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One True God: Historical Consequences of Monotheism Paperback – April 13, 2003
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Top Customer Reviews
Stark goes over all the basics: why people choose a faith, the nature of monotheism as opposed to polytheism, and the history of Judaism, Christianity and Islam. The historical perspectives are particularly handy in these troubled times, as Stark is particularly interested in why religious violence breaks out. Accounts of interfaith violence have been particularly in the foreground of our consciousness with several books on Catholicism (especially the papacy) and anti-Semitism, and above all, the Taliban and al-Qaeda. Much ink has been spent deciphering the relationship with Islam proper and fundamentalism, and this book should give people some much-needed perspective on this haunting, vital question. Moreover, Stark devotes an entire chapter to contemporary trends in monotheistic faiths and their relationships not only with each other but also with the secular elite in America--Stark's honesty and humor in treating this touchy subject was a real treat to read.
My main beef with Stark is his portrayal of religious conversion as a rational, economic decision. He lays it out in Chapter 1: people worship a God because they think that deity will bring good things to them. Now, I'm all for intercessory prayer and getting divine help, but when I've seen genuine converts, they convert because they decide that a faith is true and that they love God and want to know him better. I don't think any religion worth its salt would look well on someone who just wanted to buy off God with some worship in order to get some help in return.Read more ›
You can't satisfy everyone.
Personally, I found this book enjoyable and thought-provoking, though I didn't agree with every point, either.
Stark thinks for himself. He presents the facts in fresh perspective, offers serious arguments, and lets the chips fall on both sides of the page. You must be doing something interesting when you get criticized as an unbeliever by believers, and as a believer by unbelievers.
Stark's thesis is that belief in "One True God" has sociological effects different from belief in many gods or no gods. Monotheism created the cultural solidarity of the Jews that allowed them to survive as a people. (As long as they retained that faith.) Christianity spread during the early centuries through the social networks of ordinary believers. Professional missionaries, Stark argues, are not much use. (This is a good book for missionaries, by the way.) After the Roman empire became officially Christian, the effort to convert Europeans stalled; Stark doubts if the mass of Europeans ever did become orthodox Christians. Given the nature of monotheism, he thinks conflict between Muslims and Christians was inevitable: "It is precisely God as a conscious, responsive, good supreme being of infinite scope -- who prompts awareness of idolatry, false Gods, and heretical religions.Read more ›
Oftentimes i find myself very directed in my reading, the last few years have been such a time. I found what is vol 2 of this set For the Glory of God first, as a result of recommendations to read simply one chapter out of it. This book is vol 1 of the set, and now i found that i bought yet another book by Stark The Rise of Christianity, thus moving into the other systematic way of reading, not by topic but by author. And this author has earned such a task, he is witty, interesting and more important presents these big important ideas and defends them with flair.
His big idea is the exchange relationship as a sociological way of looking at religions. The book assumes this and moves on to showing the results of such thinking. The first is that some types of Gods work better as exchange partners, powerful, larger scope(not a local deity, bound to a particular piece of land), a personal Being not an intellectual essence. This is essentially chapter 1- "God's Nature". The subtopic is the inevitable dualism that most answers to the question of theodicy requires, that is blaming the presence of evil in the universe on another less powerful god, devil, satan etc.
Chapter 2- "God's Chosen: Monotheism and Mission" is an analysis of inclusivity vs exclusivity, or universalism vs particularism and the missionary impulse. Aptly summed up in the phrase: "indeed the duty, to spread knowledge of the One True god: the duty to missionize in inherent in dualistic monotheism" pg 35 The analysis of the Church of Power and the Church of Piety and the Constantinian synthesis is worth the reading of the entire book, pg 59-77.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I bought this based on the description and reviews saying that it traced developments of monotheism from Akhenaten in Egypt. What a disappointment. Read morePublished 11 months ago by sea2quest
Rodney Stark is a sociologist of religion with a special emphasis on Christianity. He claims not to be a historian, although he has done a tremendous amount of historical research... Read morePublished on October 16, 2013 by Ronald Klaus
Rodney Stark's "One True God" provides unusual and surprising insights from this University of Washington professor of sociology and comparative religion. Read morePublished on October 21, 2008 by Earth that Was
This is Stark at his best! Very well researched and meticulously argued, this book is an intriguing exploration into the impact of monotheism on Western culture.Published on July 11, 2007 by Alan Hirsch
Rodney Stark knows his material. He starts with a premise and builds upon it until you almost can't help but agree. Read morePublished on July 26, 2006 by Kevin Jackson