3 out of 4 stars
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20 World Religions & Faith Practices Volume 1 by Robyn Lebron appealed to me because I am interested in learning about different religions and finding the ways they overlap and complement each other. I was intrigued by the author’s stated purpose of seeking peace through understanding.
The book begins with an explanation of how it was organized. The author chose religions with a large following as well as those that were misunderstood by outsiders. She wanted to create a resource for seekers and increase understanding between these groups. The faiths are grouped according to origins such as Eastern and Nature-based. Each religion is given one chapter in which the same topics are used. These include history, gods, and basic doctrine. The author also includes timelines, maps, and charts to compare the various belief systems.
I liked how the author was able to encapsulate the core of each religion in such a relatively small space. I felt like I had a clear picture of their beliefs and practices. She occasionally used vocabulary that needed defining such as venial sins in the chapter on the Roman Catholic church. On the other hand, she did a great job of explaining other complex theological topics such as the hypostatic union of Christ in a way that is understandable to the common person.
I also found myself meditating on some of the insights in various chapters such as the Presbyterian idea that music is a form of prayer or the Hindu concept that God manifests himself in different ways with different names to different people, but all their prayers and worship are leading to the same Supreme Being. I also had to respect that atheism was included as one of the twenty featured belief systems.
There was very little that I disliked about the book. There were a couple of small examples of bias where she would call one religion great or another profound. However, most of the time, all judgment was suspended in favor of a factual overview. I do question the author’s decision to make Christ one of the topics of comparison. This seems to be a Christian-centered way of looking at other religions. However, most religions do have an opinion about Jesus, so those sections of each chapter had value. Lastly, there were some serious editing issues, mostly with spacing. Words were often broken apart by a space or smashed together where space was needed. This was very distracting when trying to read.
This book is a great resource for anyone seeking to understand various religions or to find a religion that speaks to their heart. I highly recommend it based on the clear and extensive explanations of different faiths. I wish I could give it 4 stars, but due to the editing issues, I can only score the book as 3 out of 4 stars.
20 World Religions and Faith Practices
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