes.
Indianapolis, the location for the series, is representative of cities in the Unites States in many respects, including its
variety of religious practice. Seemingly homogeneous, Indianapolis is actually home to a rich diversity of religious
faiths. This video series identifies some universal elements among different faith communities in Indianapolis. By
learning more about the religions of those around us, we may better understand and appreciate how the culture of a
city is composed of related, yet distinct elements. Click here for a video introduction to the film series.
The videos portray houses of worship (Click here for video clip), religious rituals and services, public observances, and moments of private
devotion (Click here for video clip). Religious leaders and scholars discuss the four themes as they relate to various faith traditions. Persons
Martin E. Marty, Ph.D., Fairfax M. Cone Distinguished Service Professor, University of Chicago Divinity
School and recipient of the National Humanities Medal
Rabbi Sandy E. Sasso, Congregation Beth-El Zedeck
Sayyid Syeed, Ph.D., Secretary General, Islamic Society of North America
The Rev. E.. Anne Henning Byfield, Senior Pastor, Robinson Community African Methodist Episcopal Church
James J. Divita, Ph.D., Professor of History, Marian College
This series is well-suited for a variety of education uses, including the study of humanities topics in high schools,
introduction to religious studies in university settings and adult and youth discussion groups in congregations.
EPISODE I: INTRODUCTION AND SACRED SPACE (20 minutes)
Introduces the concept of Religion as a Window on Culture, and the main themes. This episode also
begins to address Sacred Space, and how houses of worship express the values of the people who use
EPISODE II: SACRED RITUALS, SACRED SPACES (17 minutes)
Looks at different kinds of Sacred Space, from buildings to outdoor areas. How does space become
designated as sacred? How do the use of symbol, ritual, and ceremony define what is sacred? This
segment depicts traditional and non-traditional sacred spaces.
EPISODE III: SACRED TIME (20 minutes)
Sacred Time examines those periods religions set apart from the everyday practices of life. Specific
times of the day, the week, or the year may be designated as sacred, including times when people
gather to worship together. The segment includes rites such as bar mitzvah, baptism, and weddings.
EPISODE IV: SACRED MEMORY (19 minutes)
Sacred Memory often is expressed in the form of ritual. This video explores the rituals and
celebrations used to commemorate sacred memory.
EPISODE V: SACRED TEXTS AND STORIES (21 minutes)
Sacred Memory usually takes form in stories and texts. Christians revere the Bible, Jews the Torah,
Muslims the Koran. Rituals may also convey stories sacred to the tradition. This video shows the
different ways that people of faith keep traditions alive, connect the past to the present, and preserve
the religion for future generations (Click here for video clip).
EPISODE VI: SACRED JOURNEY AND CONCLUSION (22 minutes)
Sacred Journey examines the ancient practice of pilgrimage, encouraged or even required by many
religions. All able Muslims must go to Mecca at least once during their lifetime. Both Jews and
Christians are drawn to Jerusalem. Catholics visit Rome and shrines where miracles have taken place.
Mormons journey to Salt Lake City.
The series was produced by The Polis Center in association with Nineteenth Star, creators of documentary programming that has aired nationally on The Learning Channel, Odyssey, and PBS.
Closed Captioned for the Hearing-Impaired
Religion as a Window on Culture is funded by a grant from Lilly Endowment Inc.
The Polis Center reserves the right to distribute the video
Religious congregations throughout the United States, and
Educational institutions located within the Indianapolis metropolitan area (Boone,
Hamilton, Hancock, Hendricks, Johnson, Madison, Marion, Morgan and Shelby
Organizations within these two categories should contact The Polis Center for special
price information. All other audiences are to order through the exclusive national
Films for the Humanities and Sciences®
P.O. Box 2053
Princeton, NJ 08543
The Polis Center at IUPUI
Cavanaugh Hall 301
425 University Boulevard
Indianapolis, IN 46202-5140
FAX (317) 278-1830