According to polls conducted by Gallup and the Pew Research Forum on Religion & Public Life, the majority of Americans fail basic tests about religion, including tests on their own faith. This is troublesome because religious literacy is about so much more than naming deities or knowing the stories of ancient history. For many of us, religion is a way to examine and understand ourselves.
Moreover, religious literacy – the knowledge of basic teachings, symbols, practices, founders, institutions, and values of the world's religious traditions - can shed new light on the world around us and knock down the boundaries between us, making us better neighbors and better citizens. These 24 enlightening lectures offer you the chance to experience the breadth and depth of the world's religions from all angles – historical, theological, and cultural. They take you on a tour of the world and its religious cultures. From India to East Asia to the Middle East to the United States, your journey with Professor Berkson introduces you to the beliefs and practices of other traditions and provides you with new insights into your own.
The course approaches each religion from an "imaginative insider's perspective." What does the world look like from the perspective of someone within each tradition? What does this person value and care about? What are the everyday scriptures, rituals, traditions, and holidays like?
Along the way, you'll discover certain features that are common to many religions – concepts of divinity, scripture, rituals, and explanations of good and evil - and you'll find new ways to attain greater self-understanding.
Disclaimer: Please note that this recording may include references to supplemental texts or print references that are not essential to the program and not supplied with your purchase.
©2012 The Teaching Company, LLC (P)2012 The Great Courses
It kills me to think of how many years I've wasted driving around in my car and doing house/yard work when I could have been learning.
Brilliantly organized and told; not a dull moment and very thought provoking.
The most compelling aspect of this course is that I see the world through different eyes now, moving beyond 'tolerating' different religions to actually understanding, appreciating and even adopting elements of others' beliefs to my own, which has expanded my spirituality.
Surprisingly, given my past attitudes, I enjoyed the chapters on Islam the most. Learning more about the true spirit of Islam allows me to see a large percentage of people on this planet in a new, more favorable light.
Learning the meaning--and significance--of the Hindu greeting, "Namaste," is probably the most beautiful custom I've ever found in any religion. From my standpoint, it's literally a life-changing discovery.
Professor Mark Berkson put together a masterpiece with this course, and I'll look to see what else of his I can either listen to or read.
This was the most insightful and objective look at religions I have ever encountered.
If this was a required course for all American high school students, our country would change in a generation. Yes, it's that powerful.
Yes. I found the content interesting and the delivery very engaging.
The explanation of the difference between Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox: I had never heard this explained nor the history behind the two religions.
For a basic course, it is fairly thorough and covers the main religions and also explains many of the more obscure religions as well. Professor Berkson is very entertaining to listen to. He explains the history and background of each religion, as well as how it is practiced in daily life, also explaining holidays and traditions. He is very equal in his treatment and assessment of each religion, not infusing his opinion into the content. It imparts useful and practical knowledge.
The lecturer does a great job, covering a broad range of religions very effectively. His delivery is good, and he has just the right amount of passion to keep the listener interested without going overboard.
He takes each religion's beliefs at face value, without making any judgments.
I especially liked his lecture addressing exclusivism, inclusivism, and pluralism.
Loved it! Good voice, well structured in the delivery of material, and great topics were covered.
This is the top audiobook and Great Course that I have listened to so far. The analysis of each religion is thorough but moves quickly across each subject. By far the highlight was Professor Berkson's objective analysis of each religion that is open and without bias. After covering each major world religion and their various offshoots, the last two chapters include excellent discussions on the history of religion in the United States, the major court cases involving church and state and the trends and influence of religion around the world.
He does not insult or marginalize any religion and leads an objective and unbiased discussion in the lectures.
Everything All People Should Know
I so enjoyed Mark Berkson's course and performance. I could not wait to get back to the material. He's taken what could be a jumble of confusing, mundane facts about various religion and made it an enjoyable educational experience.
I've often had a hard time understanding the concepts of Buddhism and his simple down to earth explanations clarified the religion to the point of me thinking, "Oh! I get it now!." I know you can go deeper into Buddhism than what is explained here, but that's true of any of the religions.
I appreciate the respect he shows to all the religions, explaining the reasoning behind what seem like strange religious customs. This is an outstanding course and I plan to listen to it again to help retain more of the information.
This audio book is a great way to get a rapid understanding of the world religions. Was a great use of time let me to a deeper understanding of what we all have in common and words are religious differences lie.
Learn, understand, then decide whether you accept or reject.
An excellent tour of many world religions, exploring origins, belief systems, social structures and various sects among other things. Highly recommended.
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