Changing colors of money: Tips, commissions, and ritual in christian pilgrimage to the holy land

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


The movement of money in Christian pilgrimage is a profound mirror of cultural classifications. By examining tips, commissions, and souvenir purchases in Holy Land pilgrimages, I show how the transfer of monies activates a series of multiple, complex relationships between Jewish guides, Palestinian drivers, and Christian pilgrims. I identify the 'colors'-or moral values-of salaries, tips, and commissions that change hands as 'white', 'black', or 'gray' monies and correlate these colors with particular discourses and degrees of transparency. I then illustrate how prayer, rituals, and the citation of scripture may 'bleach' these monies, transforming tips into 'love offerings' and souvenir purchases into aids to spiritual development or charity to local communities, while fostering relationships and conveying messages across religious and cultural lines. Far from being a universal 'acid' that taints human relationships, pilgrimage monies demonstrate how, through the exchange of goods, people are able to create and maintain spiritual values.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)143-156
Number of pages14
JournalReligion and Society
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Sep 2014


  • Commissions
  • Exchange
  • Holy Land pilgrimage
  • Reciprocity
  • Ritual
  • Tips
  • Tour guides
  • Transparency

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Religious studies


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