Living Religions / Edition 6

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Overview

This exceptionally readable book about the modern religious world explores the development, doctrines, and practices of today's major faiths. Beautifully illustrated with extensive use of quotations, interviews, and feature boxes of well-known figures, it explores the personal consciousness of believers, their religion, and reality at large. Topics covered in this book include Hinduism, Jainism, Buddhism, Taoism and Confucianism, Shinto, Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Sikhism, and new religious developments and trends. For anyone interested in an overall view of today's religions that allows the reader to contrast and compare, including those in the clergy and workers in religious organizations.
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Editorial Reviews

Booknews
A textbook surveying religions that are being practiced today around the world. Revised from the 1991 and 1994 editions to describe the situation in formerly communist countries, the current role of religion in business and politics, and trends such as the hardening of fundamentalist thought and the softening of boundaries between sects. A pronunciation guide has also been added to the glossary. Well illustrated. Annotation c. by Book News, Inc., Portland, Or.
From the Publisher

“[The text is teachable], given the variety of pedagogical tools on display within each chapter, as well as the MyReligionLab option. This text would prove an excellent companion and dialogue partner for the student.”

- Chris Newcomb, Bethune-Cookman University

“I believe the text does a very nice job of providing detail without becoming overwhelming from the perspective of the introductory student.

-Charles Johnson, Washtenaw Community College

“The organization is well done and logical. The consistent layout helps the readers to organize and compare the religions in their understanding of it

- Ivory Lyons, University of Mount Union

“My students consistently find the book interesting and compelling.”

- Barbara Darling-Smith, Wheaton College

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780131933156
  • Publisher: Prentice Hall
  • Publication date: 2/28/2005
  • Edition description: Older Edition
  • Edition number: 6
  • Pages: 528
  • Lexile: 1290L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 7.60 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

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.

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Table of Contents

Preface 9
Ch. 1 The Religious Response 12
Ch. 2 Indigenous Sacred Ways 38
Ch. 3 Hinduism 69
Ch. 4 Jainism 114
Ch. 5 Buddhism 126
Ch. 6 Taoism and Confucianism 164
Ch. 7 Shinto 188
Ch. 8 Zoroastrianism 202
Ch. 9 Judaism 216
Ch. 10 Christianity 265
Ch. 11 Islam 331
Ch. 12 Sikhism 375
Ch. 13 New Religious Movements 394
Ch. 14 Religion at the Turn of the Century 422
Notes 437
Glossary 448
Credits 456
Index 458
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Introduction

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

Living Religions is 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

This fifth edition of Living Religions preserves and improves upon the features that make Living Religions special. One of these is the personal interviews with followers of each faith. This material provides interesting and informative first-person accounts of each religion as perceived from within the tradition. I have presented these first-person quotations from many people, from a Siberian shamaness to a holocaust survivor, in "Interview" feature boxes and also in excerpts woven throughout the text. A new interview box has been added in the Jain chapter, giving insights into the ascetic life of a "semi-nun."

The feature boxes on "Religion in Public Life" have been much appreciated, so I have added two new ones to this edition. One is with U.S. Senator Joseph Lieberman, in which he gives intimate views of the spiritual life of traditional Judaism that underlies his public service. The final chapter, which looks at current issues in religion as we begin living inthe new millennium, includes a feature box on former U.S. President and peace worker Jimmy Carter, illustrating his deeply religious values. There are now a total of eight of these boxes in the text, portraying the spiritual roots of people who are making significant contributions to modern society. There are also eight feature boxes on "Religion in Practice," such as the, Sun Dance, in which dancers in indigenous American societies practice self-sacrifice for the sake of their peoples, and Mother Teresa's example of Christian love in action. In addition, there are ten feature boxes containing "Teaching Stories" that can serve as take-off points for discussions about core values imbedded in each faith.

Violence perpetrated in the name of religion is often in the news these days. This fifth edition includes probing discussions of this disturbing factor in many major religions and also in new religious movements. Distinctions are made between the basic teachings of religions, none of which condones wanton violence, and the ways in which religions have been politicized. Coverage of the socio-political context of the contemporary practice of religions has been increased especially in the wake of the events of September 11, 2001 in the United States, which brought a sea change in the ways that people of different religions look at each other.

People of many faiths are also looking at ways in which their religious practices and beliefs affect the environment. This edition, therefore, includes new material on religious approaches to contemporary ecological concerns, from the high dams that are threatening traditional cultures in India to the story of an American woman who lived high in an ancient redwood tree for two years to save it.

Throughout the book, coverage of women's contributions and women's issues has been increased. Women's voices are woven into the discussions throughout, including female theologians who are bringing vital new perspectives to religious scholarship. African and African-American religious experiences are also of increasing interest, and these are more extensively covered in this edition. There are poignant descriptions, for instance, of the lives of American Muslim converts who are trying to maintain traditional piety in the midst of modern materialistic society.

New religious movements are still proliferating in all directions. Some have turned to violent means of expressing their beliefs, so I have incorporated specific discussion of violence in new religious movements in Chapter 12. That chapter has been extensively revised, reorganized, and updated.

The opening chapter, "The Religious Response," has likewise been overhauled to bring more critical scholarship to bear on underlying issues in the study of religion and, in all chapters, the latest scholarship has been applied. Valuable primary source material has also been updated and expanded in this fifth edition. 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.

One of the most engaging features of Living Religions is its illustrations. I have been glad to have the chance to add more than 120 new pictures—many of them in color—to this fifth edition to help bring religions to life. Narrative captions accompanying the illustrations offer additional insights into the characteristics and orientation of each tradition and the people who practice it.

Learning aids

I have tried to present each tradition clearly and without the clutter of less important names and dates. Key terms, defined and highlighted in boldface when they first appear, are included in an extensive glossary which has been further expanded and revised in this edition. Because students are often unfamiliar with terms from other cultures, useful guides to pronunciation of words that may be unfamiliar are included in the glossary.

Maps are used throughout the text to give a sense of geographical reality to the historical discussions, as well as to illustrate the present distribution of the religions. I have added a new map of the missionary journeys of the apostle Paul in the chapter on Christianity.

Timelines are used to recapitulate the historical development of the major religions. These have been brought up to the present and redesigned for clarity. The simultaneous development of all religions can be compared in the overall timeline 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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