This book offers the most original and provocativerecasting of the comparative study of religion in decades, andit s aimed just where we need this rethinking the most: theclassroom. Other textbooks tend to work with a checklist ofsubjects as they summon the major religions serially to the stage.Kripal starts instead with the mystery of the comparative actitself, allowing that to determine what he brings forward for ourattention. So it s charisma, sex, the paranormal, and soul practices more than it s Hinduism,Buddhism, Islam. Kripal recognizes the comparativist in each of usand urges us to take it seriously. The result is deep and wide, andexcitingly open–minded.
John Stratton Hawley, Barnard College, ColumbiaUniversity
Armed with an extensive array of case studies and arichly diverse portfolio of illustrations, Kripal not only providesa lucid survey of the facts of the world sreligions, but inspires us to embrace the fundamentallytranscendent nature of the religious experience in all of itsmanifestations, both ordinary and uncanny, and to confront theinherent challenges of studying religion in a responsiblycomparative manner. Comparing Religions is a masterlyexample of how a book intended for the classroom can be aninvigorating stimulus toward new ways of thinking about aphenomenon that pervades every aspect of our world.
Sarah Iles Johnston, The Ohio State University
Kripal is at his very best in this exceptionalintroduction to the study of religion. After a self–reflexivejourney through the religious realms of myth, ritual, nature,science, sex, charisma, soul, salvation, and the imagination andits paranormal powers, we are guided to put it all back togetherwith an eye to religious tolerance, freedom, and pluralism. Thisbook is the red pill. Ingest it and you will beenlightened.
April D. DeConick, Rice University
Comparing Religions is a lucid, entertaining, andeven fun introduction to the comparative study of religion. It willbe effective with its target audience, young people and theundergraduate classroom, because, while they must wrestle with theway scholars deconstruct and reduce to social or evolutionaryfunctions such phenomena, Kripal never loses sight of theexperiences and meanings of those transformed by, engaged in, andmobilized through it. There is no better single volume to enticestudents into the fraught and fascinating study ofreligion.
Bron Taylor, author of Dark Green Religion: NatureSpirituality and the Planetary Future and editor of TheEncyclopedia of Religion and Nature
Jeffrey Kripal provides a thoughtful and compellingdiscussion of key themes, ideas, and challenges that ground thestudy of religion across traditions and geographies. It is alayered and textured treatment that will capture the imaginationand engage students from start to finish. This important and timelytext is not to be missed.
Anthony B. Pinn, author of Introducing African AmericanReligion