Tara Burton

Wall Street Journal does religion tourism where multiple faiths co-exist

Wall Street Journal does religion tourism where multiple faiths co-exist

It’s not often that I see a combination of two of my favorite beats: Religion and travel, but a recent story in the Wall Street Journal travel section told of the quickly becoming-famous “Jesus trail” through Galilee that could theoretically be walked in three days.

Tara Burton, the newish religion corresponded for Vox.com, wrote the Journal piece about how she found the 40-mile trail through rural parts of Israel to be welcoming and full of multi-cultural and multi-religious experience. But the comments to the article brought out some other angles: How only in Israel might a Western woman expect to hike unmolested. If Burton tried this in certain others Middle Eastern countries, her experience might have been very different.

First, the article, which, being behind a paywall, will be reproduced here as much as I’m able to cut and paste.

It took five minutes into my pilgrimage for somebody to offer me free food. Leaving my inn, a converted 19th-century mansion in the Israeli town of Nazareth, I’d turned the corner to make the initial ascent toward the Franciscan Mensa Church. The church stands on the site where Christ was said to have dined with his apostles just after his resurrection. A smiling man with a lazy eye, standing by the trail head, decided I should dine, too.
He handed me a chocolate bar, gesturing toward the orange trail markers that demarcated the route. He mimed something approximating “difficult climb,” then also gave me a piece of burma—a sticky, pistachio-studded pastry—the honey staining my fingers. But of course, I had to try this, too. With a combination of hand signals and makeshift Arabic, I tried to convey “delicious,” “thank you” and “please stop: I cannot fit anything else into my bag.”
I spent nearly as much time eating with strangers as walking during my trip earlier this year along the Jesus Trail, a 40-mile trek connecting several major sites of Jesus’ life, from Nazareth to the Sea of Galilee (also called Lake Tiberias). But that was, according to the Jesus Trail’s founders, the point.

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A temple to Oscar Wilde? New Methodist shrine in New York City claims him as a saint

A temple to Oscar Wilde? New Methodist shrine in New York City claims him as a saint

Everyone has almost certainly heard of Oscar Wilde, the witty Victorian-era Irish playwright whose many affairs with other men landed him in a British jail and eventual self-exile in France, where he died in 1900 at the age of 46.

He’s been a hero to some to the point where there’s actually a United Methodist worship space dedicated to him in the symbolic heart of New York City gay culture. Tara Burton, Vox.com’s new religion writer describes it for us.

The key, as you read this feature, is to look for any sign of dissenting voices questioning its big themes. Look for conservative Methodists defending their church's teachings on sexuality, experts on Wilde's final repentance and conversion to Catholicism. That kind of thing.

Hidden in the basement of New York’s Church of the Village, a Methodist church in Greenwich Village, is an entirely unconventional worship space.
The aesthetic -- a neo-Gothic stained glass window, a devotional statue, a series of paintings depicting the life and suffering of a martyr -- is perfectly familiar. The chapel’s advertised uses -- weddings, memorial services, contemplation -- are likewise commonplace. The subject, however, is not.
At the Oscar Wilde Temple, a religiously themed installation project by McDermott & McGough, the art-world tag of artists David McDermott and Peter McGough, the central statue and the figure of worship is of Wilde himself: the 19th-century Anglo-Irish novelist and playwright whose name has become synonymous with LGBTQ liberation.
A series of paintings modeled after the traditional Christian stations of the cross -- representing different moments in Jesus’s trial and crucifixion -- tell the story of Wilde’s 1895 trial for “gross indecency” (i.e., homosexuality) and subsequent two-year imprisonment. In each panel, all of which are modeled after then-contemporary newspaper engravings of the trial, Wilde sports the gilded halo of Christian iconography.

Wilde actually was born and baptized an Anglican, then re-baptized as a Catholic thanks to his mother’s friendship with a Catholic priest.

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