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See below for a selection of the latest books from Eclectic & esoteric religions & belief systems category. Presented with a red border are the Eclectic & esoteric religions & belief systems books that have been lovingly read and reviewed by the experts at Lovereading. With expert reading recommendations made by people with a passion for books and some unique features Lovereading will help you find great Eclectic & esoteric religions & belief systems books and those from many more genres to read that will keep you inspired and entertained. And it's all free!
The Christian Gospels give two widely differing genealogies for Jesus, which have continued to baffle theologians throughout the centuries. Not only are these genealogies irreconcilable, but the stories of the two accounts of the birth of Jesus, as given by Matthew and Luke, are also radically different. How can this be accounted for? An ancient tradition tells that there were two children named Jesus, a year apart in age, born to parents called Mary and Joseph. These two Jesus children, brought up in close proximity, eventually 'united' in a mysterious way, resulting in a single 'Jesus' who was destined to grow up and fulfil the prophecies of the Old Testament. In grappling with this mystery, Nesfield-Cookson uses all available sources: the biblical accounts, New Testament apocryphal writings, Aramaic and Hebrew documents discovered in the Qumran caves in the twentieth century (the 'Dead Sea Scrolls'), writings by Syrian theologians of the thirteenth century, and in particular the statements by the philosopher and scientist Rudolf Steiner (the first in modern times to assert that two Jesus children existed). The author also refers to the many works of art - largely by Italian artists of the Renaissance period - which appear to depict two Jesus children. Fifteen of these paintings are reproduced as beautiful, full colour plates. The author develops a parallel theme regarding the mystery of Christ and Jesus, that of the gradual descent of Christ - the Spirit of the Sun - from the spiritual world into a physical body.
The Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, and certain other works of fantasy and science fiction have inspired some of their readers and viewers to believe that the superhuman powers of the story-worlds, such as Gandalf and the Force, exist also in the real world. We can say that such fictional narratives possess 'religious affordance', for they contain certain textual features that afford or make possible a religious, rather than just a fictional, use of the text. This book aims to identify those features of the text that make it possible for a fictional narrative to inspire belief in the supernatural beings of the story, or even to facilitate ritual interaction with these beings. The contributions analyse the religious affordance and actual use of a wide range of texts, spanning from Harry Potter and Star Wars, over The Lord of the Rings and late 19th-century Scandinavian fantasy, to the Christian Gospels. Although we focus on the religious affordance of fictional texts, we also spell out implications for the study of religious narratives in general, and for the narrativist study of religion. This book was originally published as a special issue of the journal Religion.
The American public's perception of New Religious Movements (NRMs) as fundamentally harmful cults stems from the anticult movement of the 1970s, which gave a sometimes hysterical and often distorted image of NRMs to the media. At the same time, academics pioneered a new field, studying these same NRMs from sociological and historical perspectives. They offered an interpretation that ran counter to that of the anticult movement. For these scholars in the new field of NRM studies, NRMs were legitimate religions deserving of those freedoms granted to established religions. Those scholars in NRM studies continued to evolve methods and theories to study NRMs. This book tells their story. Each chapter begins with a biography of a key person involved in studying NRMs. The narrative unfolds chronologically, beginning with late nineteenth- and early-twentieth century perceptions of religions alternative to the mainstream. Then the focus shifts to those early efforts, in the 1960s and 1970s, to comprehend the growing phenomena of cults or NRMs using the tools of academic disciplines. The book's midpoint is a chapter that looks closely at the scholarship of the anticult movement, and from there moves forward in time to the present, highlighting themes in the study of NRMs like violence, gender, and reflexive ethnography. No other book has used the scholars of NRMs as the focus for a study in this way. The material in this volume is, therefore, a fascinating viewpoint from which to explore the origins of this vibrant academic community, as well as analyse the practice of Religious Studies more generally.
