What in God’s name is church-hopping and why you should get in on the action?

The spiritually-buzzing landscape of Granada, Nicaragua

“I love you when you bow in your mosque, kneel in your temple, pray in your church. For you and I are sons of one religion, and it is the spirit.” Khalil Gibran

Have you rolled out of bed after a night of bar-hopping to a merciless hangover? Yes, a head-throbbing headache, vomit, unquenching thirst and not knowing where the hell you are or what happened the night before?

 

Now, can you imagine a morning filled with strength, hope, peace and enlightenment?

You’re kidding right?

No, my friend, I’m talking about church-hopping and no better place to have discovered this activity than the colonial, spiritual city of Granada.

The city of Granada, Nicaragua stands out for it’s colonial architecture, historical heritage and yes, beautiful churches! I’ve found this to be an extremely spiritual city as well.

Not only is the landscape filled with sacred churches, (I walk past exactly 5 each day to Spanish class) but the people here emit a kind of spiritual vibrancy.

What’s a church-hopper?

If you hopped bars on a Saturday night, you’re a bar-hopper, but what if you hop through churches instead?

I’m going to call you a church hopper if you frequent churches, temples, and places of worship like you do your favorite watering hole.

Church hoppers maybe religious-junkies, spirituality-addicts or you’re probably thinking, lost souls who are going to spend their afterlife in a very hot place.

I would classify church-hoppers as people who frequent religious establishments as a religious or spiritual practice. People who realize that God’s everywhere and no religion has a monopoly on God; that God can be found in all places of worship.

Why church hop?

Having grown up in a Hindu household, I now do religion like you do all-you-can-eat buffets. Hinduism teaches us that there’s only one truth (or God) (or entree as the case may be) but many paths (religious or spiritual practices) to help get us there.

Since there are no Hindu temples here, I have no problem visiting and worshiping in some of the sacred churches of Granada.

In fact, I drop into one or two a day for a little prayer, reflection and meditation. A brief visit to one of the area church’s can give you a little boost of energy for the day, peace of mind and awareness. A little prayer in life, I’ve always found, to instill hope, strength and wisdom into my life.

As a church-hopper, you also get the variety of different religious practices and traditions. Church-hopping shakes up your regular worship routine.

Is this for real Vishnu or are you smoking some ganja in the Nicaraguan barrio?

Listen friends, this isn’t for everyone. If you believe that only your faith or religion has the true connection to God, then by all means attend your church. If you belong to an organization which demands absolute loyalty, a uniform and compound to live, by all means stay 🙂

I’m not advocating this as a path for everyone but if you’re thinking it’s time to give religion a go again, time to try a different religious or spiritual path or just want to get a feel of another religious establishment, then by all means go for it.

This can be a spiritual, cultural and travel adventure of sorts if you’d like! Plus, this is absolutely free and at many Eastern temples and places of worship, you get fed!!! (That’s probably half the reason I’m considering converting to Sikhism)

And come on – worshiping in someone else’s church or temple doesn’t simply mean you’re abandoning your beliefs, faith and traditions. I take it to mean that you’re so confident in your faith that you have no problem worshiping outside of tradition and your comfort zone.

Vishnu, are you going to hell?

In some folks eyes, this could seem as complete heresy, blasphemy and a one way ticket to hell.

But I’m three steps ahead of you. One, I’m increasing my odds of getting to heaven by spreading my risk – there’s less chance I’m embracing the wrong religion if I embrace them all. In fact, I’m probably increasing my chances of escaping hell and making it to heaven.

And if all else fails, as a Hindu, I’m just going to embrace the theory of reincarnation and plan to return in my next life to figure this one out.

Now before you head over to the comments and start giving me a earful, let me use these Nicaraguan church photos as a way to distract you.

Enjoy!

Cathedral church, across from Central Park
Iglesia Xalteva - the church closest to home.
You can find the Virgin of Guadalupe in all churches here.
Don't worry - plenty of room for you.

If you enjoyed those photos, check out this video I captured for you last night of the spiritual vibrancy here. It’s a street parade & celebration of a revered nun in Nicaragua.

What do you think? And I  especially want to hear from the militant religious-type fanatics out there:) Is church-hopping absolutely ridiculous or can worshiping in any religious establishment be ok?

30 Comments

  1. The alternative, I suppose, is to step foot in but one church your entire life, take communion the same way, worship the same way, and never realize that there are as many paths to where you’re trying to go as there are people in the world. If you are secure in your beliefs, I can’t imagine why it would be a threat. But then I’m agnostic, so what the hell (literally) do I know…

    1. Thanks Bri! I appreciate the agnostic take on this:) And it’s exciting having agnostics comment because we are praying that we can convert you one day. haha. or you’ll see the light and join the party!

      Jokes aside, glad you seem ok with church-hopping:) The alternative would be boring and rigid. And really, more than the physical location of where you’re worshiping, being religious or spiritual is really about how we live life. Not where we pray. I should have added that to my post. Anyway, thanks again for dropping by.

