Experiencing the World's Religions: Tradition, Challenge, and Change with PowerWeb: World Religions

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  • Edition: 3rd
  • Format: Paperback
  • Copyright: 2004-06-28
  • Publisher: McGraw-Hill Humanities/Social Sciences/Languages
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This leading seller successfully addresses what a person should know about religions, and why. In an exceptionally clear and compelling account of the teaching of the world's religions, the text goes beyond traditional approaches to personally connect students with the vitality of the great religions. The third edition has been thoroughly updated in both content and illustration, to address recent world events.

Author Biography

Appreciation for religion was programmed into me when I was young--before I had any chance to resist its fascination. My grandmothers were my first teachers. When my mother's mother was 19 she went to Paris to study painting and to experience cultural life there. She stayed in Paris for two years, and it was a turning point in her life. She returned home to create paintings, which surrounded me as I grew up in Los Angeles. She also returned with hundreds of photographs of religious statues, paintings, and other objects, as well as a thirst to take her grandchildren to museums and churches. My other grandmother was a choir director, and I remember many hours spent in the choir loft, which vibrated from the pedal notes of the organ music. It was through art and music that I discovered the richness of religion. Early experiences like these led me to leave the country after college in order to see the world, and my travels made me recognize how much people and their cultures are shaped by religions. When I returned, I studied religion formally. My MA degree (at St. John's University) allowed me to study the images of darkness in Jewish and Christian mystical literature. I received a scholarship from the East-West Center in Hawai`i, and in Hawai`i my life began to be influenced by the thought of Asia. For my Ph.D. (at the University of Hawai`i) I wrote on the Hindu and Buddhist mysticism to be found in the writings of Aldous Huxley. I had the pleasure of meeting Huxley's wife Laura in Los Angeles, interviewing people who knew him, and reading his original manuscripts at UCLA. I did graduate work at Banaras Hindu University, and later studied traditional Japanese arts--including kendo, tea ceremony, ceramics, and calligraphy--in Kyoto. I have practiced meditation at Christian and Buddhist monasteries in Asia, Europe, and the United States. I am currently writing a book for McGraw-Hill on Christianity. I live in Honolulu.

Table of Contents

1. Understanding Religion

Why is there Religion?

Patterns Among Religions

Multidisciplinary Approaches to the Study of Religion

Key Critical Questions

Why Study the Major Religions of the World?

The Pilgrimage

2. Oral Religions

Discovering Oral Religions

Studying Oral Religions: Learning from Patterns

Sacred Practices in Oral Religions

Oral Religions Today

3. Hinduism

The Origins of Hinduism

The Upanishads and the Axis Age

Living Spiritually in the Everyday World

Devotional Hinduism

Hinduism and the Arts

Hinduism: Modern Challenges

4. Buddhism

The Beginnings of Buddhism: The Life of the Buddha

The Basic Teachings of Buddhism

The Influence of Indian Thought on Early Buddhist Teachings

The Early Development of Buddhism

Theravada Buddhism: The Way of the Elders

Mahayana Buddhism: The "Big Vehicle"

Zen Buddhism: Enlightenment Through Experience

Vajrayana Buddhism: The "Diamond Vehicle"

Buddhism, the West, and Modern Challenges

5. Jainism and Sikhism

Shared Origins



Mahavira and the Origins of Jainism


Jain Ethics

The Development of Jainism and Its Branches

Jain Practices

Jain Scriptures

Jain Art and Architecture



Nanak and the Origins of Sikhism

The Worldview and Teachings of Nanak

The Development of Sikhism

Sikh Scriptures

Sikhism and the Modern World

6. Taoism and Confucianism

Basic Elements of Traditional Chinese Beliefs


The Origins of Philosophical Taoism

The Basic Teachings of Philosophical Taoism

Taoism and the Quest for Longevity

Religious Taoism

Taoism and the Arts

Taoism and the Modern World


The Tao in Confucianism

The Life of Confucius

Living According to Confucian Values

Confucian Literature

The Development of Confucianism

Confucianism and the Arts

Confucianism and the Modern World

7. Shinto

The Origins of Shinto

The Historical Development of Shinto

Essentials of Shinto Belief

Shinto Religious Practice

Shinto and the Arts

Shinto Offshoots: The New Religions

Shinto and the Modern World

8. Judaism

An Overview of Jewish History

The Hebrew Bible

Biblical History

Cultural Conflict during the Second-Temple Era

The Development of Rabbinical Judaism

Questioning and Reform

Judaism and the Modern World

Jewish Belief

Religious Practice

Divisions within Contemporary Judaism

The Contributions of Judaism

Jewish Identity and the Future of Judaism

9. Christianity

The Life and Teachings of Jesus

Early Christian Beliefs and History

The Essential Christian Worldview

The Early Spread of Christianity

Influences on Christianity at the End of the Roman Empire

The Eastern Orthodox Church

Christianity in the Middle Ages

The Protestant Reformation

The Development of Christianity Following the Protestant Reformation

Christian Practice

Christianity and the Arts

Christianity Faces the Modern World

10. Islam

The Life and Teachings of Muhammad

Essentials of Islam

The Historical Development of Islam

Sufism: Islamic Mysticism

Islamic Law and Philosophy

Islam and the Arts

Islam and the Modern World

11. Alternative Paths

Origins of New Religions

Neo-Paganism: Wicca and Druidism

Religions of the Yoruba Tradition: Santería, Voodoo, and Candomblé



Falun Gong

Cao Dai



New Religious Movements: A Special Role

12. The Religious Search in the Modern World

Modern Influences on the Future of Religion

The Recurring Challenge of Change

Naturism: A New Religious Phenomenon?

Eclectic Spirituality




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