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God Is Not One

 

God Is Not One, Stephen Prothero

Rating: ★★★☆☆ 

Expressing his astonishment, Prothero arrives late at the party that has been celebrating for years the diversity and plurality of the world’s religions.  Although he is correct in asserting that an entire generation of scholars, teachers, and interested readers have claimed in the interest of religious tolerance that the world’s religions were simply different paths to the same one God, such a claim functions as little more than a red herring in what is otherwise a useful introduction to the world’s religions.  Once past that assertion, Prothero sets up a helpful model for examining each religion on its own terms: he explores a problem that dominates the religion, the religion’s solution to the problem, the technique the religion uses to move from problem to solution, and the exemplar who charts a path from problem to solution.  For example, in Buddhism the problem is suffering; the solution is nirvana; the technique is the Noble Eightfold Path; and the exemplars are the arhats, bodhisattvas, and lamas.  Despite his naïveté about contemporary interreligious dialogue, Prothero’s survey is a useful introduction to eight of the world’s great religions.

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