Cultural Literacy for Religion: Everything the Well-Educated Person Should Know : The Great Courses: Comparative & World Religion

  • by The Great Courses
  • Narrated by Professor Mark Berkson
  • Series: The Great Courses: Comparative & World Religion
  • 12 hrs and 20 mins
  • Lecture

Publisher's Summary

According to polls conducted by Gallup and the Pew Research Forum on Religion & Public Life, the majority of Americans fail basic tests about religion, including tests on their own faith. This is troublesome because religious literacy is about so much more than naming deities or knowing the stories of ancient history. For many of us, religion is a way to examine and understand ourselves.
Moreover, religious literacy – the knowledge of basic teachings, symbols, practices, founders, institutions, and values of the world's religious traditions - can shed new light on the world around us and knock down the boundaries between us, making us better neighbors and better citizens. These 24 enlightening lectures offer you the chance to experience the breadth and depth of the world's religions from all angles – historical, theological, and cultural. They take you on a tour of the world and its religious cultures. From India to East Asia to the Middle East to the United States, your journey with Professor Berkson introduces you to the beliefs and practices of other traditions and provides you with new insights into your own.
The course approaches each religion from an "imaginative insider's perspective." What does the world look like from the perspective of someone within each tradition? What does this person value and care about? What are the everyday scriptures, rituals, traditions, and holidays like?
Along the way, you'll discover certain features that are common to many religions – concepts of divinity, scripture, rituals, and explanations of good and evil - and you'll find new ways to attain greater self-understanding.


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Could Not Have Been Better

What did you love best about Cultural Literacy for Religion: Everything the Well-Educated Person Should Know?

Brilliantly organized and told; not a dull moment and very thought provoking.

What was the most compelling aspect of this narrative?

The most compelling aspect of this course is that I see the world through different eyes now, moving beyond 'tolerating' different religions to actually understanding, appreciating and even adopting elements of others' beliefs to my own, which has expanded my spirituality.

Which scene was your favorite?

Surprisingly, given my past attitudes, I enjoyed the chapters on Islam the most. Learning more about the true spirit of Islam allows me to see a large percentage of people on this planet in a new, more favorable light.

What’s the most interesting tidbit you’ve picked up from this book?

Learning the meaning--and significance--of the Hindu greeting, "Namaste," is probably the most beautiful custom I've ever found in any religion. From my standpoint, it's literally a life-changing discovery.

Any additional comments?

Professor Mark Berkson put together a masterpiece with this course, and I'll look to see what else of his I can either listen to or read.

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- George R. Murray "It kills me to think of how many years I've wasted driving around in my car and doing house/yard work when I could have been learning."

All the Basics, East and West

12 lectures on Eastern beliefs, 12 lectures on Western beliefs, and not a moment of them wasted. In addition to the Big 5 (Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam), we also get the essentials on Chinese folk religions, Confucianism, Taoism, Shinto, Mormonism, Jainism, Sikhism, and the Baha'i tradition. From there, religion and law in America and modern religious trends are discussed as the grand finale.

The information is given in a straightforward manner such that the entire presentation comes across as non-judgmental. The listener is invited by Prof. Berkson to take the basics presented here and build upon that foundation in the quest for knowledge and tolerance. All in all, a remarkable overview course for anyone wanting to look past media, pop culture, and political portrayals.
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- Troy "Say something about yourself!"

Book Details

  • Release Date: 07-08-2013
  • Publisher: The Great Courses