Editor’s Picks: World Religions

We’re feeling inspired by the Papal visit to Philadelphia this weekend! Below, you’ll find books on all types of world religions, including Catholicism, Islam, Hinduism, Native American traditions, pagan traditions, and more.

As a special feature, the first book on this list is 3 Days in September, a compilation of recollections from Pope John Paul II’s 1979 visit to Ireland.


3 Days in September
9780954533540Leading figures from the worlds of politics, entertainment, religion and the arts contribute their recollections of – and reflections on – the papal visit in September 1979. Many of those who were personally or professionally involved in the visit offer their impressions of those unforgettable three days. The Pope’s visit to Ireland in September 1979 attracted more excitement and interest than any concert or sporting event ever before – or since. Nearly everybody it seems, believer and non-believer alike, recalls what truly was a national event. More than a million people turned out to greet John Paul II at Phoenix Park, in the largest single gathering of people in Europe in modern times. Tens of thousands of young people heard him say the famous words ‘Young people of Ireland, I love you’ at the Youth Mass in Galway, and large crowds gathered when the Pope visited Drogheda, Clonmacnoise, Maynooth, Knock and Limerick. In fact, the visit could be said to mark a high-point in the history of the Catholic Church in Ireland. Who would have, or could have, predicted the changes in Irish society and in the position of the majority church that the intervening decades would bring? 3 Days In September is a handsome hardback collection of people’s memories of the visit accompanied by (over a hundred) both color and black and white photographs from the various gatherings and venues the Pope attended. The book features an introduction by well-known cultural commentator Mary Kenny. The contributions range from the polemical (Frank McGuinness) to the personal (the flower girl Liz Jackson, now in her thirties), from the nostalgic (Maeve Binchy) to new interpretations (Tim Pat Coogan). The book is sure, given the Pope’s passing, to generate interest and perhaps controversy – as well as take us back to what, it seemed at the time, were more innocent days. The royalties from the book go to the Simon Community of Ireland.
Buy it here $53.95

The Synogogues of Central and Western Pennsylvania
9781625450593Pennsylvania has one of the largest and oldest organized Jewish Communities communities in the United States. Jews of Sephardic origin settled in what was to become the “Keystone State” in the early eighteenth century, though there were some Jewish traders in the area during the latter part of the seventeenth century. Jews began trading and residing in the areas of Central and Western Pennsylvania in the early years of the nineteenth century, and as their numbers increased, they began establishing burial societies and synagogues. The early Jewish settlers were mostly of German origin and were joined later by Jews of Central and Eastern European background. Chambersburg, Danville, Hanover, Harrisburg, Pittsburgh and Uniontown were among the early areas of Jewish settlement. In 1840, a Jewish burial society was established in Chambersburg in Central Pennsylvania, making it the first official Jewish organization established outside of Philadelphia. Congregation Rodef Shalom in Pittsburgh traces its initial beginnings to a Jewish burial society established there in 1847. There is a wealth of history and an extensive physical record of Jewish settlement throughout Central and Western Pennsylvania. Growing Jewish Communities established congregations, cemeteries, and social organizations, building their synagogues as a testament to their faith and community. Take a visual journey and discover a unique portion of Pennsylvania’s ethnic and religious history.
Buy it here $19.95

An Intelligent Person’s Guide to Religion
9780715628676We live, allegedly, in a postmodern age in which we have cast aside the narrative fantasies of the pre-modern era. If postmodernism represents the final abandonment of all grand theories, where does religion stand? If religion is a particularly unbelievable form of explanation, why does it power still affect social and political change? Here, like the skeptics of our age, the author asks, What has theology ever had to say that was of the slightest use to anyone? He argues that religion without God is like a car without an engine, and draws on many aspects of human culture to offer a defense of religion that is not only credible but necessary in an age when postmodernism itself has been exposed as a cruel illusion.
Buy it here $5.00

Unfolding Islam
9781859642054Thoroughly revised in the light of the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks and the subsequent climate of fear and hostility towards Muslims, this new edition of the acclaimed Unfolding Islam sets out to present Islam to non-Muslim readers, and to describe for the general reader – whether Muslim or not – how Islam has unfolded over the course of time, and how it continues to do so. Set in the context of the geography and history of what may be called the super-continent of Afro- Eurasia, the book centers on the Koran and the life of the Prophet Muhammad and his companions, showing how later developments are rooted there, right down to questions of contemporary relevance such as the difference between Sunni Muslims and Shiites, Sufis and literalists, reformists and ‘fundamentalists’. Though the book is written with the non-specialist in mind, specialists will find new contributions to such topics as the first writing down of the Koran, jihad (holy war) and Islamic attitudes to our environment. Seen as a whole, the story of the unfolding of Islam shows how it has achieved its special balance of constancy and flexibility. The controlling position of the Prophet, the unique authority of the Koran and the strength of the Muslim family give the religion its enduring central core.
Buy it here $34.95

