Academic journal article Reference & User Services Quarterly

Religious Celebrations: An Encyclopedia of Holidays, Festivals, Solemn Observances, and Spiritual Commemorations

Academic journal article Reference & User Services Quarterly

Religious Celebrations: An Encyclopedia of Holidays, Festivals, Solemn Observances, and Spiritual Commemorations

Article excerpt

Religious Celebrations: An Encyclopedia of Holidays, Festivals, Solemn Observances, and Spiritual Commemorations. Ed. by J. Gordon Melton. Santa Barbara, Calif.: ABC-Clio, 2011. 2 vols. acid free $189 (ISBN: 978-1-59884-205-0).

Religious Celebrations is a two-volume set from ABC-Clio which purports to offer "the most comprehensive coverage of religious holidays ever assembled" (back cover). With over eight hundred entries, it may be hard to quibble with the comprehensive claim. Unfortunately, what it provides in quantity does not make up for its lack of quality. Edited by J. Gordon Melton, professor of American religious history at Baylor, and written by Melton and ten other contributors, this resource is poorly written, poorly researched, and poorly edited. Articles contain numerous typographical errors, punctuation mistakes, and grammatical inconsistencies; for example, "Diwali is the most observed holiday in India It [sic] is especially important for Hindus, but other communities have developed parallel celebrations, just as different groups in North America celebrate the Christmas season, though pouring [sic] widely variant content" (255). Also perplexing is the coverage of the encyclopedia. The Baha'i faith is more comprehensively discussed than Islam, for example, undoubtedly due to the fact that one of the contributors is a Baha'i expert, but the gaps are disappointing. Choice of authorship for individual entries is another puzzling aspect of this set. …

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