The World's Religions: Worldviews and Contemporary Issues

Overview

William A. Young employs a set of engaging, essential questions to draw students into a concise, contemporary study of the world's religions. Coverage includes major religions, as well as indigenous religions and new religious movements, providing basic history and worldviews of each. Unlike other leading texts on the market, Young devotes an entire section to twenty-first century ethical concerns—ecology, economics, war, capital punishment, abortion, euthanasia, gender, and sexual orientation—describing in a ...

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Overview

William A. Young employs a set of engaging, essential questions to draw students into a concise, contemporary study of the world's religions. Coverage includes major religions, as well as indigenous religions and new religious movements, providing basic history and worldviews of each. Unlike other leading texts on the market, Young devotes an entire section to twenty-first century ethical concerns—ecology, economics, war, capital punishment, abortion, euthanasia, gender, and sexual orientation—describing in a balanced manner how world religions understand and address these issues.

FREE! BOUND INTO EVERY NEW COPY of The World's Religions is The Sacred World: Encounters with the World's Religions, Prentice Hall's new student tutorial on CD-ROM for world religion. Containing over 60 video segments on nine of the world's leading religions, it vividly illustrates key rituals and beliefs. Also included are a glossary of terms and self-assessment questions on the web tied directly to The Sacred World, to help improve student comprehension. The Sacred World brings the color, sound, and beauty of the world's religions right to students ...no matter where in the world they are!

ALSO FREE! AND BUNDLED WITH EVERY NEW COPY of The World's Religions is Prentice Hall's exclusive TIME Special Edition: World Religions. Recent articles and essays on the world's major religions bring currency to students' study of religion. Articles are highlighted at the end of chapters.

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Editorial Reviews

Booknews
A textbook for a survey course of the world's religions, but also suitable for general readers interested in the different religions and how they respond to basic human problems and contemporary issues. Sections cover indigenous religions of Africa and North America and new and secular religions as well as the standard faiths. Nicely illustrated, partly in color. Includes a glossary without pronunciation. The chapter bibliographies are extensive. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780130328069
  • Publisher: Prentice Hall Professional Technical Reference
  • Publication date: 11/29/1994
  • Edition description: Older Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 560
  • Product dimensions: 8.22 (w) x 9.47 (h) x 0.96 (d)

Read an Excerpt

In nearly three decades of teaching college courses on the world's religions, I have found that students most want to know how religions answer basic human questions such as "Why are we here?" and "What happens after death?" In addition, they wish to learn how religions respond to contemporary ethical issues such as the ecological crisis, economic justice, war, capital punishment, abortion, euthanasia, gender equality, and sexual orientation. They also request an accessible overview of the history and development of religions and their worldviews.

Informed by my students' interests and questions, I have attempted to write a "reader-friendly" introduction to the world's religions, intended for use in classroom surveys, as well as for general readers. It focuses on the basic histories, worldviews, and responses to contemporary ethical issues of the world's religions.

This second edition reorganizes the structure of the book, allowing students to more effectively explore, as well as compare and contrast, religious worldviews and religious responses to some of the most critical issues of the twenty-first century. It also thoroughly updates the surveys of the religions, adding reflections on the status of each religion as the new century begins, and makes current the discussion of ethical issues. Finally, it adds study aids requested by students, including lists of important terms and phrases, and Web sites useful for further study.

Chapter One establishes a framework for understanding religion, with a definition that both distinguishes religion from other human phenomena and structures the analysis of religion. This edition explores more fully the various established methodsfor studying religion, and clarifies the approach taken in this text. It also discusses general questions, such as "Why are people religious?" and "What is the relationship between religion and science?"

Chapters Two through Thirteen provide an overview of the histories, sacred texts, and worldviews of the major religions of the world. The worldviews are presented using the framework introduced in Chapter One, allowing students to develop their own comparisons. The religions surveyed include indigenous religions (with the religions of the Yoruba of West Africa and Oglala Lakota of the northern great plains of North America as examples); religions of South Asia (Hinduism, Theravada Buddhism, and Jainism); religions of East Asia (Daoism, Confucianism, Mahayana Buddhism, Shinto); and religions of the Middle East and beyond (Judaism, Christianity, Islam, and Sikhism).

Chapter Fourteen focuses on a representative sampling of new religious movements. This edition reorganizes the discussion, in terms of the following distinguishing themes evident in these religions:

  • Preparing for the End: Apocalyptic New Religious Movements
  • Faith and Spirit: New Religious Movements of Healing and Awareness
  • Reviving the Church: Christian New Religious Movements of Renewal
  • Nature and Spirit: Earth-based and Ecological New Religious Movements
  • Liberation and Enlightenment: New Religious Movements with Asian Roots
  • African-American and Afro-Caribbean New Religious Movements
  • Native American New Religious Movements
  • Focusing on the Human and the Natural: Secular New Religious Movements
  • The Quest for Unity: Universalist New Religious Movements

The chapter updates the treatment of new religious movements, and adds descriptions of several that have become prominent since the publication of the first edition in 1995: Aum Shinryko, International Raelian Religion, and Falun Gong.

