Introducing World Religions: The eBook

Introducing World Religions: the eBook is organized around the root metaphor of a drama. Accordingly, chapters are divided into three parts: Dramatis personae, Script, and Performance. This triune structure allows for the "embodiment" of religious ideas and culture -- as biographies, texts, and practices are highlighted in turn. The dynamic approach makes room for a range of materials from mystical to political, canonical to folkloric, and elite to marginal. The discussion of Dramatis personae treats human and non-human figures on the world stage, including the principle (God, Dharma, Dao), imaginal figures (angels, baals, bodhisattvas), exceptional persons (founders, prophets, gurus), and historical persons (significant players in the drama of religions, including those "from below"). The discussion of Script addresses foundational texts, and works that tend to validate them. It then examines materials that balance or challenge mainstream texts with an alternative perspective. The portion on Performance explores non-verbal religious activities, such as pilgrimage, icon painting, dance, divination, and meditation.

Teachers concerned with introducing "post-colonial discourse" to students without losing the classic category of "the sacred" should find this textbook to be balanced and evocative. It grounds students in the field of religious studies by presenting workable concepts from the camps of both "religionists" and "reductionists."  Students are challenged to move between "inside" and "outside" positions as they survey what have been called (controversially) "world religions." The textbook brings to light matters that tend to get "erased" from the study of religions in order to complement and shift the standard view of religions, persons, places, and ideas. The content is focused on living traditions, with four "boxes" per chapter that encourage methodological inquiry: Culture Connections, A Spiritual Path, Symbols, and Interpretations. The chapters end with topics for discussion that foster self-reflective involvement in the subject matter.

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