Posts Tagged ‘disrespectful’

Sacred Sites, Peaceful Moments, and…Noisy Tourists?

The candles flickering, the old Italian lady quietly praying, the dark lonely crypt with so much history you can almost feel it, the peaceful sound of a camera loudly “click click clicking” non-stop – wait, where did that come from?!

Don't hesitate to take non-stop noisy photos in quiet places

There is nothing more frustrating than travelling thousands of miles to visit a beautiful, holy site and then have it ruined by tourists stomping about as if they were at McDonald’s. While to some visitors the site may just be a spot with beautiful artwork or a great addition to their photo album, for others it really is a holy site that they want to appreciate it in peace, tranquility, and prayer.

Yet it is amazing to me how many people do not seem to understand this and act as though they are attending a social gathering at a museum or historical society. Because I have spent far too many times amazed at the lack of respect, I created this list of some of the things that really bug me when visiting sacred sites and dealing with irreverent tourists.

The Seven Official Ways

1) Take photos using your flash – do not bother to check if your flash is turned off. Just step up and start shooting with wild lights in the middle of Mass, a quiet church where people are praying, an archeological ruin that someone else is trying to enjoy, etc. They will definitely appreciate the flashing lights and may see it as a sign from Heaven emanating from your welcome camera.

2) Snap some great shots using a noisy camera – you know, one of those cameras that has to make noise every time you take a picture. Then do it over and over and over and over and over and over…and over…without stopping – like Chinese water torture. When people stare at you, just ignore them. Who are they to expect you to be less intrusive about your photos?

3) Hang out and talk in churches or other sacred places – we all know churches are great social halls and not places where anyone would want to spend some personal time in quiet prayer. So mill around and chat for a while. If the person in front of you appears to be praying, act like you did not notice. Talk about the art, talk about what you want to have for lunch, talk about anything but just talk. Oh, and if you have any of those noisy shopping bags, play with them a lot so that they distract everyone around you.

4) Enter chapels designated “for prayer only” – if you do not want to pray, but are really curious to see the chapel, just enter anyways. Walk right in and gape at the ceiling, the walls, the statues. Sit in a pew in the middle of the room and keep writhing in your seat to get the full view. Sure, the other people there are focused and intent on prayer, and can tell you could care less, but you want to see the art darn it!

5) Attend Mass for 5 minutes just so you can see the church and then leave – if Mass is being said, but you really want to see the church, take a seat in one of the pews and linger for a few minutes. Then get up and leave when you are done. Sure you are distracting, and completely irreverent, but who cares?

6) Talk on your cell phone – of course the call cannot wait until you can step outside. So just take it there in public. It is your right!

7) Complain about the money that was spent on building such sites really loudly or make fun of religious customs you do not understand – forget the fact that thousands of unknown souls may have found solace, hope, and healing in such a place and through such a faith. You don’t like it and you travelled all the way around the world just to see it, so you could complain about it some more! Really, it is a very rational move and the money you could have given to the poor that you spent on your airline ticket, well, who would ever expect you to carry the burdens you lay on the shoulders of others?

Ruined Moments

These are just some of the things that have attempted to ruin some very sacred moments for me when visiting holy sites. It seems that in our modern world, people tend to view churches and holy places as relics from the past, a sort of living museum, but forget that others still see it as a very sacred place indeed.

So now that I have vented, what are your pet peeves and aggravations when visiting holy sites or traveling? Let me know, I would love to hear!


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