A Cross-cultural EncyclopediaBook - 1998
With numerous examples from cultures around the world, Religion: A Cross-Cultural Dictionary documents, describes, and explains both the commonalities and differences in how people experience and express their religious beliefs and spirituality. Clear and concise articles explain the variedphilosophies, dogma, practices, and origins of the sixteen religions with worldwide following. Dozens of other articles provide a handy reference to both patterns of similarity and difference in religious practice across the cultures of the world. All cultures, for example, have beliefs insupernatural beings, religious leaders, and burial rituals, but they differ widely in their beliefs about the evil eye, dream interpretation, and the power of sorcerers. Reasons for these similarities and differences are discussed, with fascinating cross-cultural examples of religious customs andpractices. Many unifying themes surface as author David Levinson shows how people around the world express their relationship to the supernatural world. These patterns of relationship include those based on soul journeys, possession by spirits, magical formulas, beliefs in god and goddesses, concepts aboutthe after life, and taboos on eating certain foods. Providing a thorough chronology of the history of religion beginning with the emergence of shamanism some 50,000 years ago, this carefully researched book is essential for anyone interested in humanity's religious and spiritual diversity.