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In This Section:
I. Author Bio
II. Author Letter
I. Author Bio
Mary Pat Fisher writes about all religions, not only from academic research, but also from her experiences with religions around the world. Much of her knowledge comes from the unique interfaith community in India, Gobind Sadan, where she has lived since 1991. In addition to eight editions of Living Religions, she has written other textbooks about religions and also about art. "Religion is not a museum piece. Religion is a vibrant force in the lives of many people around the world, and many religions are presently experiencing a renaissance." - Mary Pat Fisher
II. Author Letter
I am very happy to have had the chance to prepare a third edition of Living Religions: A Brief Introduction, for even though the eternal values embedded in religions remain the same, the social and historical circumstances surrounding them as well as the scholarship pertaining to them are changing rapidly. To update the text I’ve taken the help of many reviewers and a new team of excellent special consultants from a variety of academic institutions. I’ve also continued to travel, speak with, and worship with people of all faiths around the world, including the continual flow of people of all religions through our Gobind Sadan Institute for Advanced Studies in Comparative Religion in New Delhi. In this unique interfaith, international community I am privileged to meet scholars of all traditions and to live among Russian Orthodox and Protestant Christians, Tibetan Buddhist nuns, Muslims, Sikhs, and Hindus.
This edition includes perspectives gleaned from another visit to China, where I met Daoist nuns, Christian pastors, and the national leaders of thriving Buddhist organizations.
In Turkey, I witnessed the revival of religious interest but also the contemporary tensions between religious beliefs and the government’s officially secular policy. Muslim friends took me to the well-preserved ruins of Ephesus, and the grotto nearby where Mary, mother of Jesus, is believed to have been brought by John the Beloved Disciple to live her last years.
Religions are so lively today that there is much to share. This new edition therefore includes new material on the encounter between science and religion, the impact of globalization on indigenous religions and more material on African religions as well as the "Great Reversal" in Christianity. It includes increased coverage of Buddhism in China, the latest in academic debates about the Indus Valley Civilization and the origin of the Vedas. There is more on socially engaged Buddhism, the latest scholarship on organized and folk Daoism in China and the interactions between Shinto, Buddhist, and Confucian ways in Japan as well as updated material on contemporary Israel.
I have extensively revised the chapter on Christianity using new historical and biblical scholarship and more coverage of developing trends such as Evangelicalism and Pentecostalism. Looking deeper into the past as well as the present, I have revised the text on pre-Islamic Arabia, Islam in the West, and Islam in politics and offered a new feature box on the courageous Nobel Prize winner Shirin Ebadi of Iran. Among the many changes in the chapter on new religious movements I’ve developed a section on the recently deceased charismatic leader Sathya Sai Baba and prepared a new interview box featuring a German practitioner of Transcendental Meditation. New material in the last chapter includes expanded discussions of globalization, secularism, and religions’ engagement with social issues.
I hope that your students will find this new edition of Living Religions: A Brief Introduction accurate, informative, and thought-provoking, and that it will increase their awareness and appreciation of all religions, including their own.
Mary Pat Fisher
Gobind Sadan Institute for Advanced Studies in Comparative Religion, New Delhi
Table of Contents
Chapter 1: Religious Responses
Chapter 2: Indigenous Sacred Ways
Chapter 3: Hinduism
Chapter 4: Jainism
Chapter 5: Buddhism
Chapter 6: Daoism and Confucianism
Chapter 7: Shinto and Zoroastrianism
Chapter 8: Judaism
Chapter 9: Christianity
Chapter 10: Islam
Chapter 11: Sikhism
Chapter 12: Religion in a New Era