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.
PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying reference material will be available in your Library section along with the audio.
©2012 The Teaching Company, LLC (P)2012 The Great Courses
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"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.
"Fantastic but missing a few things"
Overall, for the scope this lecture series is trying to accomplish, it's very good for something so broad. Well reasoned, well sequenced, well paced, and well spoken. I understand the intention was to cover the 'major' religious traditions, however I do feel it lacked just a few chapters or sections. I would have liked a section to cover Caribbean religious traditions, which could have been a good way to touch upon some of the lost African traditions that influenced them the same way he discusses chinese folk traditions to give context. And I was VERY let down that Native American religious traditions are completely overlooked. There was a lost opportunity to integrate many of the worlds indigenous beliefs into a lecture series such as this.
"Thoroughly enjoyed listening to this course"
Yes. I found the content interesting and the delivery very engaging.
The explanation of the difference between Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox: I had never heard this explained nor the history behind the two religions.
For a basic course, it is fairly thorough and covers the main religions and also explains many of the more obscure religions as well. Professor Berkson is very entertaining to listen to. He explains the history and background of each religion, as well as how it is practiced in daily life, also explaining holidays and traditions. He is very equal in his treatment and assessment of each religion, not infusing his opinion into the content. It imparts useful and practical knowledge.
"Fills in many blanks."
This lecture series is an excellent way to broaden your knowledge of other cultures. Since ignorance breeds fear, I recommend a listen.
"Could Not Have Been Better"
Brilliantly organized and told; not a dull moment and very thought provoking.
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.
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.
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.
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.
"Very Well Done!"
The lecturer does a great job, covering a broad range of religions very effectively. His delivery is good, and he has just the right amount of passion to keep the listener interested without going overboard.
He takes each religion's beliefs at face value, without making any judgments.
I especially liked his lecture addressing exclusivism, inclusivism, and pluralism.
This course sets a high bar for clarity, balanced commentary and fantastic organization. Most highly recommended .
Narrator made listening enjoyable. Good overviews and balanced presentation of all topics. Worth the time spent listening to the class.
"Mandatory primer on World Religions"
Yes. There is a lot of information and it's best to listed a few times to retain it better. World religions are complex and to really understand people from different religious backgrounds it's not done by just listening
Mark Berkson's entire lecture was fabulous. Captivating, good pacing.
Very good primer. The title is right: it's what the educated person SHOULD know about the word's biggest religions. It's the basics and that's enough.
Great lecture on different feligions. De-mystified some things I always wondered about. Good information and the narrorator speaks well.
"Great overview of the world's major faiths"
A good introduction to all the major faith traditions. Reasonable depth without getting too bogged down in detail.
Similar to the Introduction to Buddhism from Great Courses, except it covers a number of faith traditions.
The introduction to Hinduism was especially interesting.
This is more of an educational lecture series.
Well worth the listen.
Very interesting and well presented. I learnt a lot and enjoyed the lecturer style and presentation. I would listen to him again
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