God is Not One, by Stephen Prothero

This book was a very interesting overview of eight major world religions. The title comes from the author’s frustration with the popular idea that “all religions are one,” that all are different paths to the same God. Prothero argues that this is not so, at least not in the sense a lot of people seem to mean it. Rather, he says, the world’s great religions are not all asking the same questions (Chrisitianity asks, “How can I be saved from sin and live eternally,” he argues, but many religions aren’t concerned about these things at all). Rather, his point is that the world’s great religions are gloriously different, and good at different things, and we need to understand these differences in order to understand and live with one another.

This theme of difference rather than similarity comes out very strongly at the beginning of the book but tends to get lost midway through, since, let’s face it, there are both similarities and differences between all religions, and Prothero points out both. While God is Not One” may be a good hook to get people to pick up the book, it’s really just a great survey of a number of major religions, which is interesting to read and should be informative for anyone who wants to understand religions better.  Prothero makes some interesting choices in which religions he selects to write about (Sikhism, for example, doesn’t make the cut, but Yoruba religion, about which I knew nothing before reading this book, does get a chapter). He’s also even-handed in showing the good and bad aspects of all religions. I found this book fascinating and recommend it to anyone who wants to learn more about the religions of the world.


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Filed under Nonfiction -- general

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