Sunday, January 29, 2012

God Is Not One, by Stephen Prothero

"I am gonna tolerate and love the **** out of you." - a My Little Pony GIF my friend has

I'm reading this book--God Is Not One: The Eight Rival Religions That Run The World And Why Their Differences Matter-- that talks about why it's wonderful to imagine that all of the different religions are really just different paths to the same goal, this is a dangerous thought because they really are different, and since religion is probably one of the biggest influencers of history overall, these differences are kind of important when understanding history, current events, and individuals.

The author, Stephen Prothero, writes that a better analogy would be everyone starting out in a valley together and choosing different mountains to climb. All of the religions agree that the world has problems,  but they have differing opinions on what the main source of those problems are, and how best to solve it.

Example from the book jacket:
Islam: The problem is pride/the solution is submission
Christianity: The problem is sin/the solution is salvation
Confucianism: The problem is chaos/the solution is social order
Buddhism: The problem is suffering/the solution is awakening
Judaism: The problem is exile/the solution is to return to God

He says that it's stupid to say that all non-Christian religions are inferior because Christianity is the only way to salvation, because the other religions aren't even trying to get to salvation. They have totally different goals, so to bash them for not saving people is like saying non-baseball sports are silly because you can't score runs in them. Basketball players couldn't care less about scoring runs.

I'm still in the Islam chapter (chapter 1, which is great in and of itself because I don't know all that much about Islam anyway), but I'll let you know how it goes. I'm loving it immensely so far. (Also, that chapter starts with "Most European and North Americans have never met a Muslim," which I had to read a few times because it was such a strange thought to me. So I'm very happy with the diversity at my school now.)

I've never read anything that took this approach to religion before, and it kind of falls in line with this post about right and wrong I wrote back in July, so this book is making me very happy.

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