Wednesday, June 23, 2004

Review: Joining Hearts and Hands

Joining Hands and Hearts: Interfaith, Intercultural Wedding Celebrations
by Rev. Susanna Stefachi Macomb
Fireside (Simon & Schuster), 2003; $22.00
ISBN 0743436989

This book was an absolute delight to read and explore. Written from an interfaith perspective, Joining Hands and Hearts explores the religious, spiritual, cultural and personal aspects of marriage. It then takes you through some of the practical matters of the creating and planning a ceremony, including working with family and friends.

Next comes the part of the book I liked the most. Well over half of Joining Hands and Hearts is devoted to exploring various marriage rituals and wedding traditions across world religions and cultures. If you are interested in world religion and customs, then this book is worth buying for this information alone, regardless of whether you are planning a handfasting or wedding. If you are in the process of planning an eclectic or multifaith ceremony, then this book is a real gem and a great starting place for ideas and inspiration.

To help put the customs in context before they are presented, a brief yet informative description of the history and beliefs preceeds each section on the 14 religions covered. The cultural information is more general and does not provide as much context, but is just as interesting nonetheless. Wedding traditions that occur in some form across many religions or cultures are also discussed, and handfasting is included in this category. However, Neo-Paganism is not specifically addressed. Also included are selected readings and vows ranging from traditional religious ones to the words of modern poets, authors and philosophers on matters of the heart. All in all an excellent book.

© 2004. This review originally appeared in the Midsummer 2004 issue of WynterGreene.

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