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Modern religions in today’s changing world

Living Religions emphasizes the personal consciousness of believers and their own accounts of their religion and relevance in the present day. Mary Pat Fisher considers how the contemporary beliefs and practices of each of these traditions has evolved, and explores the changing nature of each religion. The ninth edition focuses on cultural customs, popular spiritual practices, mixtures of religions, and varieties of religions ways. Expanded coverage of women, including women’s voices and contributions, is woven into the discussion of each religion.

Living Religions provides a sympathetic approach to the historical teachings of traditional faiths, indigenous religions, and new religious movements. The text follows a clear and straightforward account of the development, doctrines, and practices of the major faiths followed today.

MyReligionLab is an integral part of the Fisher program. Key learning applications include MyReligionLibrary, Closer Look tours, and a personalized study plan.

A better teaching and learning experience

This program will provide a better teaching and learning experience—for you and your students. Here’s how:

  • Personalize Learning — MyReligionLab is an online homework, tutorial, and assessment program. It helps students prepare for class and helps instructors gauge individual and class performance.
  • Improve Critical Thinking — Review questions throughout the text encourage readers to think critically about religion.
  • Engage Students — Diverse stories and cultural images bring religion to life.
  • Support Instructors — The most comprehensive set of instructional materials available, instructor resources reinforce and enliven the study of world religions.
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Editorial Reviews

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: 9780205956739
  • Publisher: Pearson
  • Publication date: 1/4/2013
  • Edition description: Student
  • Edition number: 9
  • Product dimensions: 5.99 (w) x 8.99 (h) x 0.01 (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

In this Section:
Brief Table of Contents

2) Full 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

Special Section: Zoroastrianism

Chapter 8: Judaism

Chapter 9: Christianity

Chapter 10: Islam

Chapter 11: Sikhism

Chapter 12: New Religious Movements

Chapter 13: Religion in the Twenty-first Century


Chapter 1: Religious Responses

Attempts to define religion

Why are there religions?

Understandings of Sacred Reality

Ritual, symbol, and myth

Absolutist and liberal responses to modernity

The encounter between science and religion

Women in religions

Negative aspects of organized religions

Lenses for studying religions

Chapter 2: Indigenous Sacred Ways

Understanding indigenous sacred ways

Cultural diversity

The circle of right relationships

Spiritual specialists

Group observances


Development issues

Chapter 3: Hinduism

Philosophical and metaphysical origins

Major philosophical systems

Religious foundations and theistic paths

The Hindu way of life

Hinduism in the modern world

Chapter 4: Jainism

The Tirthankaras and ascetic orders

Freeing the soul: the ethical pillars

Spiritual practices

World Jainism

Chapter 5: Buddhism

The life and legend of the Buddha

The Dharma

Branches of Buddhism

Buddhism in the West

Socially engaged Buddhism

Chapter 6: Daoism and Confucianism

Ancient traditions

Daoism - the way of nature and immorality

Confucianism - the practice of the virtue

Chapter 7: Shinto

The roots of “Shinto”

Buddhist, Daoist, and Confucian influences

State Shinto

“Sect Shinto”

Shinto today


Chapter 8: Judaism

A history of the Jewish people


Sacred practices

Holy days

Contemporary Judaism

Chapter 9: Christianity

Historical evidence

Evidence of the Bible

The life and teachings of Jesus

The early Church

Church administration

Intellectual revival and monasticism

Medieval mysticism

The Protestant Reformation

The Roman Catholic Reformation

Liberal trends

The Second Vatican Council

The Orthodox world today

Central beliefs in contemporary Christianity

Sacred practices

Contemporary trends

Chapter 10: Islam

Pre-Islamic Arabia

The Prophet Muhammad

The Qur’an

The central teachings

The Five Pillars

Sunni and Shi’a


The spread of Islam

Relationships with the West

Muslim resurgence

Chapter 11: Sikhism

Guru Nanak

The succession of Gurus

Central beliefs

Sacred practices

Sikhism today

Chapter 12: New Religious Movements

Social context for new religious movements

Charismatic leadership

Offshoots of older religions

Combinations of older religions


Social trends

Opposition to new religious movements

Will new religious movements last?

Chapter 13: Religion in the Twenty-first Century



Religious pluralism

Religion in politics

Interfaith movement

Religion and social issues

Religion and materialism

Religion and the future of humanity

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