Hi Readers,

I think I’m going to change up how and what I blog. My goal, at present, is to post once a month. I’m not entirely sure how it is going to work yet, but I guess that is the beauty of figuring things out. Which is where I bring you to this book, God is Not One: The Eight Rival Religions that Run the World–and Why Their Differences Matter by Stephen Prothero.

God is Not One was incredibly informative and gave me a better insight into religion than my Religious Studies professor did when I was in college–but I guess he had to “guide” us in the direction of Christianity because that’s what he believes–ANYWAY. At times, Prothero was obviously giving his opinion about a certain topic, but for the most part, I felt he was able to stay impartial.

He introduces each religion as the “Way of…” This method, without having to read further, immediately tells the reader that all religions are different. Who knew? Prothero titles them:

Islam: The Way of Submission
Christianity: The Way of Salvation
Confucianism: The Way of Propriety
Hinduism: The Way of Devotion
Buddhism: The Way of Awakening
Yoruba Religion: The Way of Connection
Judaism: The Way of Exile and Return
Daoism: The Way of Flourishing
Atheism: The Way of Reason

While incredibly simplistic, his “four part approach” for each religion states:

a problem;
a solution to this problem, which also serves as the religious goal;
a technique (or techniques) for moving from this problem to this solution; and
an exemplar (or exemplars) who chart this path from problem to solution (14).

He uses Christianity and Buddhism as his examples.

I really enjoyed reading this book. It took nearly six months to finish… but what can I say, life happens. If you want to get a basic understanding of “the world’s major religions” this is the book to read. Also, he acknowledges he doesn’t discuss religions such as: “Shinto, Jainism, Zoroastrianism, Wicca, Baha’i, Rastafarianism, Scientology, and Sikhism,” simply because he was ranking the mass of the religion by number of followers. Overall, I am giving God is Not One a 5/5. Some parts were dry, but Prothero has a way of writing that helps people understand what exactly it is that they’re reading.

Favorite quotations:

“The ideal of religious tolerance has morphed into the straitjacket of religious agreement” (4).

“Unfortunately, we live in a world where religion seems as likely to detonate a bomb as to defuse one. So while we need idealism, we need realism even more. We need to understand religious people as they are–not just at their best but also at their worst. We need to look  at not only their awe-inspiring architecture and gentle mystics but also their bigots and suicide bombers” (7).

“You don’t have to believe in God to want to understand how beliefs in God have transformed individuals and societies from ancient Israel to contemporary China” (15).

“After 9/11 and the Holocaust, we need to see the world’s religions as they really are–in all their gore and glory. This includes seeing where they agree and disagree, and not turning a blind eye to their failings” (17).

“Religious Studies scholars are rarely honest enough to admit this in person, much less in print, but we all know there are things that each of the world’s religions do well, and things they do poorly” (20).

“…just as hitting home runs is the monopoly of one sport, salvation is the monopoly of one religion” (22).

If you read this, I hope you enjoy it.

Always,
Nolaleigh

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