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Encountering God: A Spiritual Journey from Bozeman to Banaras Paperback – April 15, 2003

4.6 out of 5 stars 19 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Eck, a leader in interfaith dialogue movements and professor of comparative religion at Harvard, here scans the current religious landscape, reshaped by recent immigrants to the U.S., and examines "the challenge that religious diversity poses to people of faith in every religious tradition." Her personal Christian grounding in Methodism, begun in Bozeman, Mont., has been enhanced by Eastern spirituality, particularly her encounters with Hinduism during her studies and travels in India. "Today these two places, Bozeman and Banaras, both convey the spiritual meaning of home to me." In examining the differences among religious cultures, Eck continually places the Christian believer in relationship with those who follow Hindu, Buddhist, Muslim and Native American religious practices. In a splendid exposition of non-Christian approaches to God, Eck encourages an increased religious literacy that she suggests will contribute richness and diversity to our national identity.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

A Harvard professor of religion and Indian studies, as well as a lifelong Methodist Christian, Eck explores ways in which her "encounters with people of other faiths have challenged, changed, and deepened" her own faith. Her 15 years on the World Council of Churches' Working Group on Dialog with People of Living Faiths gave her many opportunities for substantive dialog that has enriched her life and will benefit both the educated public and religious professionals. Highly recommended.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 284 pages
  • Publisher: Beacon Press; Second Edition edition (April 15, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0807073016
  • ISBN-13: 978-0807073018
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.8 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.1 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #89,372 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
I had read and heard a lot about this book before actually buying and reading it. In eight closely reasoned, carefully explained chapters the author (a Harvard professor active in interreligious dialogue and open to any and all intelligent religious ideas) sets out the case for religious pluralism. She does this primarily by rational argument but also by personal and anecdotal narration, some recent history of interreligious dialogue, sound theological reflection, and sociological analysis.
In chapters subtitled The Meaning of God's Manyness and The Fire and Freedom of the Spirit she describes the many dimensions of humankind's connectedness to the transcendent and the variety of ways cultural differences assist us in our search for the absolute.
Her seventh chapter outlines in satisfying detail the three general attitudes members of a given religious community might hold toward those of other faiths: exclusivism, inclusivism, and pluralism. Pluralism is clearly the most desirable of the three, and she examines this stance by distinguishing it from other dispositions to which it bears a superficial resemblance but with which it should not be confused. Pluralism is not simply plurality or merely tolerance: it presupposes both. Nor is it relativism or syncretism. Eck emphasises the importance of interreligious dialogue, on which genuine pluralism is necessarily based and from which it flows.
In her final chapter the author shows why all this should make important differences in the way we live and interact with each other. This is a beautiful essay on religious praxis (not to be confused with practice) calling for radical changes in our minds and hearts (truth and value) that should enable all of us to live together creatively, with dignity, and in full appreciation of what it means to be human. This book can be recommended not only for those who profess a religious faith, but also, perhaps especially, for those who do not.
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Format: Paperback
This book is likely to become a cult classic. It is a series of meditations at the same time it is a journal from the author's erstwhile journey of faith. Never abandoning her roots in Montana Methodism, Diana Eck follows the many paths of faith she finds at her feet. She steps forward always without fear and with a profound curiosity which she shares with her reader and with which she calls her reader to reexamine where they have been, and where they are and where they are going with the life that has been given to them.
The book is not preachy, but it is reverent. While the touchstone is Christianity, the author's own centering point, the scope is as all encompassing as the author's travels, geographically (Benarais, Japan, Europe, Australia, Boston, you name it) and spiritually (Buddhism, Hindi, Islam, shakti, you name it).
The Ms. Eck explores her personal journey in a completely inviting way to help the reader understand the profound threshhold at which the world's religions now find themselves. They can no longer be said to have an opportunity for dialogue, but an imperative to dialogue. We know each other too well and have too much to learn from each other to not share with each other. She shows us that while we need to speak in our own language of faith, we need to exert all the effort we can to hear people of other faiths in their language, and maybe we will then find them moving toward us or us moving toward them or us all moving to a new place.
The book is superbly organized, showing that Eck has used her years as a professor (and scholar) of comparative religion at Harvard to the best advantage.
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Format: Paperback
I read this book after returning from India, and have been kicking myself ever since for not reading it BEFORE my trip. Eck gets all the way around the fascinating but sometimes-puzzling religions of Hinduism and Buddhism in a way that makes them understandable and vibrantly real to a western audience. Her personal and theological reflections enabled me (an observant, American Christian) to look at these "strange" faiths and find God in them.
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A hopeful and very personal account of Eck's interfaith journey interwoven with the larger global dynamics of an interfaith world that we are only beginning to fathom and put into perspective. The book deepened my understanding of how we must proceed to grow beyond these turbulent times. Eck explores her subject thoroughly and with great sensitivity. She leaves no misunderstanding about both the challenges and rewards of dialog, mutual respect, and understanding. I appreciated the quiet and reflective tone. Sip this book like a fine wine. It challenges and takes time to absorb, but is not academic.
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Having lived in India for more than twenty two years after growing up Catholic and attending Catholic schools until I was a sophomore in college, I was deeply interested in Diana Eck's book. She didn't disappoint. Her commitment and depth of understanding of her own religion is not diminished, but rather strengthened, widened and deepened by her willingness to understanding the spirituality of India. Rarely have I read a book about experiences in India that combine such intelligence with such deep openness to the truth of spirituality in traditions not one's own. If the world had more such people in it, we might be closer to a unity of mankind whereby we widen ourselves to comprehend and benefit from the various ways God has manifested rather than circling the covered wagons to protect ourselves from any new ideas or experiences.
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