Too often our curiosity about the religious faith and practices of our neighbors in the global village is stifled by the arcane language and philosophical hair-splitting that greets us when we open a book in search of answers to our questions. WithMoreToo often our curiosity about the religious faith and practices of our neighbors in the global village is stifled by the arcane language and philosophical hair-splitting that greets us when we open a book in search of answers to our questions.
With our frustration in mind, Professors Lynn Stephens and Gregory Pence offer this insightful and engaging introduction to six of the worlds major religions: Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, and Confucianism. Rather than lead us through the labyrinthian history preceding the modern-day incarnations of these six traditions, Professors Stephens and Pence invite us to view the world, if only for a few moments, as we might through the eyes of someone whose religious life is very different from our own. By drawing our attention to a problem or dilemma central to the beliefs and rituals of a given tradition, Stephens and Pence enable us to understand how the experiences common to all of us - birth and love, faith and community, suffering and death - can become, in the actual living of these experiences, uniquely Christian or uniquely Buddhist or uniquely Jewish.
For example, we learn about Christian moral thought as we puzzle over the mystery of Jesuss dual nature. We come to understand the idea of a chosen people by uncovering the tensions between ethnicity and universalism in Judaism. And we stretch our minds to comprehend the essence of life as we ponder the Buddhist paradox of soulless reincarnation.
To be sure, we take away from Seven Dilemmas a keener sense of how the world appears to someone steeped in the tradition of Islam or Hinduism or Confucianism. But more than this, we realize that many of the concerns socharacteristic of our religious life - the relation between religion and secular culture, the nature of God, the hope for life after death - are common to believers whose lives of faith we might otherwise have thought wholly different from our own. The real treasure Stephens and Pence of