Despite the title, Osborne (Favorite Norse Myths, 1995, etc.) confines her handsomely packaged introduction to the seven...

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"ONE WORLD, MANY RELIGIONS: The Ways We Worship"

Despite the title, Osborne (Favorite Norse Myths, 1995, etc.) confines her handsomely packaged introduction to the seven most widespread--not necessarily largest--faiths, describing for each its history, values, major holidays, and distinctive style of worship. All arose, she writes, in response to three questions: How did the world begin? What is the purpose of life? What happens after we die? All have created enduring senses of community and purpose in millions; the author carefully points out similarities, as well as differences. Her tone is respectful, with inconsistently skeptical touches: ""God spoke to Abraham"" and Moses ""stretched his hand over the waters, and they parted,"" but ""according to his followers, Jesus was taken up into heaven,"" and a Zen koan ""is supposed to help students think and see things in a new way."" The level of detail is not evenhanded either--""women play a vital role in Hinduism"" is an unsupported afterthought relegated to a picture caption, and Osborne points out varieties of practice and belief in Judaism and Christianity, but not in Islam. Many of the several dozen large full-color photos feature children engaged in rites or celebrations, sending the important message that religion isn't just for grown-ups, but the factual information here is not hard to find elsewhere, and next to books like Huston Smith's Illustrated World Religions (1994), the narrow focus will give readers only a limited picture.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1996

ISBN: 0679839305

Page Count: 96

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1996