Living Religions of the World

Living Religions of the World

Living Religions of the World

Living Religions of the World

Excerpt

The main concern of this book is to include sufficient factual, sociological, and historical material, in a subject often notoriously without dates, to provide adequate guideposts without at the same time cluttering the discussion with superfluous or distracting detail. For this procedure the author had two reasons; First, the book is designed as a survey of contemporary religions, not as a complete compendium of any one of them. Second, it seemed more important to deal with the nature and development of the religious impulse itself, than to describe meticulously some or several creeds. The subject of the book is the nature of that religious impulse and of what happens to it, under varying cultural conditions, as it solidifies into a creed.

Few of the world's living religions are completely autochthonous. Most of them betray many mingled influences. In general, however, we have on the one hand the Semitic-Judaic-Christian tradition in the West. This tradition includes Mohammedanism, that faith which derives both from East and West, but which conquered part of the former and was forced to give up its conquests in the latter. On the other hand, we have the religions of the Orient, a great many of which are an extension of, reaction against, or intermingling with those extremely ancient primitive religious practices that the Aryans brought with them when they invaded India. The general background of our own Occidental world we may be presumed to know fairly well. The general background of the Oriental world we do not. Therefore this book commences and deals at some length with India, for much that we have to say would be incomprehensible did it not.

Comparative religion, in common with all comparative studies, is extremely diverse, not only in its subject matter but in its ap-

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