Encyclopedia of religious and spiritual development, ed. by Elizabeth M. Dowling and W. George Scarlett. Sage Publications, CA, 2006.


This is the product of an ambitious project: To bring within a single volume many different facets of religion and spirituality. These two terms are intertwined. Every religion has a spiritual dimension, but it is possible to be spiritual without being affiliated to a religion, and not all religious people are necessarily spiritual. Notwithstanding all the controversies associated with the notions and practices of religion and spirituality, they both permeate practically every sphere of human culture, from literature and music to health and scholarship. Concepts associated with them are ubiquitous in the language; religious names and symbols enrich and inspire human culture and societies.
This compendium of brief essays on some of the major topics associated with religion and spirituality is informative and erudite, but by no means exhaustive in its selection of topics or complete in their treatment. Practically all the scholars included are of the Judeo-Christian tradition. The list of leading religious and spiritual figures consists only of those associated with the Abrahamic faiths and Buddha. Not all Christian denominations have an entry. On the other hand, there are articles on some major organizations, such as the Sierra Club and UNICEF; places of religious significance; and key concepts and practices, like rituals, yoga, and prayer. This book deserves a place in every library because it is a rich source of insight and information on topics of growing relevance and interest. Perhaps it may be taken as the prototype of a multivolume encyclopedia on this very vast subject.

July 10, 2913

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