God Is Not One: The Eight Rival Religions That Run the World—and Why Their Differences Matter
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At the dawn of the twenty-first century, dizzying scientific and technological advancements, interconnected globalized economies, and even the so-called New Atheists have done nothing to change one thing: our world remains furiously religious. For good and for evil, religion is the single greatest influence in the world. We accept as self-evident that competing economic systems (capitalist or communist) or clashing political parties (Republican or Democratic) propose very different solutions to our planet's problems. So why do we pretend that the world's religious traditions are different paths to the same God? We blur the sharp distinctions between religions at our own peril, argues religion scholar Stephen Prothero, and it is time to replace naÏve hopes of interreligious unity with deeper knowledge of religious differences.
In Religious Literacy, Prothero demonstrated how little Americans know about their own religious traditions and why the world's religions should be taught in public schools. Now, in God Is Not One, Prothero provides readers with this much-needed content about each of the eight great religions. To claim that all religions are the same is to misunderstand that each attempts to solve a different human problem. For example:
--Islam: the problem is pride / the solution is submission
--Christianity: the problem is sin / the solution is salvation
--Confucianism: the problem is chaos / the solution is social order
--Buddhism: the problem is suffering / the solution is awakening
--Judaism: the problem is exile / the solution is to return to God
Prothero reveals each of these traditions on its own terms to create an indispensable guide for anyone who wants to better understand the big questions human beings have asked for millennia--and the disparate paths we are taking to answer them today. A bold polemical response to a generation of misguided scholarship, God Is Not One creates a new context for understanding religion in the twenty-first century and disproves the assumptions most of us make about the way the world's religions work.
they were also Daoist wanderers who through various techniques mimicked the ecstasies of ancient Chinese shamans, traveling to other worlds and coming back with wisdom (and stories) from spirits and gods. Getting your fill of Daoism is even easier in your living room and at the movies than it is at your local bookstore. On the animated television comedy The Simpsons, Lisa helps her brother Bart compete in a miniature golf tournament by hopping him up with a cocktail of Daoist and Zen wisdom and
grieving his passing. Eros and thanatos, as Freud might say: the sex urge and the death urge—two sides of being human. A few years ago, when “What Would Jesus Do?” bracelets were colonizing evangelical wrists across America, a friend started making “What Would You Do?” bracelets. Forget what Jesus would do. What would Joseph or Katie do? Inside the packing boxes for these bracelets she tucked sayings from various thinkers about finding and following your own path. In almost all religions there
1082 languages as of December 2009, according to The Jesus Film Project web site (http://www.jesusfilm.org/film-and-media/statistics/languages-completed). On this same site, megachurch pastor Rick Warren refers to this movie as “the most effective evangelistic tool ever invented.” 3. J. C. Hallman, The Devil Is a Gentleman: Exploring America’s Religious Fringe (New York: Random House, 2006), xv. 4. See Stephen Prothero, American Jesus: How the Son of God Became a National Icon (New York:
the Last Drop’: The Proliferation of the Maxwell House Haggadah,” in My People’s Passover Haggadah: Traditional Texts, Modern Commentaries, eds. Lawrence A. Hoffman and David Arnow (Woodstock, VT: Jewish Lights, 2008), 85–90. 32. For different views on this important topic, see Alan F. Segal, Life After Death: A History of the Afterlife in Western Religions (New York: Doubleday, 2004) and Jon D. Levenson, Resurrection and the Restoration of Israel: The Ultimate Victory of the God of Life (New
took as a young man to Egypt and Haiti. In 1959 in Cuba he was initiated into the Santeria priesthood of Obatala. But in keeping with his “back to Africa” commitments, his community aimed to purify itself of New World influences. To that end, Adefunmi was initiated into the Ifa priesthood in Nigeria in 1972. On a later trip to Nigeria he was coronated an oba in Ile-Ife in 1981. Despite efforts to strip Catholic (and Protestant) masks off New World Yoruba practice, many influences from Santeria