How To Be a Perfect Stranger

Posted on December 23, 2014. Filed under: Nonfiction | Tags: , |

book cover for How To Be a Perfect StrangerHow To Be a Perfect Stranger: The Essential Religious Etiquette Handbook
edited by Stuart M. Matlins & Arthur J. Magida

“We North Americans live in a remarkably diverse society, and it’s increasingly common to be invited to a wedding, funeral, or other religious service of a friend, relative, or coworker whose faith is different from our own. These can be awkward situations . . . What will happen? What do I do? What do I wear? What do I say? What should I avoid doing, wearing, saying? Is it okay to use a video camera? How long will it last? What are their basic beliefs? Will there be a reception? Will there be food? Should I bring a gift? When is it okay to leave? These are just a few of the basic questions answered in How to Be a Perfect Stranger. This easy-to-read guidebook, with an ‘Everything you need to know before you go’ checklist, helps the well-meaning guest to feel comfortable, participate to the fullest extent possible and avoid violating anyone’s religious principles—while enriching their own spiritual understanding” (descriptive content provided by Syndetics).

This has always been one of my favorite reference books. I have a diversity of friends and coworkers who are from different religious backgrounds, and have referred often to this book before attending a friend’s wedding, funeral, etc. to make sure that I am dressed appropriately, give the proper acknowledgements and/or gifts, know what is expected of me during the ceremony, and know how to act in a way that is respectful and proper. I also appreciate that this book lists the major holy days and festivals of each religion. This is a great book to refer to whenever such a situation arises. The current edition is available to peruse in Oakton’s reference collection, and the previous edition is available for check out.

-posted by Gretchen Schneider

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