Published on Friday, August 20, 1999 1999 Madison Newspapers, Inc. Used with permission

Byline: John-Brian Paprock

At least one in five in the Madison area is not Christian. We are working in the same offices, walking the same streets and shopping at the same stores. Madisonians of diverse beliefs are in daily contact.

Mostly, this is an easygoing style of interaction. It doesn't require much in the way of preparation. However, if one is asked to a wedding, a holiday ceremony, dinner at the folks' home or a funeral, what then?

Here are some ideas:

v    Don't be afraid to ask questions about the ceremony and how to be respectful.

v    Long before the ceremony, ask about gift giving, photography, dress and whether children are taking part.

v    Save questions that come up during the ceremony until afterwards.

v    Look up the ceremony and the particular religious tradition in the library, but remember that ceremonies are adapted regularly to the circumstances and can vary from group to group within a tradition.

v    Try to avoid an ``anthropologist'' mentality -- be a guest.

v    Join an interfaith dialogue or start one in church, but don't expect large turnouts.

v    Remember, ethnic immigrant families are uncomfortable with American customs, too.



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