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In pursuit of an answer to the question of what would constitute a perfect world, author Ken Spiro questioned more than 1,500 people of various backgrounds and religions. His findings revealed six core elements: Respect for human life; peace and harmony; justice and equality; education; family; and social responsibility. He then set off on a journey to find out why these were such common goals across cultural, economic, social and racial lines, and in the process, traced the ...
In pursuit of an answer to the question of what would constitute a perfect world, author Ken Spiro questioned more than 1,500 people of various backgrounds and religions. His findings revealed six core elements: Respect for human life; peace and harmony; justice and equality; education; family; and social responsibility. He then set off on a journey to find out why these were such common goals across cultural, economic, social and racial lines, and in the process, traced the history of the development of world religions, values and ethics.
As a rabbi, he paid particular attention to how Judaism impacted, and was influenced by, the course of these developments. The result is a highly readable and well-documented book about the origins of values and virtues in Western civilization as influenced by the Greeks, Romans, Christians, Muslims and, most significantly, the Jews.
The history of religion, presented in Spiro’s highly readable style, is a fascinating and timely subject, especially in today’s volatile religious climate. Spiro divides his book into five engaging parts:
Readers of all faiths will find that the elements of a perfect world can only be achieved by a common understanding of our mutual backgrounds and that our diverse religions are all merely branches growing from one single tree.
|Part I||Where the Quality of Mercy Was Not Strained: The World of Greece and Rome||1|
|2.||War Makes the World Go 'Round||17|
|4.||Ignorance As Bliss||37|
|5.||Sex and Sensibility||43|
|6.||Far from the Madding Crowd||55|
|7.||No Better, No Worse||59|
|8.||Conclusions: Part I||67|
|Part II||Against the Grain: The Jewish View||69|
|9.||He Who Saves One Life Saves the World||75|
|10.||When the Lion Lies Down with the Lamb||79|
|11.||Justice, Justice You Shall Pursue||85|
|12.||Reading, Writing and Torah||91|
|13.||God, Mom and Apple Pie||97|
|14.||Give Me Your Tired, Your Poor, Your Huddled Masses||103|
|15.||Conclusions: Part II||109|
|Part III||A Father to Many Nations: Abraham and the Implications of Monotheism||113|
|16.||Keeping Up with the Morality of the Joneses||117|
|17.||A Strange Man with a Strange Idea||123|
|18.||One for All and All for One||129|
|19.||Beauty and the Beast of Greece||147|
|20.||When in Rome Do As the Greeks Do||157|
|21.||Conclusions: Part III||173|
|Part IV||With Sword and Fire: The Rise of Christianity and Islam||179|
|22.||The Religion Revolution||183|
|23.||The Forgotten Children of Abraham||191|
|25.||A Spark in the Dark||217|
|26.||Conclusions: Part IV||227|
|Part V||The New Promised Land: The Impact of Judaism on Modern Democracies||229|
|27.||The Puritans Are Coming||233|
|28.||America the Beautiful||245|
|29.||Fanning the Flames of Freedom||257|
|30.||The Best of the Rest||265|
|31.||Conclusions: Part V||271|
Posted June 29, 2005
Every college student would be well-served by reading this book and having the bibliographical sources to pursue many other tangents and questions that this book asks us to consider. As an adult who is considering going through the conversion process to Judiasm, this book answers many questions as to the mindset of the first century Jews and clearly demonstrates the ethical superiority of Judiasm for centuries in the basic areas of human rights that we take for granted in the United States in the 21st. century. Further, it reveals the day-to-day atrocities that were committed in Greco-Roman times and causes one to think that mankind would have been far better served by living in a world ruled by the Torah as opposed to any other alternative I can think of. Beautiful ruins and abstract philosophy seem far less important than an evenly applied code of ethical behavior. For me, this book breathes new life into the ancient world and Western Civilization as a whole. It is a catalyst for many lines of inquiry and I thoroughly enjoyed it.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.