Using an engaging, thought-provoking style, Lester R. Kurtz focuses on the relationship among the major faith traditions that inform the thinking and ethical standards of most people in the emerging global social order. This book focuses on a central aspect of that common crisis. A major assumption of this book is that all knowledge is shaped by the social context of the knower; therefore, both religious traditions and our studies of them are shaped by the context in which we construct them. The author argues that religious pluralism will be a necessary precondition of the global village for the foreseeable future. The question that faces us as a human community is not 'Which religious tradition is true?' or even 'Is any religious tradition true?' but rather 'How can we enable the various religious and secular traditions to coexist peacefully on the planet?'
The text supports the belief that the sociology of religion - itself a pluralistic discipline - can provide invaluable insight into the most pressing problems of our time.
New To This Edition:
• a new chapter (Chapter 4) on indigenous religions
• a new section on Sikhism in Chapter 2
• a new section of religion and sexuality in Chapter 5
• a new section on homosexuality
• a new section on Islamic condemnations of terrorism in Chapter 8
• updated data, statistics, examples, and tables/figures throughout
• explores religious life in today’s world: This book introduces students to the fundamentals of each of the major world religions: Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam and considers the various global interconnections among beliefs and believers, as well as among those who oppose them. The author offers a comparative study of the world’s religions, including personal reflection upon the time he spent living in India and China that further shaped his own beliefs.
• challenges students to overcome biases: This book assumes that all knowledge is shaped by the social context of the knower; therefore, both religious traditions and our studies of them are shaped by the context in which we construct them. The question that faces us as a human community is not "Which religious tradition is true?" but "How can we enable the various religious and secular traditions to coexist peacefully?"
• reexamines conventional understandings about the role of religion: The sociology of religion provides invaluable insight into the most pressing social problems. This book does not suggest sociologists should lead the way in solving these problems, rather it encourages them to assess the role of religion in the global community and become involved in the lively debates about the future of humanity.