A Review of ‘Cultural Literacy for Religion’ by Mark Berkson

This is a series of lectures on the subject of religion. It’s purpose was to introduce the listener to all important tenants and institutions the world’s major religions. It’s starts in the East and Far East with Hinduism and Buddhism, then goes West with Judaism, Christianity and Islam. It then doubles back and explains the basics of smaller, and yet still important religions such as Shamanism, Jainism and Sikhism.

And finally, the lecture series wrapped up by discussing a history of religion in the USA from the colonial era (when religion was state sponsored); to the institution of a separation between Church and State; Mormonism and the Amish; and wrapping up with the legalization of peyote in religious rituals back in the ’90’s.

Probably my favorite part of this series was how the lecturer brought up the cultural synchrony between the different religions. Examples of synchrony and synthesis include examples like Zen Jews/Zen Christians, Hindus going to Sufi shrines, and the creation of syncretic faiths like the Baha’i religion.

I liked this series. It did exactly what it set out to do- namely, introducing the basics of many world religions. If you have intellectual curiosity on this subject, I can highly recommend this one. The lecturer takes a friendly, tolerant attitude towards all the faiths discussed which I found highly informative.

STARS: 4.5 OUT OF 5 STARS (5 stars=perfect, 4 Stars=Great, 3 Stars=Good, 2 Stars=Fun but Flawed, 1 Star=Not Recommended)

GRADE: This is a very good book, but I don’t think it’s for everyone. If you have an interest in the sociology of religion, check it out. I intend to listen to it again.

Overall Rating: Recommended with Reservations (How I Rate Books)


Genres/Tagwords: Nonfiction, Lecture Series, The Great Courses, Religion, History of Religion, Cultural Literacy for Religion

Previous books by the author/in the series I’ve reviewed:

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