God & Apple Pie
9781891928154With an introduction by J. Gordon Melton (Distinguished Professor of American Religious History, Baylor University), God & Apple Pie: Religious Myths and Visions of America, (revised edition) by Christopher Buck, is about an unusual religious topic: the United States of America.
“America” is, at once, nation and notion, country and creed, republic and rhetoric. This book is about Providence and principle — the relationship of the supernatural world to the world’s superpower. “America” is not in the Bible, nor in the Qur’an. Yet “America” today pulsates with religious significance. “America” is a word that has taken on mythic proportions.
Eleven religions have been selected for their distinctive perspectives on America: (1) Native American religion (Iroquois); (2) Protestant Christianity (the Puritans); (3) the Christian Right; (4) Roman Catholicism; (5) Judaism (Orthodox, Conservative, Reform, and Reconstructionist); (6) The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (the Mormons); (7) Christian Identity (White nationalists); (8) Nation of Islam (Black nationalists); (9) Islam (especially Radical Islamists and Progressive Muslims); (10) Buddhism (Tibetan and Soka Gakkai); and (11) the Baha’i Faith.
Over the course of American history, religious myths and visions of America tend to reflect an ever-changing American civil society, whether as a function of its social evolution or as a catalyst of it. The result is: Religions re-mythologize America. And: Religions re-envision America.
Buy it here $39.95

Brahma Dreaming
9780956921284Brahma Dreaming is master storyteller John Jackson’s latest collaboration with the acclaimed artist, Daniela Jaglenka Terrazzini. John’s intriguing versions of the tales of the Hindus’ great gods are graced by Daniela’s brilliantly reimagined illustrations of the deities, each a masterpiece of detail and drama, reminiscent of Dulac and Rackham, and the glorious ‘Golden Age.’ These are the tales of the Trimurti – the Hindu trinity of Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva – and Brahma Dreaming is divided into three sections representing their continuous forces of creation, preservation and destruction. The work begins with Lord Brahma dreaming the universe into being and from there unfolds an enthralling collection of interconnected tales that span the entire spectrum of human experience, dark illusions and earthly temptations. Here are brave princes, divine divas and demon kings, family feuds and epic battles, burning loves and lies, tragic deaths and glorious rebirths. There are tales about dancing elephants, peacock warriors and monkey armies, all retold by Jackson with great character, warmth and wit. Jackson’s collaborator, artist Daniela Jaglenka Terrazzini, has been inspired to create what she describes as the best work of her career in Brahma Dreaming with over fifty exquisite fonts and illustrations hand-drawn in black ink. These are the Hindu gods and goddesses as they have never been seen before! Brahma Dreaming has been crafted using the same methods and attention to detail used to create the earliest illustrated gift books from the turn of the twentieth century and the result is itself a work of art. With a distinctive black dust jacket, Brahma Dreaming is finished in black laminate with orange varnish details. Underneath the black cloth cover is a fully illustrated front and back with foil stamping and debossing, also in black and orange. It features elaborate endpapers and is completed with a tangerine ribbon marker.
Buy it here $38.95

Modern Witchcraft
9781781550908Since the rise of Christianity, and largely because of it, Witchcraft, or the Old Religion, has been utterly misunderstood. Wrongly accused of devil worship, its practitioners were persecuted with barbaric zeal; only in 1951 was the antiquated Witchcraft Act, banning all practice, finally repealed. Bill Love first came into contact with Witchcraft in 1942, when it was still illegal. A graduate in physics, an ex-RAF fighter pilot and a teacher in physical education, Bill was, on the face of it, an unlikely person to take an interest. But the tenets of Witchcraft – essentially the art of living in complete harmony with nature – appealed to Bill’s scientific mind, and in 1953 he joined the Sacred Coven of Ceridwen. There he learned the old, timeless ways of the religion, passed down ‘from mouth to ear’ over countless generations. Therein lies the rare magic of this book. With the rise of Gardnerian and Alexandrian Wicca, to name but two twentieth-century variants, Traditional Witchcraft, as it has become known, is in danger of extinction. In writing this book, Bill Love has shared his intimate knowledge of Witchcraft in its purest form, preserving the ancient practices and beliefs for modern covens and interested individuals to follow. Modern Witchcraft is brilliantly illustrated with photographs of Bill Love’s coven. Sadly, Bill died before the completion of this book; it is written with help and contributions from acclaimed author Jak P. Mallmann Showell and High Priestess of the Sacred Coven of Ceridwen, Toni Hughes.
Buy it here $29.95

Focusing on the Message
9781869192594Reflecting the methodological shift in the reading of biblical texts that has evolved over some years, the focus is on understanding the New Testament message and not on the origins and prehistory of the text. The contribution of other disciplines such as communication science, linguistics, as well as literary and sociological studies to biblical exegesis also receives thorough attention. The fifteen chapters move from theory to the process of explaining and understanding texts, including contributions on hermeneutics, textual and redaction criticism, discourse analysis, narrative criticism, reception criticism, speech act analysis and rhetorical criticism and concludes with a chapter on Bible translation studies. Numerous diagrams and examples are included to illustrate theoretical concepts and extensive bibliographies refer the reader to recent as well as classic publications on the various topics. The contributors are, in addition to our editor, South African academics that have published internationally on New Testament exegesis: Bernard Lategan, Johannes Vorster, Herman du Toit, G.J.A. Jordaan, Andries van Aarde, Jan van der Watt, Stephan Joubert, Bernard Combrink, Eugene Botha and John Roberts.
Buy it here $31.00

Dictionary of Jewish Terms
Cover Dict Jewish TermsThe vocabulary of Judaism includes religious terms, customs, Hebrew, Aramaic and Yiddish terms, terms related to American Jewish life and the State of Israel. All are represented in this new guide, with easy to read explanation and cross-references
Buy it here $27.50

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