“World Religions” by Robert Pollock

World ReligionsI am a curious lass. I always want to know things. What’s funny though is that sometimes as soon as I read or learn something, if I don’t reinforce the lesson, I tend to forget what I learned. The exception, though, is when the lesson or reading is accompanied by an emotion or if it’s so weird that it sticks out in my mind. This is why I love stories, especially those of fantasy. Stories are always emotionally charged and those of fantasy are always accompanied by the unusual so I am sure to remember them. What does this have to do with World Religions by Robert Pollock? Well, I read the book a couple weeks ago and I’ve already forgotten what I read. 😦

I didn’t mean for this to happen. There are slight tendrils of memories lingering around in my mind, trying to remind me of what I read but it’s no use. What I do remember, however, is the impression the book made on me. I recall that I enjoyed reading it and that I felt enlightened while doing so. I saw similarities among the major religions of the world and learned about other religions that, prior to this book, I’ve never heard of.

World Religions is a book to pick up if you want a quick crash course in world religions. It begins with a brief description, gives the history and founders of the religion, and details the gods and goddesses worshiped. It also lists the major holidays celebrated and includes any denominations or sects of a particular religion. The book is about 230 pages, index included, but it is a quick read. The language is easy to follow and the sections are not too long, unless a particular religion has many facets to it that needs to be covered.

I have always been curious about other religions. I often wondered at how similar or different they were to mine. Quite often I’ve thought it preposterous to believe that the world is governed by gods and goddesses. But the more I meet people from other religious backgrounds, the more I think it ignorant of me to deem their beliefs as silly. Who am I to place my beliefs above theirs? It’s possible that they might see my belief in one all-powerful, all-knowing god as incorrect. And view the way in which I worship—stomping and clapping, excessive preaching, and going into spiritual fits—as silly and simply entertaining. I now believe that it’s best to understand things before harshly judging it. And my reason for reading this book is simply because I wanted to know more and not be as ignorant as I was before.

However, after reading, I couldn’t help believing that religions are similar to mythologies. This may be an obvious observation for some but I’ve never considered religion to be akin to myth. Actually, I thought it was horrible to think such a thing because I reasoned that religion is true and myth is not. But most of what we consider to be myths today were once a religion in the past. And those people of the past told themselves those stories as a way to explain their existence and what occurs around them. Sometimes those stories help to structure their society. When those stories are strongly believed, they become religions, and when those religions fall from favor, they become myths; or so I reasoned to myself. The similarity that I see between religions and myths is that people use them both to structure their society, inform their decisions, explain their existence, and incorporate them in their craft. I think humans can’t help telling themselves stories, trying to explain themselves to themselves.

Anyways, I may have forgotten exactly what I read but World Religions left an impression. I faintly recall the text but I strongly remember the force of the thoughts that ran through my mind as I read. I will return to its pages because I would like to remember at least a brief description of the religions discussed. So, if like me, you are a curious one and would like a crash course in world religions, go pick up Robert Pollock’s World Religions.

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