The Divine Deli: Religious Identity in the North American Cultural Mosaic

Article excerpt

The Divine Deli: Religious Identity in the North American Cultural Mosaic.

By John H. Berthrong. Maryknoll,N.Y.: Orbis Books, 1999. Pp. xxvi, 163. $16.

I congratulate John Berthrong on the clarion call in this book to respect and honor all the world's religions and their adherents. The age of disrespect and bigotry is over-or it should be. Berthrong compares the world's religions to a deli with cuisine from many different cooking traditions. The comparison is apt and suggestive. He deals with the many issues that arise in such a deli: intermarriage, religious meditation, the question of truth, ecology, and whether such a deli will work. He provides us with many valuable insights.

However, I raise a few questions. First, the unkind words about Southern Baptists in the Preface are out of harmony with the call for gentility and respect. Second, the emphasis on change tends to overlook the importance of permanence in order to make change meaningful. The Pythagorean theorem, gravitation, and 2 + 2 = 4 do not change. Neither do certain moral and ethical principles, whatever the religion. Some of the deli may not be edible for some or may cause indigestion. Certainly the term "deli" rejects the claim of some religious pluralists that all the major religions are essentially the same.

Third, Berthrong's title has problems. …

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