Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Seven new books for the spiritually starved

For The Daily Beast, Spencer Bailey tagged seven new books for the spiritually starved.

One title on the list:
God is Not One: The Eight Rival Religions That Run the World—and Why Their Differences Matter by Stephen Prothero

God is Not One is 2010’s must-read for anyone religiously illiterate. (Perhaps not surprisingly, the author Stephen Prothero, a religion professor at Boston University, also wrote the 2007 bestseller Religious Literacy.) Here Prothero outlines clich├ęd American stereotypes (“Buddhism conjures up the Dali Lama and his Nobel Peace Prize, but Islam conjures up Osama bin Laden and his assault rifle”), then puts these ignorant, usually misguided beliefs to rest. More than an educational guide, Prothero’s book is a lively retrospective of today’s major religions: Islam (“the path of submission”); Christianity (“so elastic that it seems a stretch to use this term to cover the beliefs and behaviors of Pentecostals in Brazil, Mormons in Utah, Roman Catholics in Italy, and the Orthodox in Moscow”); Confucianism (“a philosophy, ethic, or way of life”); Hinduism (“an over-the-top religion of big ideas, bright colors, soulful mantras, spicy foods, complex rituals, and wild stories”); Buddhism (“more about experience than doctrine”); Yoruba religion (“a system of communication and exchange between human beings and the divine”); Judaism (“unusually cacophonous”); Daoism (“a tradition of sacred mountains and pilgrimages and festivals and wine and incense and hymns and sexual practices and alternative medicine and martial arts and meandering conversations”)—and, for good measure, atheism (“a postreligious utopia”). Don’t know much about the world’s faiths? Get a copy now.
Read about the other books on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue