Religious views, standpoints and beliefs have been an important part of society and politics for centuries. No matter which sector the specific beliefs — or lack there of — are from, people take great pride and comfort in their religions and deities. As we get ready to honor December’s Spiritual Literacy Month, we at Questia, the premier online research and paper-writing tool for students, have gathered the top five most researched books on spirituality and opened them up for free reading through the month of December! Enjoy!
With a plethora of varying theologies, it’s interesting to analyze how the different religions view their counterparts. A popular model of theology of religion known as relativizing pluralism maintains that all religions are simply many paths all leading to one and the same goal. In other words, this theory suggests that there is no essential difference between the varying religions. However, there are flaws with this theory, most notably that “the refusal or failure on the part of relativist pluralism to recognize genuine religious differences and uniqueness constitutes a refusal and failure to take people of other faiths and their religions seriously,” (Gort, Jansen & Vroom 3). [Gort, Jerald D., Henry Jansen, and Hendrik M. Vroom, eds. Religions View Religions: Explorations in Pursuit of Understanding. Amsterdam: Rodopi, 2006. Questia.]
It may appear that religions are spatially defined. For example, Buddhism is local to China, the Middle East represents Islam and Christianity reigns over Europe and the Western Hemisphere. However, while roots may be traced back to certain locations, it has never actually been like that and religions are in fact global. Over the course of time religions have moved, shifted and interacted with other religions around the globe. “Religion is global in that it is related to the global transportation of peoples and the transnational acceptance of religious ideas,” (Juergensmeyer 5). In addition, religion is global in a third way, in which forms of new religion emerge as expressions of new interactive cultures. [Juergensmeyer, Mark, ed. Global Religions: An Introduction. New York: Oxford UP, 2003.Questia.]
Religions have been crucial to society for thousands of years, and throughout the years, ancient peoples were exposed to a diversity of religions. Most notably, religious beliefs and practices were transmitted throughout the Mediterranean as people journeyed from one place to the next selling skills as healers, purifiers, cursers and initiators. The transmission of goods and beliefs resulted in the acknowledgment of similarities across religions and changes to each religion that occurred as travels continued. [Johnston, Sarah Iles, ed. Religions of the Ancient World: A Guide. Cambridge, MA: Belknap, 2004. Questia.]
With globalization, politics and secularization, religion in the modern world has transformed greatly. There have been examples of religious actors with political goals touring third world countries, where religious beliefs are the top of publicly expressed sociopolitical concerns. On the other hand, in recent years the interaction of church and state has continued to be a stressed point in American politics and the lines are being drawn more clearly. [Woodhead, Linda, Paul Fletcher, Hiroko Kawanami, and David Smith, eds. Religions in the Modern World: Traditions and Transformations. London: Routledge, 2002. Questia.]
The spirituality revolution is defined as “a spontaneous movement in society, a new interest in the reality of spirit and its healing effects on life, health, community and well-being,”(Tacey 1). As a continuously changing society, ideal values and beliefs that existed have seemingly become outdated. The spirituality revolution revises concepts of life, society and progress and intertwines new discoveries in physics, biology, psychology and ecology that restores dignity to previously discredited spiritual visions of reality. [Tacey, David. The Spirituality Revolution: The Emergence of Contemporary Spirituality. Hove, England: Brunner-Routledge, 2004. Questia.]
For further research on spiritual literacy, visit Questia! What other interesting reads would you recommend for Spiritual Literacy Month?