Wednesday, February 14, 2018
--- Books I like ---
It suddenly struck me (Whack!) that putting the reference blogs at the end of a section is sorta like putting the cart before the horse. So, I'll remedy that.
If you're going to sample the variety of religions in your area, two references are a must - an extensive reference of denominations, and an extensive reference of religions.
A great reference for world religions is the Adherents website, but I'll discuss that in the next religion blog. A good "book" is the Handbook of Religious Beliefs and Practices, a manual used by the State of Washington Department of Corrections. Evidently Washington state is serious about religious freedom in their prisons and they actually consulted people who practice various religions - both major and minor. This manual has been through several revisions - the copy I have is 2012 and is available at www.doc.wa.gov/docs/publications/500-HA001.pdf
For a complete rundown of denominations (Christian and other), I haven't found a better reference than Frank Mead's Handbook of Denominations. The 13th edition is by Craig D. Atwood, Frank S. Mead, and Samuel S. Hill (2010 Abingdon Press, Nashville).
World Scripture: A Comparative Anthology of Sacred Texts by Andrew Wilson (ed.) is an interesting topical comparison of various sacred texts. It was published in 1991 by the International Religious Foundation and can be accessed here: https://www.tparents.org/Library/Unification/Books/World-S/WS-01.pdf (accessed 2/14/18).
Modern religion can be dizzying in it's diversity. If you want a field guide to new religions, I would recommend the Encyclopedia of New Religions edited by Peter B. Clarke and published by Routledge (2006).
A fascinating read is the Magico-Religious Groups and Ritualistic Activities: A Guide for First Responders by Tony M. Kail. (2008 CRC Press). The title says it all.
If you want to do an in depth study of a specific religion you might want to track down a sample of their major sacred texts and read them. But be forewarned, some religions do not have texts, they have libraries.