Chapters Fifteen through Eighteen present in an updated manner the responses of the world's major religions and selected new religious movements to the following critically important twenty-first-century ethical issues:

  • The Ecological Crisis: Is the Balance of Life on Planet Earth in Jeopardy?
  • The Economic Crisis: Why Hunger and Abject Poverty in a World of Plenty?
  • War: When, If Ever, Is War Justified?
  • Capital Punishment: When May the State Take a Criminal's Life?
  • Abortion: Right to Life or Right to Choose?
  • Euthanasia: A "Good Death" or "Playing God"?
  • The Changing Roles of Women: Liberation or Confusion?
  • Homosexuality: Orientation, Preference, or Perversion?

The final chapter of the book looks to the future, raising questions of how the religions of the world may relate to one another in the twenty-first century, and whether they will find common ground in addressing ethical issues such as the ecological crisis. Anew feature of this edition is a reflection on the challenges posed to the world's religions and religious people by the tragic events of September 11, 2001.

Study aids at the end of each chapter include a summary, a list of important terms and phrases, questions for discussion and reflection, and sources and suggestions for further study (including Web sites).

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Table of Contents

Preface
Introduction 1
Ch. 1 An Introduction to Religion and the Study of Religion 2
What Is Religion? 3
Why Are People Religious? 7
Why So Many Religions? 8
Why Is the Study of Religion So Important Today? 9
What Is the Relationship between Science and Religion Today? 10
What Special Terms Are Used in the Study of Religion? 11
What Are Symbols, Myths, and Rituals? 11
What Is the Approach to Religion in this Text? 14
Ch. 2 An Orientation to Religious Responses to Basic Human Questions and Contemporary Ethical Issues 20
Introduction: Why? 21
Basic Human Questions 21
Contemporary Ethical Issues 24
Ch. 3 Introduction and Indigenous Religions of Africa 40
Problems in Studying Indigenous Religions 41
The Traditional Worldview of Indigenous Peoples 42
An Orientation to the Indigenous Religions of Africa 48
Case Study - The Yoruba of West Africa 53
Responses to Contemporary Ethical Issues 58
Ch. 4 Indigenous Religions of North America 64
An Orientation to the Indigenous Religions of North America 65
Case Study - The Oglala Lakota (Sioux): The Sacred Hoop of the Nation 70
The Continuing Impact of Indigenous Religions 84
Responses to Contemporary Ethical Issues 85
Ch. 5 Hinduism: Many Paths to the Summit 96
An Orientation to South and Southeast Asia 97
Stages of Development and Sacred Texts 104
Distinctive Teachings 119
Responses to Contemporary Ethical Issues 126
Ch. 6 Theravada Buddhism: The Middle Way 136
Stages of Development and Sacred Texts 137
Distinctive Teachings of the Theravada Branch 144
Responses to Contemporary Ethical Issues 151
Ch. 7 Jainism: The Way of Non-Injury: and Sikhism: Neither Muslim nor Hindu 158
Jainism: Non-Injury to All Life 159
Sikhism: Neither Hindu nor Muslim 165
Responses to Contemporary Ethical Issues 171
Ch. 8 Taoism: The Way of Nature and Confucianism: The Way of Virtue 176
An Orientation to East Asia 177
Taoism: The Way of Nature 184
Confucianism: The Way of Virtue 192
Responses to Contemporary Ethical Issues 200
Ch. 9 Mahayana Buddhism: The Great Vehicle: and Shinto: The Way of the Kami 208
A Brief History of Korea and Japan 209
Popular Japanese Religion 210
Mahayana Buddhism in East Asia 212
Shinto: The Native Religion of Japan 225
Religion in Modern East Asia 235
Responses to Contemporary Ethical Issues 237
Ch. 10 Zoroastrianism: Good versus Evil 248
An Orientation to the Middle East 249
Zoroastrianism: Good versus Evil 255
Responses to Contemporary Ethical Issues 262
Ch. 11 Judaism: The Way of Torah 264
Introduction: What Is Judaism? 265
Stages of Development and Sacred Texts 265
Distinctive Teachings 281
Responses to Contemporary Ethical Issues 288
Ch. 12 Christianity: The Way of Jesus Christ 304
Stages of Development and Sacred Texts 305
Distinctive Teachings 321
Responses to Contemporary Ethical Issues 328
Ch. 13 Islam: The Way of Submission to Allah 352
Stages of Development and Sacred Texts 353
Distinctive Teachings 365
Responses to Contemporary Ethical Issues 374
Ch. 14 The New Religions 386
Introduction: Why So Many New Religions? 387
The "Cults" Controversy 387
The "New Age" Phenomenon 389
Case Studies 390
Spiritually Oriented New Religions 391
Secular New Religions 420
Ch. 15 The Future of the World's Religions 432
How Will the World's Religions Relate to One Another? Three Possible Futures 433
The Search for Common Ground: The Ecological Crisis 436
A Final Word 438
Glossary 441
Photo Credits 451
Index 453
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