Living Religions: A Brief Introduction / Edition 3

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Overview

Reflecting modern religions in today’s changing world.

Living Religions: A Brief Introduction 3/e presents a highly readable and stimulating concise survey of the modern religious world though an emphasis on the personal consciousness of believers and their own accounts of their religion and relevance in contemporary life.

Along with a team of specialist consultants in each faith, and drawing on a wealth of scholarly research and firsthand source material, Mary Pat Fisher provides a fresh and challenging insight into the historical development and teachings of traditional faiths, indigenous religions, and new religious movements. She considers how the contemporary beliefs and practices of each of these traditions has evolved, and explores the changing nature of each religion; particularly the role of women, and the issues and controversies such as fundamentalism, violence, globalization, and interfaith initiatives.

Teaching and Learning Experience

Personalize Learning - MyReligionLabdelivers proven results in helping students succeed, provides engaging experiences that personalize learning, and comes from a trusted partner with educational expertise and a deep commitment to helping students and instructors achieve their goals.

Improve Critical Thinking - Outstanding student pedagogy- including lists of key topics, review and discussion questions, a suggested reading list, Teaching Stories boxes, primary source quotations, a timeline, world map, key terms and more! - encourages students to examine their assumptions, discern hidden values, evaluate evidence, assess their conclusions, and more!

Engage Students - Living Religions: A Brief Introductionprovides personal interviews with followers of each faith, Religion in Practice and Religion in Public Life boxes, and an impressive image program - all which help to bring each major world religion to life.

Support Instructors - Teaching your course just got easier! You can create a Customized Text or use our Instructor’s Manual, Electronic “MyTest” Test Bank or PowerPoint Presentation Slides. Plus, Living Religions:A Brief Introduction 3/e is concise enough that you can opt to use additional handouts, course packs, or supplemental readings.

Note: MyReligionLab does no come automatically packaged with this text. To purchase MyReligionLab, please visit www.MyReligionLab.com or you can purchase a valuepack of the text + MyReligionLab (VP ISBN-10: 0205242081, VP ISBN-13: 9780205242085)

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

I think the Fisher text's comprehensive coverage of the basics of each religion is commendable. Even if I don't teach every religion in the book (an impossible feat), I still direct students to those chapters as reference or further information.

-Professor Jonathan Tan, Xavier University

Plenty of examples are sited. Primary sources, personal interviews, etc. are all very useful for the students understanding of course topics.

-Instructor Sarah McCombs, University of West Florida

I do like that the material is organized somewhat historically, splitting between the "east" and the "west." I do not need to skip up and down the various chapters, which I like.

-Instructor Dorcas Chung, Folsom Lake College

The text is teachable in the sense that whereas Fisher does not problematize the information, the instructor has plenty of in-roads to do so while teaching.

-Instructor Fotini Katsanos, University of North Carolina at Charlotte

For an introductory text, I find it to be very accurate and representative of a solid textbook. I have looked over MANY simliar texts in the same genre, yet I find myself coming back to Living Religions again and again.

-Jon Brammer, Three Rivers Community College

The fisher text is good in providing both past and present persepctives.

-Professor Leena Taneja, Stetson University

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780205229703
  • Publisher: Pearson
  • Publication date: 10/20/2011
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 3
  • Pages: 376
  • Sales rank: 311,318
  • Product dimensions: 6.40 (w) x 9.20 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

In This Section:

I. Author Bio

II. Author Letter

I. Author Bio

Mary Pat Fisher writes about all religions, not only from academic research, but also from her experiences with religions around the world. Much of her knowledge comes from the unique interfaith community in India, Gobind Sadan, where she has lived since 1991. In addition to eight editions of Living Religions, she has written other textbooks about religions and also about art. "Religion is not a museum piece. Religion is a vibrant force in the lives of many people around the world, and many religions are presently experiencing a renaissance." - Mary Pat Fisher

II. Author Letter

Dear Colleague,

I am very happy to have had the chance to prepare a third edition of Living Religions: A Brief Introduction, for even though the eternal values embedded in religions remain the same, the social and historical circumstances surrounding them as well as the scholarship pertaining to them are changing rapidly. To update the text I’ve taken the help of many reviewers and a new team of excellent special consultants from a variety of academic institutions. I’ve also continued to travel, speak with, and worship with people of all faiths around the world, including the continual flow of people of all religions through our Gobind Sadan Institute for Advanced Studies in Comparative Religion in New Delhi. In this unique interfaith, international community I am privileged to meet scholars of all traditions and to live among Russian Orthodox and Protestant Christians, Tibetan Buddhist nuns, Muslims, Sikhs, and Hindus.

This edition includes perspectives gleaned from another visit to China, where I met Daoist nuns, Christian pastors, and the national leaders of thriving Buddhist organizations.

In Turkey, I witnessed the revival of religious interest but also the contemporary tensions between religious beliefs and the government’s officially secular policy. Muslim friends took me to the well-preserved ruins of Ephesus, and the grotto nearby where Mary, mother of Jesus, is believed to have been brought by John the Beloved Disciple to live her last years.

