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A Spectator's Guide to World Religions: An Introduction to the Big Five (Spectator's Guides) Paperback – 18 Apr 2008


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Product details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Lion Books (18 April 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0745953085
  • ISBN-13: 978-0745953083
  • Product Dimensions: 14 x 1.5 x 21.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,164,421 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Review

"This is a wonderful book and is highly recommended." --"Publishers Weekly"

About the Author

John Dickson i s an historian, musician and bestselling author. He is an Honorary Associate in the Department of Ancient History, Macquarie University (Sydney) where he also teaches a course on world religions. He lives in Sydney with his family and spends his time researching, writing and speaking about life's big questions.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Mark Loughridge VINE VOICE on 9 Mar. 2008
Format: Paperback
(This is a review of the Australian version of the book published by Blue Bottle Books)

What do you know about Buddhism - the current religion of choice for those interested in choosing a new religion? What do you know about Hinduism, or Islam, or Judaism?

John Dickson, known to many as the author of `A Sneaking Suspicion', `Hanging in there', and `Stranger than Fiction', sets out to guide us through the various beliefs of the `big five' of world religions. He seeks to do so from a spectator's perspective rather than a critiquing perspective - an idea that is both useful and frustrating. His rationale is as follows:

"... Imagine yourself as an art curator who is convinced that one piece in his collection has an unequalled quality. What will you do? Will you dim the lights on the 'competitors' in the gallery and put spotlights on your favourite piece? Of course not. That would be a sure sign you were not actually convinced about the special beauty of your treasured masterpiece."

And so he sets out to give an unbiased description of each religion in such a way that assumes no prior knowledge.

In this regard he succeeds, setting out clearly and simply what each believes. One of its strengths is that Dickson doesn't seek to analyse each through a particular grid as many other writers tend to. He doesn't ask, "What does Buddhism teach about sin?" or "How do Hindus understand forgiveness?" which would be largely meaningless. He says:

"I've often wondered what it would look like if an author set out to describe Christianity from the perspective of the Buddhist concepts of 'Self', karma and rebirth. I imagine Christianity would look rather thin.
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This is such a fun and easy read. I wish that I had read it earlier in life. John Dickson is clear and has an easy reading (notably Australian) style. The book is interesting and serves as a good introduction to the topic.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 1 review
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Brief, thoughtful and sympathetic 28 Oct. 2009
By unkleE - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
This book is exactly what it claims to be - an introduction to the "big five" religions in the world (Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Judaism and Islam - though strictly speaking Judaism is not the fifth largest). John Dickson is a christian but he makes it clear from the start that he is not writing a book that pushes the claims of the religion he believes in, but fairly presents the teachings of each religion without comment. I think he succeeds in being fair. He seems to have a genuine interest in the teachings and history of each religion (he is a well-qualified historian) and is able to outline the essence of each one without overwhelming with facts and figures.

Recommended as a good start for anyone who wants to understand these religions.
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