Category: Book Review

It’s the Rael thing

Aliens Adored: Rael’s UFO Religion By Susan J. Palmer Rutgers University Press, 226 pages, $21.95 (pb) Spiritual notions centred on UFOs aren’t always much further outside rational comprehension than are mainstream religious beliefs. The night sky affords visible affirmation of the infinity within which our minuscule existences operate. The possibility of extraterrestrial life somewhere in the vast universe doesn’t violate ordinary logic. And in an era when technology is a god, it follows that a form of divinity may be conferred on some imagined, distant species of great technological advancement. Throughout decades of claimed UFO sightings and alien encounters, a

Beyond belief: “Strong Religion”

The authors’ technique of explaining fundamentalism in historical and cultural terms enables us to cope with it in the future “Strong Religion: The Rise of Fundamentalisms around the World,” by Gabriel A. Almond, R. Scott Appleby and Emmanuel Sivan , $19 The era in which a single interpretation was offered for the phenomenon of religious fanaticism in general and Islamic radicalism in particular is over. In the past, the world’s media convinced us that fundamentalism was rooted in poverty and unique to Islam. Academic studies that tried to

The Encyclopedia of Protestantism

The Encyclopedia of Protestantism. Ed. by Hans J. Hillerbrand. New York: Routledge, 2004. 4 vols, acid free $495 (ISBN 0-415-92472- 3). One unique hallmark of Protestantism, clearly evident in this new reference work, is the wide variety and diversity of this major (40 percent of world Christianity) sect. From the snake-handlers of Appalachia to the high-church rituals of the Anglicans, Protestantism is living up to its name. In describing religious groups that have neither a common source and identity nor a common central authoritative entity, this encyclopedia attempts historic and theological comprehensiveness under the premise that anything not Catholic and

Brainwashing, by Kathleen Taylor

BRAINWASHING: The Science of Thought Control By Kathleen Taylor Oxford University Press; ?18.99; 337pp ISBN 0 192 80496 0 Buy the book Some books become classics without ever being good simply because they put their finger on the national pulse. Even in its day, 1959, there were mixed feelings about Richard Condon’s The Manchurian Candidate. Great literature it wasn’t — Time magazine listed it as one of its Ten Best Bad Novels — but it became a bestseller and its influence has proved enduring. Two films have been made of it: the first by John Frankenheimer in 1962; the second

What I Wish My Christian Friends Knew About Judaism

Title: What I Wish My Christian Friends Knew About Judaism Author: Robert Schoen Publisher: Loyola Press, Chicago, IL In our multi-cultural society who among us has not had to explain Jewish law and customs to non-Jews or to non-observant Jews? Dr. Robert Schoen (his degree is in optometry) and his wife reside in Northern California and have been active in the efforts of promoting Judaeo-Christian understanding. His book explains the significance of many of our laws and customs and how they — and we — are viewed by our non-Jewish neighbors. BookstoreWhat I Wish My Christian Friends Knew About Judaism“What

Blood spilled in name of God

National Catholic Reporter, Jan. 10, 2003 by Charles Kimball HarperCollins, 240 pages, $21.95 Reviewed by STEPHEN J. DUFFY Some time ago, Hans Küng sagely observed, “There can be no world peace without religious peace.” Flash points of violence across the globe in the last decade certainly confirm his observation. There have been bloody encounters between Christians and Muslims, Muslims and Hindus, Protestants and Catholics, Hindus and Buddhists, Sikhs and Hindus. And the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is by no stretch purely political. History reveals a pitch-dark underside to religious traditions and movements that spawn violence. Until recently, this underside has been

When religious fervor takes a malignant turn

Denver Post, Nov. 24, 2002 By Douglas Groothuis Special to The Denver Post Sunday, November 24, 2002 – We should never discuss religion and politics among friends, goes an old saying. This notion has always been suspect (aren’t these rather important subjects that make for bracing conversation?), but after last year’s terrorist attacks, the idea seems laughable. Now that America has been attacked by violent extremist Muslims, the topics are unavoidable. How should we understand connections between religious and political and military goals? Can we tell when religions become “evil”? Religion professor Charles Kimball attempts to shed light on