Saturday, September 22, 2012

"understanding world religions in 15 minutes a day" by garry r. morgan

About the book (from the publisher): What religions are represented in your neighborhood, your workplace, and your children's school? Things seem to be changing every day, and it can be hard to keep up. You may know a little about some of these religions. Others are new to you. You'd like to learn about them and how they differ from your beliefs, but who has time to do all the research?

In Understanding World Religions in 15 Minutes a Day, cross-cultural expert and professor Garry Morgan explains the key beliefs, histories, and practices of more than twenty religions, including the familiar—Christianity, Judaism, Mormonism—and some of the lesser known—Baha'i, Sikhism, and New Age religions. Broken into forty short readings, each chapter is engaging and easy to understand. In just minutes a day you'll soon have a better understanding of the world's beliefs.

My take:
Understanding World Religions in 15 Minutes a Day is a valuable resource for someone who wants to learn the basics of different religions. I see it as more of an encyclopedia of sorts—though you could read it through from cover to cover, it's probably more useful as a book you grab when you have a question about a particular religion. Each chapter is short (4 pages), so Morgan really does just include the basics of each religion. My favorite feature is the "An Extra Minute" paragraph at the end of each chapter, where Morgan relays a random—and often fun—fact about the religion or its followers.

The only thing I would change about the book is the way Morgan combines religions with similar-sounding names (like Christian Science and Scientology) into the same chapter. Scientology is the first religion I looked up (I've been fascinated by it since the Tom Cruise-Katie Holmes divorce, and I'm currently reading a book written by a man who left the "church" after several decades of membership), and I was disappointed to discover it didn't even merit its own chapter. I'm sure Morgan and his editors had to make some hard decisions about what to include in the book, but it was a bit of a let down.

Overall, though, this book is concise, understandable, and very informative. 4 stars.

Read an excerpt:
Understanding World Religions in 15 Minutes a Day

About the author: Garry R. Morgan is Professor of Intercultural Studies at Northwestern College. He served with World Venture from 1974–1976 and 1982–1999 in Kenya, Ethiopia, Uganda, and Tanzania. Garry is married, has a grown daughter, and lives in the Minneapolis/ St. Paul area.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free for review from Bethany House Publishers through their book reviewer program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

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