From Publishers Weekly
At a February 2000 conference, seven scholars of religion were asked to explain how their "personal experiences... study, and... faith perspective influence" the way that they, as individuals, "see God." This new volume recounts the conference proceedings, offering luminous essays by prolific writer Karen Armstrong, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, rabbi Lawrence Kushner, nun Joan Chittister and others. Chittister puffs ecofeminism and emphasizes the importance of humility in religion. Armstrong reveals that she cannot pray, so scarred was she by "all those years when I tried and failed." Diana Eck, a Methodist who teaches Indian religions at Harvard, takes readers on a delightful tour of three religious houses she visited in one month: Memorial Church in Harvard Yard, a Cambridge mosque, and the Sri Lakshmi Temple in Ashland, Mass. Kushner's trademark storytelling abilities are in evidence as he weaves together tales from the Bible, Tolstoy, various 18th-century rabbis and his own family. The essays do not really seem to answer the question posed to participants; readers learn how they see God but very little about how the contributors' personal experiences shaped their beliefs. The volume would have been strengthened by the inclusion of one or two more conservative religious thinkers to balance out the consistently liberal views of Chittister, Armstrong and others. Still, readers of all religious persuasions will find that they see God differently when they have finished this valuable collection.
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Coeditors Borg and Mackenzie have preserved the lively conversation that took place at Oregon State University in February 2000 wonderfully well, less as a transcript than as personal encounters with eight remarkable persons who share the essence of what they have learned about God in lifetimes of study, reflection, and sometimes struggle. The eight--
Karen Armstrong, Joan Chittister, Diana Eck, Lawrence Kushner, Seyyed Hossein Nasr, Desmond Tutu, and the editors--
represent the Abrahamic traditions of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. That six of them have Christian backgrounds may seem to imbalance things, but all eight draw on experiences of interreligious dialogue and thereby introduce a significant range of traditions and perspectives. Personable presentations, the clear framework provided by the editors, and brief accounts of exchanges with audience members and among the participants combine to make the book not just a report on what occurred in Oregon, but also an invitation to continuing conversation that readers engaged in their own reflections about God at 2000 should gladly accept. Steven SchroederCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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