Religions of the World

If you're interested in learning about some of the major religions of the world, here is a sampling of introductory works. This list obviously does not and cannot cover all the world's religions; we just hope to arouse your interest.

World Religions in America: An Introduction

By Jacob Neusner, editor

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The textbook for high school or undergraduate courses was first published in 1994 and is revised here from the 2003 edition with new chapters on the Unification Church, New Thought, and women and religion in America. Previous material also been updated and rearranged into a more logical sequence of topics; timelines of important events and people have been added; and sidebars now describe key movements or controversies, contain personal accounts of believers, and cite print and electronic sources for further study. Contributors identified only by name cover Christian foundations, other Middle Eastern monotheistic traditions, recent arrivals from Asia, religions made or adapted in the US, and issues in American religion.

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What Christians Really Believe--And Why

By Stanley J. Grenz

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In this book, the author presents the central tenets of the Christian faith clearly and concisely, answering the most commonly-asked questions: Why believe at all? Which God? Who is Jesus and what did he do? What am I searching for?
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To Life! A Celebration of Jewish Being and Thinking

By Harold Kushner

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Examines such key aspects of Judaism as the meaning of the Jewish holidays, how Jews regard Israel, and Jewish beliefs about God and human nature. By the author of When Bad Things Happen to Good People.

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The World's Religions

By Huston Smith

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"Huston Smith's masterpiece explores the essential elements and teachings of the world's predominant faiths, including Hinduism, Buddhism, Confucianism, Taoism, Judaism, Christianity, Islam, and the native traditions of Australia, Africa, Oceania, and the Americas. Emphasizing the inner--rather than the institutional--dimension of these religions, Smith devotes special attention to Zen and Tibetan Buddhism, Sufism, and the teachings of Jesus. He convincingly conveys the unique appeal and gifts of each of the traditions and reveals their hold on the human heart and imagination."

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Essential Judaism: A Complete Guide to Beliefs, Customs, and Rituals

By George Robinson

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"This is a guide which tells you everything you need to know about being Jewish in a user-friendly way. It explains what Jews do, what they believe and why. The guide answers such questions as - What happens at a synagogue service? What do the prayers and rituals mean? What is the Jewish calendar? and many more. Looking at birth and circumcision, bar/bat mitzvahs, weddings and mourning, this guide illuminates the Jewish life cycle at every stage."

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The Complete Idiot's Guide to Understanding Islam

By Yahiha Emerick

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The book offers tips on Muslim culture, actual quotes from the Qur'an, the Prophet Muhammad, and prominent scholars, and answers to questions regarding everyday life from the Muslim perspective.
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Catholic Q & A: Answers to the Most Common Questions about Catholicism

By John J. Dietzen

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"In this question and answer compendium, topics encompassing many aspects of Catholic religious, practical, and moral life are discussed, including the Bible, the Mass and sacraments, divorce and remarriage, saints, attitudes toward other religions, and end of life issues. Since shortly after Vatican Council II, Father John J. Dietzen has been addressing questions about Catholicism in his weekly columns; these authoritative, comprehensive, and up to date answers about Catholic belief and life will inform and challenge practicing and lapsed Catholics, curious Christians, and others who wish to learn more about the Roman Catholic faith.

"Written in an engaging and warm pastoral style, this comprehensive reference avoids tedium while conveying concise information and covers many situations that are not addressed in the traditional Catechism. Areas where church teaching is silent are explored, and official church positions are explained in plain language. Hundreds of questions are drawn from years of ministry and counseling, while new queries have been added to address current trends and issues."

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The Story of Buddhism: A Concise Guide to its History and Teachings

By Donald S. Lopez, Jr.

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Buddhist scholar Donald S. Lopez Jr. offers an account that demystifies Buddhism and explains its practices, teachings, and schools.
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Buddhism

By Madhu Bazaz Wangu

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Tells the story of Buddhism's origins and its development into three major schools of thought, and presents the particular beliefs and practices of those schools of Buddhism that still flourish today.
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Listening For the Heartbeat of God: A Celtic Spirituality

By J. Philip Newell

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"This overview of Celtic spirituality goes far beyond New Age considerations and even beyond the usual look at Irish saints. Instead Newell, former Warden of Scotland's Iona Community, explains Celtic spirituality itself -- its theology, its history, how it was overshadowed by the Roman sense of church, and how it has resurfaced as a deep, rich, vibrant way of life."

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