Encyclopedia of Global Religion

Article excerpt

Encyclopedia of Global Religion. Ed. by Mark Juergensmeyer and Wade Clark Roof. Los Angeles, Calif.: Sage Reference, 2011. 2 vols. $325 (ISBN 978-0-7619-2729-7). Ebook available (978-1-4129-9789-8), $400.00.

On any given day, news reports from around the world often focus on religion or the effects of religion on people, countries, and events. These range from the "good," such as religious groups rallying to help others who have been afflicted by natural disasters, to those that are "bad," such as murder done in the name of God. Thus, understanding the various religions of the world is required in order to make sense of many international events. This encyclopedia seeks to become "a standard reference work for the emerging field of global religion" (xxxvii). The editors have compiled over 750 entries by over 370 contributors that attempt to place the role of religion in its global context. There are articles on specific religions, religious ideas and practices, and individuals. In addition and most importantly, there are articles for every country on the face of the earth which examine religion and its effects on those countries.

As a whole, this encyclopedia fulfills its goals of illuminating the field of global religion, as can be seen by the classification of the articles in the "Reader's Guide." The articles are classed into nine major categories: biographies; concepts and theories; countries, cities, and regions; events and historical topics; influential texts and figures of veneration; movements and organizations; religion in public life; religious traditions and groups; and social issues and global trends. The editors, however, do not give an explicit rationale for the inclusion of specific articles. This is evident especially in both the biography and the influential texts and figures of veneration categories. Among the biographies included are figures such as Asoka (the great emperor of ancient India famed for his support of Buddhism), Mircea Eliade (the great scholar of religion), and Thich Nhat Hanh (the well-known Buddhist and teacher of mindfulness meditation). Yet also included are Mohammad Atta (one of the September 11 hijackers), Eric Robert Rudolph (the Atlanta Olympic bomber), and Timothy McVeigh (the Oklahoma City Federal Building bomber). …


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