Sunday, May 02, 2010

Review: God Is Not One

I grew up in a predominately Methodist family but over time lost the beliefs of my childhood religion, realizing that my own opinions didn't really align with what I was hearing in church every Sunday morning.  I quit attending and have never really found my way back to my religion. What I have done over the years, is open my mind up to learning and appreciating other religions. A few months ago when offered the opportunity to review the book God Is Not One by Stephen Prothero, I quickly agreed.

Prothero's book is based on the premise that contrary to popular belief religions are not the same, they all don't embrace the same god or converge on a mountain top from different paths, and those difference's do indeed matter. He states that its important for us to have a certain "religious literacy" about the various world religions in order to better understand our own beliefs, the beliefs and ideologies of our friends, and to develop a greater appreciation for the world around us. The author also offers that as individuals, many of us struggle with our own beliefs and may often be left wondering where we fall within the religious spectrum.

The book discusses the eight main religions of the world: Islam, Christianity, Confucianism, Hinduism, Buddhism, Yourba Religion, Judaism, and Daoism in an enlightening way that allows the reader to understand the history behind the religion and the main beliefs. I've read various other religion books often walking away unable to comprehend the main basis of the religion, not the case at all with this book. While some chapters (Hinduism in particular, lots of gods to keep straight) were more complex than others, they were easy to comprehend. Personally, I envision myself returning to this book time and time again as a reference.

If you are the least bit curious about world religions I highly recommend reading this book. The author doesn't try to change your mind about your own faith but rather educate you about other beliefs and practices. Its typical of people to avoid religious discussions. People don't want to be challenged or have to defend their faith. People aren't sure how to express their ideas or beliefs or don't know enough about religions other than their own to engage in a discussion.  

God is Not One  is about acknowledging and accepting the differences, broadening your understanding, and in the end having a greater respect and appreciation of the world religions and perhaps, having that religious conversation instead of shying away from it.

As someone who has often questioned where her beliefs fit in, I really appreciated this book and the insights it provided.

You can learn more about God Is Not One by watching this trailer and visiting the author's site.

Disclosure: I was provided a copy of  this book by the author and TLC Book Tours for review. Many thanks to Trish Collins for giving me the opportunity to be a part of this virtual book tour.