Religions are so lively today that there is much to share. This new edition therefore includes new material on the encounter between science and religion, the impact of globalization on indigenous religions and more material on African religions as well as the "Great Reversal" in Christianity. It includes increased coverage of Buddhism in China, the latest in academic debates about the Indus Valley Civilization and the origin of the Vedas. There is more on socially engaged Buddhism, the latest scholarship on organized and folk Daoism in China and the interactions between Shinto, Buddhist, and Confucian ways in Japan as well as updated material on contemporary Israel.

I have extensively revised the chapter on Christianity using new historical and biblical scholarship and more coverage of developing trends such as Evangelicalism and Pentecostalism. Looking deeper into the past as well as the present, I have revised the text on pre-Islamic Arabia, Islam in the West, and Islam in politics and offered a new feature box on the courageous Nobel Prize winner Shirin Ebadi of Iran. Among the many changes in the chapter on new religious movements I’ve developed a section on the recently deceased charismatic leader Sathya Sai Baba and prepared a new interview box featuring a German practitioner of Transcendental Meditation. New material in the last chapter includes expanded discussions of globalization, secularism, and religions’ engagement with social issues.

I hope that your students will find this new edition of Living Religions: A Brief Introduction accurate, informative, and thought-provoking, and that it will increase their awareness and appreciation of all religions, including their own.

Sincerely,

Mary Pat Fisher

Gobind Sadan Institute for Advanced Studies in Comparative Religion, New Delhi

Marypfisher@hotmail.com

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Read an Excerpt

Religion is not a museum piece. At the dawn of the twenty-first century, it is a vibrant force in the lives of many people around the world, and many religions are presently experiencing a renaissance.

Living Religions: A Brief Introduction, which is a brief edition of Living Religions, fourth edition, remains a sympathetic approach to what is living and significant in the world's major religious traditions and in various new movements that are arising. This book provides a clear and straightforward account of the development, doctrines, and practices of the major faiths followed today. The emphasis throughout is on the personal consciousness of believers and their own accounts of their religion and its relevance in contemporary life.

Special features

The seven feature boxes on "Religion in Public Life" portray the Spiritual roots of people who are making significant contributions to society. They include indigenous environmental activist Winona LaDuke, Hindu statesman and interfaith leader Dr. Karan Singly His Holiness the Dalai Lama whose political efforts on behalf of Tibet are undergirded by Buddhist principles, social activist Dr. Janice Penman whose Jewish roots have developed her compassion for marginalized people, Dr. Desmond Tutu and Dr. Farid Esack, who as a faithful Christian and a faithful Muslim, respectively, have played significant roles in South Africa's freedom movement and subsequent rebuilding, and His Holiness Baba Virsa Singly who draws on the universal themes in Sikh tradition to encourage open-mindedness and altruism among Indian public figures.

The socio-political context of the contemporary practice of religionsincludes an exploration of Hindu nationalism, Buddhist social activism, Confucianism in today's China, Judaism in today's Israel, Islam and the development of nation-states, and Sikh politics. There is significant coverage of women in religion.

Personal interviews with followers of each faith provide first-person accounts of each religion as perceived from within the tradition. These are presented at length in boxes and also in excerpts woven throughout the text.

The book incorporates extensive quotations from primary sources to give a direct perception of the thinking and flavor of each tradition. Particularly memorable brief quotations are set off in boxes.

Three chapters in this book are quite unique. One is the first chapter, "The Religious Response," which explores perspectives on religion in general. These include skeptical materialistic views and psychological perspectives, as well as the point of view that religions are responses to a sacred Reality which cannot be physically perceived but which can perhaps be experienced inwardly. The chapter also includes an exploration of the role of myth and varying types of religious understanding, including contemporary tensions between absolutist and liberal interpretations.

The second chapter portrays the little-understood indigenous religions. I have tried to bypass misleading accounts of indigenous traditions written by outsiders, and to get at the heart of how real people experience their close-to-nature spiritual ways. As we face the possibility of ecological collapse and urban residents feel increasingly alienated from the natural world, it is especially important that these surviving followers of the ancient ways be heard correctly. The chapter includes contemporary efforts to revive the traditional knowledge and practices.

Chapter 11 explores the global religious scene at the turn of the twentieth century. It discusses some types of new religious movements of the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries and issues which have arisen with their development, such as opposition from previously established religions.

This chapter also surveys global trends found in all religions, including both an increase in "fundamentalist" rigidities and a softening of historical boundaries between people of different faiths. Included is a discussion of whether religions are basically similar or irreconcilably different in their claims to truth. There is also an examination of the evolving relationship between religion and materialism, the engagement of religions with social issues of our times, and the potential of religion for improving the future of humanity.

For the purpose of Living Religions: A Brief Introduction, I reluctantly took the decision to drop the chapter on Jainism rather than make further cuts to existing chapters. However, students can refer to Living Religions, fourth edition, for full coverage of this important religion.