      1. lol….I wish you luck in converting me;)

        “Being religious or spiritual is really about how we live life.” So I guess my religion is life, because I’m not guaranteed anything else.

  2. I grew up catholic and also going to church every Sunday whether I wanted to or not. I promised myself that when I have kids I will expose them to all religions and let them decide what suits them. I guess I will be church hoppin!! 🙂

    1. Thanks Meg for your feedback. I grew up in a pretty religious home myself and went to the temple pretty regularly. I’m not sure how the regular dosage of Sunday church made you feel about your faith? Did it help you become more spiritual in life or run far away from it?

      Glad you’re going to give your kids a chance to experience religion for themselves:)

  3. Hi Vishnu! I have to completely agree with you that God’s everywhere and no religion has a monopoly on God. When I was a kid and we moved to a new place my Mom visited many churches of different religions and picked the one that she got the best vibe or connection with. It wasn’t about the religion’s name but more about which church was a good fit and inspired her. I ended up attending for most of my childhood years a very open Methodist church. I too believe that there are many pathways to God, each path significant.

    1. Wendy, thanks for commenting. that’s great that your mother was so open about religion and tried to find the one that fit your family best! She did religion like grocery shopping:)

      I’m glad you’re open to the various spiritual and religious practices out there. I think it’s whatever works for the individual person – do that! And if it doesn’t meet your needs, the keep moving forward til you find the spiritual path that does.

  4. This is such a unique and interesting concept. Church hopping… (I am giggling right now).

    I think spirituality and religion is a unique path for everyone. I think it is awesome that you are going to out church hopping.

    I think some people are scared to do this because they think it is blasphemy (as you mention) but I don’t think it is. I think it is being open minded.

    As I think you know I am a Christian but I would gladly welcome an experience to go to many churches outside of my faith. In fact, I would say as long as I am not going to get attacked I would be interested in attending all churches outside of my faith.

    The interesting thing is that before I became a Christian I would not have been near as interested in exploring these other churches. But now, I am extremely interested in learning about all religions.

    I completely agree with you that this has an opportunity to truly deepen our relationship with God.

    Very interesting post.

    1. Hey Izzy – glad you enjoyed it and it gave you a chuckle. LOL A lot better than threats of physical harm and violence.

      And yeah something to think about. It has to do with one’s comfort level. If you’re open to visiting other churches, go for it. If you’re not or think it’s testing your faith or doing your faith wrong, then do what works for you best.

      Not only churches, but I’m sure you’ll have no problem walking into a Japanese Buddhist temple or other spiritual/religious establishments around the world. IF not for the religious experience, at least for the cultural experience of it all.

  5. Hahaha!

    Vishnu, you’re hilarious!

    But yeah, I think no religion has a monopoly on God. And every religion must have certain universal truths that appeal to its followers. Naturally, certain religions are for certain people, other religions are for other people. In such cases, just follow your heart. Church hopping is not for everyone. But it may be necessary for those people who have not really found a religion or way of thinking that really appeals to them.

    Great pictures of the churches though. I personally prefer Greek Orthodoxy even though I was brought up Methodist. This is simply because I love the Byzantine Empire and its Greek Churches and art. Haha!

    Thank you for sharing this lovely article!

    Irving the Vizier

    1. Vizier, thanks for your comments and glad you appreciate the humor:)

      Following your heart is great advice! This is not for everyone but it’s for you, if you’re open to it. Also, interesting of your preference for Greek Orthodoxy – sometimes it’s the cultural, artistic and historical parts of a religion that draw us into it. Have you considered heading out to a Greek church and checking it out?

  6. Hey Vishnu,

    I love your get out of jail free philosophy, “there’s less chance I’m embracing the wrong religion if I embrace them all”, lol.

    I was brought up Roman Catholic but I don’t practice anymore (haven’t in years). I have read lots and dabbled in other religions and I don’t believe there is one religion that is right about everything. Each tries to teach you how to live a better life, but I think their own rules sometimes get in the way. I will say no more than than as the subject could be a series of blog posts let alone just one 🙂

    What I will say is that I would often when traveling go into any place of worship to just sit down and take a minute or two. It can be very energising and calming. There is just something about certain places that for a brief period feel removed from the world, like they exist in a moment outside of time. In these moments it doesn’t mater what religion the place of worship is for.

    Personal, I like the idea of church hopping.

  7. Haha Keith – glad you enjoyed that get out of jail free philosophy:) I hear you on how religions tend to get in the way sometimes of spiritual growth and living a better life. But lot of good stuff to take from them as well – a buffet like I mentioned:)

    Heck, we have no problem walking into a bar for divine wisdom, you can get the same thing in a church or temple every once in awhile. Again, it’s absolutely free and usually you don’t have to tip the priest:) Glad you’re on board with the church hopping concept:)

  8. Vishnu,

    1.) You are a beautiful writer.
    2.) Even if you weren’t a beautiful writer, I’d visit your blog for the photos alone. They’re amazing.
    3.) The wisest people I know have been church hoppers at one point or two in their lives. It’s something I haven’t done enough of in my life. Like many of your readers here, I grew up Catholic. (12 years of Catholic schools, mind you!) and I’m an open-minded Catholic today. By open-minded Catholic, I’m a sponge. I’m just drawn to see the good in everything, whether it’s other facets of Christianity or other religions all together. It’s been a while since I spent time at a non-Catholic church. Thanks for the reminder that it’s due time for me to do that.
    4. This is exactly why you are talk show host material:
    “One, I’m increasing my odds of getting to heaven by spreading my risk – there’s less chance I’m embracing the wrong religion if I embrace them all. In fact, I’m probably increasing my chances of escaping hell and making it to heaven.” You are funny!

    1. Appreciate the feedback Jody:) I’m working on my writing and humor so thanks for that! The photos are the best of dozens I took and thanks to the reliable Panasonic Lumix digital cam.

      I think sometimes Catholics forget how awesome their church is:) I think it’s having been so used to going to church services that you forget that it’s a powerful and inspiring experience! I can’t get enough of the traditional Catholic services here or in the U.S. for that matter. And as a writer, your next visit to one will prompt a post or 10:) Thanks again for your comments and feedback.

  9. Very cool stuff. I’m personally anti-religion but a follower of Jesus. (Not a Christian, please – that’s just another religion.) Jesus taught that getting tied up in man-made rituals and a focus on was hypocritical, and that the key thing people needed was to reconnect with God. In that light, I believe that any place you can connect to your spiritual side – and especially to something greater than yourself – is a sacred place.

    I love the idea and I’m glad you’re promoting it. I hope this inspires seekers to be a little more open-minded!

    1. Thanks Adina – Yes!! I’m talking about spiritual places in general and using them to connect with your spiritual side, exactly like you point out. And that can be done anywhere; church, temple, in the middle of a forest retreat, etc. I hope other spiritual-seekers just get started on the journey to connect with their spiritual side:)

  10. Vishnu – Though a Catholic, I’ve come to the conclusion that I don’t even have to go to a formal place of worship – any quiet place will do to focus on God – for me the best place is a quiet beach. I do go to Church and have visited temples but nothing compares to finding God within us!
    Great pictures and a fantastic video! Aren’t you having a wonderful time? 🙂

    1. Hey Corrine – you gave me chills by mentioning beach and those sharks and surf instructors out there who are out to get you. I don’t know about beaches because of my personal traumatic events lol but sure, lot of places for people can become spiritual ones. And 100% right – not just about finding God in a place of worship – He’s ultimately within us. A spiritual place can just inspire the journey within.

      You don’t even have to ask about what kind of time I’m having here:) I think the pictures say it all but yes, the time of my life. Thanks for your comments Corinne!

  11. I do belong to a Christian church, but I love to visit other churches as well as the places of worship of other faiths. When I’m invited by someone to attend, I usually go. I always learn something new and I’m more convinced than ever that the Hindus have it right–one truth/God with many paths.

    When I lived in Bangkok, I often worshiped in Buddhist temples and Hindu shrines. My son used to pray with our Muslim guard in the Ivory Coast. In the last few years, I have attended a Mormon service, visited a Jehovah’s Witness Kingdom Hall, attended a bat mitzvah in a Jewish temple, and was invited to a mosque but unfortunately was unable to go at the last minute. I hope to go to the mosque soon.

    I think all our prayers go to the same destination no matter how they are addressed. Great post. And like Irving said, you are hilarious.

    1. Thanks so much for your post and feedback Galen:) Glad you appreciate the humor.

      And loved all your experiences – you did church-hopping before it became the hot thing to do. I’m glad that I’m not the only one doing this and that it’s a shared practice. I really haven’t prayed in a mosque either but I think I’m going to add that to my list.

      Love your last line about how all our prayers go to the same destination:) Amen!

  12. Very interesting! And for the first time, I understood what you meant by church hopping. I marvel at this place and the many churches you’ve come to visit. I’ve been living in QC my whole life and I’ve been frequenting the same church since birth. It wasn’t until I was in my mid-twenties when I started ‘experimenting.’ My sister and I visited a Hindu temple in Singapore. And I felt the ‘sacredness’ of the place. Like Nicaragua, Italy also boasts of its many big churches but the place I like best is Porciuncola (church within the church). We also went to visit a Mosque in N. Africa but I guess the intent was more on visiting the place ~ than worship; more of curiosity above anything else… And yes, I agree, that God is everywhere because we have an ‘inner church’ within us.

    Thank you for sharing your experience *esp. the video 🙂 God bless.

    1. LOL – have I coined a new term MT with church-hopping?? IT was such a beautiful and peaceful city. I can imagine how spiritual and religious Italy must be with all their architecture and religious symbols.

      God is indeed everywhere and can be appreciated especially by community together in places of worship. Thanks for dropping by:)

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