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God Is Not One: The Eight Rival Religions That Run the World ~ by Stephen Prothero, 2010
Because this book is about eight very different religions with an extra chapter on atheism, I'm sharing the first words of each chapter, as well as the introduction.
"At least since the first petals of the counterculture bloomed across Europe and the United States in the 1960s, it has been fashionable to affirm that all religions are beautiful and all are true" (p. 1).1. Islam ~ The Way of Submission
"Most Europeans and North Americans have never met a Muslim, so for them Islam begins in the imagination, more specifically in that corner of the imagination colonized by fear" (p. 25).2. Christianity ~ The Way of Salvation
"Every Christmas Eve when I was a boy, my family would gather around the fire to hear my father read The Christ Child (1931). The children's book borrows its voice from the stories of Jesus's birth and youth in the New Testament gospels of Matthew and Luke" (p. 65).3. Confucianism ~ The Way of Propriety
To many Westerners, Confucianism seems about as relevant as a fortune cookie (p. 101).4. Hinduism ~ The Way of Devotion
At the beginning of any new venture, Hindus call upon Ganesha, the elephant-headed god of good fortune, lord of thresholds, and remover of obstacles" (p. 131).5. Buddhism ~ The Way of Awakening
"Buddhism begins with a fairy tale. Unlike Cinderella or Rocky, however, this is no underdog fantasy of someone who has nothing and gains the whole world. In fact it is just the opposite — a story of someone who has everything and decides to give it all away" (p. 169).6. Yoruba Religion ~ The Way of Connection
"In my introduction to religion courses I ask my students to invent their own religions. They form groups and dream up new religions. They then pitch their religious creations online and in class" (p. 203).7. Judaism ~ The Way of Exile and Return
"Judaism begins and ends with a story. If Christianity is to a great extent about doctrine and Islam about ritual, Judaism is about narrative. To be a Jew is to tell and retell a story and to wrestle with its key symbols: the character of God, the people of Israel, and the vexed relationship between the two" (p. 243).8. Daoism ~ The Way of Flourishing
"Modern life is purpose-driven. Though much of it is conducted in an office chair, it is nonetheless about speed and efficiency — 'galloping by sitting.' Wandering, by contrast, is slow, unproductive, and open to surprises" (p. 279).9. Atheism ~ The Way of Reason
"Atheism is not a great religion. It has always been for elites rather than ordinary folk. And until the twentieth century, its influence on world history was as nonexistent as Woody Allen's god" (p.17).Do any of these chapters draw you in? I'm intrigued by how he starts the chapter on Yoruba Religion, about which I know nothing, even though I taught religions of the world at Chattanooga State as an adjunct for about a decade. I read enough of that chapter just now to tell you that some of Prothero's students came up with a religion remarkably like the Yoruba religion. Now I'm really curious.
Gilion at Rose City Reader hosts Book Beginnings on Fridays. Click here for today's Mister Linky.