Learning aids

The learning aids from Living Religions, fourth edition, have been retained. I have tried to present each tradition clearly and without a clutter of less important names and dates. Key terms, highlighted in bold or italics, are defined when they first appear and also in an extensive glossary. Because students are often unfamiliar with terms from other cultures, pronunciation guides for many of these terms appear in the glossary entries.

The history of the major religions is recapitulated in a time-line in the relevant chapter. The simultaneous development of all religions can be compared in the overall time-line on the end pages.

I assume that readers will want to delve further into the literature. At the end of each chapter, I offer an annotated list of books that might be particularly interesting and useful in deeper study of that religion.

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Table of Contents

Chapter 1: Religious Responses

Chapter 2: Indigenous Sacred Ways

Chapter 3: Hinduism

Chapter 4: Jainism

Chapter 5: Buddhism

Chapter 6: Daoism and Confucianism

Chapter 7: Shinto and Zoroastrianism

Chapter 8: Judaism

Chapter 9: Christianity

Chapter 10: Islam

Chapter 11: Sikhism

Chapter 12: Religion in a New Era

Glossary.

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Preface

Religion is not a museum piece. At the dawn of the twenty-first century, it is a vibrant force in the lives of many people around the world, and many religions are presently experiencing a renaissance.

Living Religions: A Brief Introduction, which is a brief edition of Living Religions, fourth edition, remains a sympathetic approach to what is living and significant in the world's major religious traditions and in various new movements that are arising. This book provides a clear and straightforward account of the development, doctrines, and practices of the major faiths followed today. The emphasis throughout is on the personal consciousness of believers and their own accounts of their religion and its relevance in contemporary life.

Special features

The seven feature boxes on "Religion in Public Life" portray the Spiritual roots of people who are making significant contributions to society. They include indigenous environmental activist Winona LaDuke, Hindu statesman and interfaith leader Dr. Karan Singly His Holiness the Dalai Lama whose political efforts on behalf of Tibet are undergirded by Buddhist principles, social activist Dr. Janice Penman whose Jewish roots have developed her compassion for marginalized people, Dr. Desmond Tutu and Dr. Farid Esack, who as a faithful Christian and a faithful Muslim, respectively, have played significant roles in South Africa's freedom movement and subsequent rebuilding, and His Holiness Baba Virsa Singly who draws on the universal themes in Sikh tradition to encourage open-mindedness and altruism among Indian public figures.

The socio-political context of the contemporary practice of religions includes anexploration of Hindu nationalism, Buddhist social activism, Confucianism in today's China, Judaism in today's Israel, Islam and the development of nation-states, and Sikh politics. There is significant coverage of women in religion.

Personal interviews with followers of each faith provide first-person accounts of each religion as perceived from within the tradition. These are presented at length in boxes and also in excerpts woven throughout the text.

The book incorporates extensive quotations from primary sources to give a direct perception of the thinking and flavor of each tradition. Particularly memorable brief quotations are set off in boxes.

Three chapters in this book are quite unique. One is the first chapter, "The Religious Response," which explores perspectives on religion in general. These include skeptical materialistic views and psychological perspectives, as well as the point of view that religions are responses to a sacred Reality which cannot be physically perceived but which can perhaps be experienced inwardly. The chapter also includes an exploration of the role of myth and varying types of religious understanding, including contemporary tensions between absolutist and liberal interpretations.

The second chapter portrays the little-understood indigenous religions. I have tried to bypass misleading accounts of indigenous traditions written by outsiders, and to get at the heart of how real people experience their close-to-nature spiritual ways. As we face the possibility of ecological collapse and urban residents feel increasingly alienated from the natural world, it is especially important that these surviving followers of the ancient ways be heard correctly. The chapter includes contemporary efforts to revive the traditional knowledge and practices.

Chapter 11 explores the global religious scene at the turn of the twentieth century. It discusses some types of new religious movements of the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries and issues which have arisen with their development, such as opposition from previously established religions.

This chapter also surveys global trends found in all religions, including both an increase in "fundamentalist" rigidities and a softening of historical boundaries between people of different faiths. Included is a discussion of whether religions are basically similar or irreconcilably different in their claims to truth. There is also an examination of the evolving relationship between religion and materialism, the engagement of religions with social issues of our times, and the potential of religion for improving the future of humanity.

For the purpose of Living Religions: A Brief Introduction, I reluctantly took the decision to drop the chapter on Jainism rather than make further cuts to existing chapters. However, students can refer to Living Religions, fourth edition, for full coverage of this important religion.

Learning aids

The learning aids from Living Religions, fourth edition, have been retained. I have tried to present each tradition clearly and without a clutter of less important names and dates. Key terms, highlighted in bold or italics, are defined when they first appear and also in an extensive glossary. Because students are often unfamiliar with terms from other cultures, pronunciation guides for many of these terms appear in the glossary entries.

The history of the major religions is recapitulated in a time-line in the relevant chapter. The simultaneous development of all religions can be compared in the overall time-line on the end pages.

I assume that readers will want to delve further into the literature. At the end of each chapter, I offer an annotated list of books that might be particularly interesting and useful in deeper study of that religion.

Read More Show Less

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