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Cultural Literacy for Religion: Everything the Well-Educated Person Should Know | [The Great Courses]

Cultural Literacy for Religion: Everything the Well-Educated Person Should Know

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. These 24 enlightening lectures offer you the chance to experience the world's religions from all angles – historical, theological, and cultural.
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Publisher's Summary

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.

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying reference material will be available in your Library section along with the audio.


©2012 The Teaching Company, LLC (P)2012 The Great Courses

What Members Say

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  •  
    Jack United States 04-09-15
    Jack United States 04-09-15 Member Since 2011
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Fills in many blanks."

    This lecture series is an excellent way to broaden your knowledge of other cultures. Since ignorance breeds fear, I recommend a listen.

    7 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Moonchild Detroit, Mi. United States 09-22-14
    Moonchild Detroit, Mi. United States 09-22-14

    humble

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    "Thoroughly enjoyed listening to this course"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    Yes. I found the content interesting and the delivery very engaging.


    What other book might you compare Cultural Literacy for Religion: Everything the Well-Educated Person Should Know to and why?

    Unknown


    Have you listened to any of Professor Mark Berkson’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    No.


    What’s the most interesting tidbit you’ve picked up from this book?

    The explanation of the difference between Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox: I had never heard this explained nor the history behind the two religions.


    Any additional comments?

    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.

    13 of 14 people found this review helpful
  •  
    George R. Murray Boise, ID USA 08-15-13
    George R. Murray Boise, ID USA 08-15-13

    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.

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    "Could Not Have Been Better"
    What did you love best about Cultural Literacy for Religion: Everything the Well-Educated Person Should Know?

    Brilliantly organized and told; not a dull moment and very thought provoking.


    What was the most compelling aspect of this narrative?

    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.


    Which scene was your favorite?

    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.


    What’s the most interesting tidbit you’ve picked up from this book?

    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.


    Any additional comments?

    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.

    28 of 32 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Troy 07-13-15
    Troy 07-13-15

    I grew up on Golden Age Radio, I love to learn about a great many things, and I enjoy a wide variety of genres. Me, bored? Never!

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "All the Basics, East and West"

    12 lectures on Eastern beliefs, 12 lectures on Western beliefs, and not a moment of them wasted. In addition to the Big 5 (Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam), we also get the essentials on Chinese folk religions, Confucianism, Taoism, Shinto, Mormonism, Jainism, Sikhism, and the Baha'i tradition. From there, religion and law in America and modern religious trends are discussed as the grand finale.

    The information is given in a straightforward manner such that the entire presentation comes across as non-judgmental. The listener is invited by Prof. Berkson to take the basics presented here and build upon that foundation in the quest for knowledge and tolerance. All in all, a remarkable overview course for anyone wanting to look past media, pop culture, and political portrayals.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jim 01-21-14
    Jim 01-21-14 Member Since 2013
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    "Very Well Done!"

    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.

    9 of 11 people found this review helpful
  •  
    John Balme 07-02-15
    John Balme 07-02-15 Member Since 2014
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Standard-setting course"

    This course sets a high bar for clarity, balanced commentary and fantastic organization. Most highly recommended .

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Rachel 05-02-15
    Rachel 05-02-15 Member Since 2012
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    "helpful content"

    Narrator made listening enjoyable. Good overviews and balanced presentation of all topics. Worth the time spent listening to the class.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    TX VR6 04-18-15
    TX VR6 04-18-15 Member Since 2015
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    "Very Informative"

    Great lecture on different feligions. De-mystified some things I always wondered about. Good information and the narrorator speaks well.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer Phoenix, AZ USA 04-08-15
    Amazon Customer Phoenix, AZ USA 04-08-15 Member Since 2013
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    "Mandatory primer on World Religions"
    Would you listen to Cultural Literacy for Religion: Everything the Well-Educated Person Should Know again? Why?

    Yes. There is a lot of information and it's best to listed a few times to retain it better. World religions are complex and to really understand people from different religious backgrounds it's not done by just listening


    Which character – as performed by Professor Mark Berkson – was your favorite?

    Mark Berkson's entire lecture was fabulous. Captivating, good pacing.


    Any additional comments?

    Very good primer. The title is right: it's what the educated person SHOULD know about the word's biggest religions. It's the basics and that's enough.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Tracy 12-27-14
    Tracy 12-27-14
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    "Educational and entertaining"
    Any additional comments?

    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.

    5 of 6 people found this review helpful
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  • Mr
    7/23/15
    Overall
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    "Great overview of the world's major faiths"
    What did you like most about Cultural Literacy for Religion: Everything the Well-Educated Person Should Know?

    A good introduction to all the major faith traditions. Reasonable depth without getting too bogged down in detail.


    What other book might you compare Cultural Literacy for Religion: Everything the Well-Educated Person Should Know to, and why?

    Similar to the Introduction to Buddhism from Great Courses, except it covers a number of faith traditions.


    Which scene did you most enjoy?

    The introduction to Hinduism was especially interesting.


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    This is more of an educational lecture series.


    Any additional comments?

    Well worth the listen.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Angela Stringer
    Newcastle Upon Tyne, Englnd
    5/29/15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Great Overview"

    Very interesting and well presented. I learnt a lot and enjoyed the lecturer style and presentation. I would listen to him again

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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