• Summary
  • Contents
  • Subject index

In a world plagued by religious conflict, how can the various religious and secular traditions coexist peacefully on the planet? And, what role does sociology play in helping us understand the state of religious life in a globalizing world? In the Fourth Edition of Gods in the Global Village, author Lester Kurtz continues to address these questions. This text is an engaging, thought-provoking examination of the relationships among the major faith traditions that inform the thinking and ethical standards of most people in the emerging global social order. Thoroughly updated to reflect recent events, the book discusses the role of religion in our daily lives and global politics, and the ways in which religion is both an agent of, and barrier to, social change.

A Sociological Tour: Turning East
A Sociological Tour: Turning East

If a group of 10 people were taken to represent the world’s religious communities, three would identify themselves as Christians, two as Muslims, two would be unaffiliated or atheists, one would be Hindu, and one would be Buddhist or a member of a related East Asian religion (like Taoism). Another would have to represent every other religious group, including various folk religions, tribal and shamanist traditions, and Judaism (see Figure 2.1).

This model is complicated by the enormous number of people actually involved. On closer examination, for example, you would discover that each of these persons represents not only a religious tradition but particular elements of the world’s social organization as well. Some religious traditions are ...

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