Daoism is the oldest indigenous philosophic-spiritual tradition of China and one of the most ancient of the world's spiritual structures. The name Daoism comes from the term dao that is often used for a way or a road through the field or woods to one's village. It is also used of the way to do something, such as the way a master craftsman carves a candlestick, makes a bell, or even butchers an ox. But dao is also used as a nominative in the history of Daoism. It is used for the energizing process that permeates and animates all of reality and moves it along simply as the Dao. However, both text and practice in this tradition insist that dao itself cannot be described in words. Dao is not God in the sense of Western philosophy or religion. Daoism has no supreme being, even if there is an extensive grammar about numinal self-conscious entities and powers for which the Chinese use the word spirit (shen). For example, the highest numinal powers of Daoism are variously called Taishang Laojun (the deified Laozi), the Celestial Worthy of Primordial Beginning (Yuanshi tianzun), the Jade Emperor (Yuhuang Shangdi) or the Perfected Warrior (Zhenwu). But these are expressions of dao in specific shen, they are not identical with the Dao, except in the most unique case when Laozi, the putative founder of Daoism and author of its major work, Daodejing, is said to be one with the Dao. Historical Dictionary of Daoism contains a chronology, an introduction, appendixes and an extensive bibliography. The dictionary section has over 400 cross-referenced entries on related to the Chinese belief and practice worldview known as Daoism including dozens of Daoist terms, names, and practices. This book is an excellent resource for students, researchers, and anyone wanting to know more about Daoism.
The award-winning author of Protestants offers a new vision of the birth of the secular age, looking to the feelings of ordinary men and women-so often left out of the history of atheism. Why have societies that were once overwhelmingly Christian become so secular? We think we know the answer, but in this lively and startlingly original reconsideration, Alec Ryrie argues that people embraced unbelief much as they have always chosen their worldviews: through their hearts more than their minds. Looking back to the crisis of the Reformation and beyond, Unbelievers shows how, long before philosophers started to make the case for atheism, powerful cultural currents were challenging traditional faith. These tugged in different ways not only on celebrated thinkers such as Machiavelli, Montaigne, Hobbes, and Pascal, but on men and women at every level of society whose voices we hear through their diaries, letters, and court records. Ryrie traces the roots of atheism born of anger, a sentiment familiar to anyone who has ever cursed a corrupt priest, and of doubt born of anxiety, as Christians discovered their faith was flimsier than they had believed. As the Reformation eroded time-honored certainties, Protestant radicals defended their faith by redefining it in terms of ethics. In the process they set in motion secularizing forces that soon became transformational. Unbelievers tells a powerful emotional history of doubt with potent lessons for our own angry and anxious age.
Do In God We Trust, the Declaration of Independence, and other historical evidence prove that America was founded on Judeo-Christian principles? Are the Ten Commandments the basis for American law? A constitutional attorney dives into the debate about religion's role in America's founding. In today's contentious political climate, understanding religion's role in American government is more important than ever. Christian nationalists assert that our nation was founded on Judeo-Christian principles, and advocate an agenda based on this popular historical claim. But is this belief true? The Founding Myth answers the question once and for all. Andrew L. Seidel, a constitutional attorney at the Freedom from Religion Foundation, builds his case point by point, comparing the Ten Commandments to the Constitution and contrasting biblical doctrine with America's founding philosophy, showing that the Bible contradicts the Declaration of Independence's central tenets. Thoroughly researched, this persuasively argued and fascinating book proves that America was not built on the Bible and that Christian nationalism is, in fact, un-American.
This anthology consists of fourteen topically arranged essays that, according to recent polls, more and more Americans find themselves uncomfortable maintaining traditional religious beliefs and moral commitments-a trend driven in large part by Millennials and one likely to continue with subsequent generations. As a professor who has regular interactions with students of this generation, the author has discovered that those who neither wish to affiliate with one particular religious tradition or community nor drop religion altogether fear that there are few if any truly attractive alternatives-alternatives that would help them find meaning, offer sound moral guidance, and navigate life's most challenging times. In the fourteen essays in this book, James A. Metzger shows that both meaning and resources for crafting a philosophically sound moral compass can be found outside the sacred canopy. Arranged topically, these essays explore a form of humanism characterized by epistemic humility, a progressive ethical orientation, as well as a respect for the positive features of religion. The author's own journey from mainline Protestant Christianity to secular humanism followed the onset of a serious autoimmune illness, which forced him to confront various issues in philosophy of religion, particularly the problem of suffering and evil. The author weaves his own experiences into several chapters in order to show that in a postmodern milieu we can no longer attribute major worldview shifts to solitary, dispassionate rational inquiry. Although the essays have been composed in such a way that each may stand alone, a feature that allows readers to approach chapters in any order they choose, they nevertheless have been arranged into four sections that reflect the author's personal journey: Chronic Illness and the Death of God, Epistemic Limitations and Respect for Persons, A Humanist Approach to Reading the Bible, and Advantages of Ethical Reasoning without God.