Cover image for The religion book : places, prophets, saints, and seers
The religion book : places, prophets, saints, and seers
Willis, Jim, 1946-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Detroit : Visible Ink, [2004]

Physical Description:
xvi, 490 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
BL31 .W57 2004 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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Nearly 300 entries provide an encyclopedic view of key religious figures, prophets, deities, places, and scriptures from the major religions of the world. Enhanced with 100 illustrations, this new work offers authoritative information to help students understand the most-asked-about religious topics and learn about religion in various cultures. The book examines the world's major religions: Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. It also describes spiritual practices that predate organized religion, including: Druidism and goddess worship; Red Paint culture; Native North American spirituality; Ancient Celtic beliefs. The book also travels to holy places such as Jerusalem, Mecca, and Stonehenge. It profiles prophets from the pages of the Bible and Zoroastrian scriptures, including: Jesus; Moses; Siddartha ; Joseph Smith; Paul, the Apostle; Francis of Assisi; and other seers. Timely and accessible, The Religion Book examines the often conflicting theories and interpretations of spiritual and historical matters and provides a basic understanding of the world's religious diversity.

Reviews 3

Library Journal Review

This concise and accessible encyclopedia contains nearly 300 entries on the world's major religions, as well as articles on important holy places (e.g., Jerusalem, Mecca), prophets and historical figures (e.g., Jesus, Muhammad, Buddha, Mahatma Gandhi), and spiritual practices and religions that predate organized religion (e.g., Native North American spirituality). Willis, a minister with the United Church of Christ, focuses primarily on the history and current practice of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, and Judaism but does not overlook the importance of ancient religions, including Mithraism, the Orphic Gods, and the Red Paint People. There is also coverage of lesser-known contemporary religions, such as Rastafarianism and different New Age movements. Varying in length from half a page to four pages and often accompanied by black-and-white photos, the entries provide one to three reference sources for additional information as well as excerpts and quotations from religious texts. Bottom Line While not as comprehensive as the one-volume Merriam-Webster's Encyclopedia of World Religions (1999), which provides significantly more text for about the same price, this volume serves as a useful (and more current) introductory text on religion for students and informed general readers.-Michele McGraw, Hennepin Cty. Lib., Edina, MN (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

School Library Journal Review

Gr 9 Up-What distinguishes Willis's work from the many other guides to world religions? In a word, personality. Alphabetically arranged encyclopedic entries note sources (not pronunciation), and provide cross-references. The volume's wide scope includes Norse myth, Mithraism, ley lines, Kwanzaa, and Merlin; Santeria, Hasidism, and Sufis are mentioned but not indexed. American orientation makes Mormonism's entry five times that of Jainism, Dwight Moody's longer than Mahatma Gandhi's, and John Eliot's longer than both. B.C.E. replaces B.C., but the Western Wall appears as "Wailing Wall," and Judaism's view of the Fall is missing. There is an entry for abortion but none for homosexuality, and spotty coverage of ethno- or primal religions (but sympathetic entries on Gaia, Ghost Dance, and Feminist Theology). Entries on the Benedictines and Ten Commandments are misleading, and the Archbishop of Canterbury should not be called "Reverend Williams." Nevertheless, this is a fascinating book because it is suffused with an individual mind. Entries are intellectually expanded by unexpected quotations and connections challenging readers to think or to smile. Many questions are raised and left open-ended. Willis has a distinctive voice, and a lucid and engagingly immediate style. He is especially enlightening on Buddhism and Hinduism. The occasional black-and-white photos and engravings are adequate, but the book's appeal lies in its lively writing and thoughtful, personal approach.-Patricia D. Lothrop, St. George's School, Newport, RI (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Choice Review

Willis (UCC minister, carpenter, author of Journey Home: The Inner Life of a Long Distance Bicycle Rider, 2000) has been a professor of comparative religion, recorder and producer of gospel music, and host of a Christian radio program. Visible Ink publishes reference works on geology, politics, Asian action and cult movies, ghosts, fortune-telling, and NASCAR. Neither the author's activities nor the publisher's record make likely a book essential for academic libraries. It is the author's labor of love; he intends to offer documented answers to questions his parishioners and friends have posed, realizing the topic is too large and his knowledge and understanding imperfect. The 300 entries, alphabetically arranged, with 100 black-and-white illustrations, cover topics related to the five established faiths--Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism, Christianity, Islam. Many libraries already own substantial multivolume works about these faiths, but Willis presents spiritual practices, holy places, angels, demons, creeds, doctrines, religious movements, and the like nonjudgmentally, in a style understandable to general readers and younger students. Entries range from a few paragraphs to five or six pages; most end with one or two citations. A five-page bibliography cites print sources, and an index notes illustrations and main entries. From a Christian standpoint, the book has problems: it devotes more attention to Genesis than to any other Bible book; it fails to mention English versions of the Bible; it uses as source material on Julius Caesar a history of pagan Europe and a book on Druids; it offers an article on sacred dance (but none on either sacred music or drama) and on Jesuits but not Franciscans or Dominicans. Interesting articles treat non-Christian faiths (tenets, development, rituals) and topics like creationism, deep ecology, the red paint people, t'ai chi, ghost dance, Greek gods and goddesses. ^BSumming Up: Optional. Useful for all levels, essential for none. A. H. Widder Michigan State University