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Books on world’s religions answer questions on other faiths

Iwa ni csin
ó from the African Yoruba people of Nigeria, a proverb translated as “Character is Religion”By Gretchen Beilfuss Witt
Rowan Public Library
A friend of mine recently became a member of the Baha’i faith, and being a student of religions, I was eager to find out a little more about what drew my friend in this direction.
With the pluralism of religion in North America, it behooves us to become more familiar with the main tenets of many faiths in order to understand our fellow citizens.
We know that it is easy to misunderstand and misinterpret the actions of followers of a particular doctrine when little is known about a belief system.
The library has, on its new book shelf, a World Religions series by Facts on File worth considering. Each title in the series takes a look at the history of a particular faith and where it exists predominantly in the world, illustrating its location with maps as well as pictures and writings.
The African Religion book looks at how the more than 6,000 native African faiths, how they differ from Christianity and Islam, the basic beliefs, rituals and current practices.
Some of the beliefs include the idea that human society is communal, encompassing the living, those who have yet to be born and those who have died (the living-dead). Most African practices include spirit guardians, spirits of the departed and the human need to interact with the spiritual world all around them. There are charts that indicate faiths geographically as well as whether they are obsolete or still in practice.
Other titles in the series include Sikhism, a religion chiefly practiced in India. Sikhism is said to be one of the youngest religions of the world at only 500 years old.
The Sikhs are known for their distinctive turbans and their creed of unity. Name-giving ceremonies include reading of sacred texts and placing ritual sugar-water, Amrit, in a child’s mouth.
Hinduism is another religion primarily observed in India and is the third-largest religion, ranking just after Christianity and Islam. The text describes the roots of Hinduism as well as the political aspects, social duties including Dharma or the responsibility of maintaining the cosmic harmony of the world and Hindus in the modern age.
Descriptions and photographs of the fantastic art associated with Hindu places of worship are also incorporated within the text. Additional books in the series cover Islam, Buddhism, Confucianism, Bahai’i, Judaism and Protestantism.
Along with this series, other new offerings should be considered. Martin Marty, well-known scholar and faculty member of the University of Chicago, elucidates the global history of Christianity in “The Christian World.” He follows Christianity from historical and sociological perspectives as it has spread and how it has exerted influence throughout the world. It is a fascinating and “remarkable testament to the teachings of Christ.”
And lastly, don’t miss “Bless the Space Between Us,” a book of blessings by John O’Donohue, a lovely collection of poems and prose about life’s thresholds, offering encouragement on the journey of life as we transition from the known to the unknown.
Holiday closing: Rowan Public Library headquarters and all branches will be closed Monday, May 26, for Memorial Day.
Tuesday movies: May is Doris Day Movie Month. Come to headquarters at 6:30 p.m. Free refreshments will be served. Tuesday, “Send Me No Flowers”; May 27, “Calamity Jane.”
May computer classes: Headquarters ó Monday, 7 p.m., Creating Web Pages; Thursday, 1:30 p.m., Computer Survival Tips. South ó Thursday, 11 a.m., Genealogy ó Saving Stuff.
Displays: South ó student art from South Rowan High School.Children’s programs: Registration begins Monday for this year’s Summer Reading Program, “Catch the Reading Bug!” at headquarters and East and South branches.
Literacy: Call the Rowan County Literacy Council at 704-216-8266 for more information on teaching or receiving literacy tutoring for English speakers or for those for whom English is a second language.
Web site: For a listing of all library programs at all library locations, www.rowanpubliclibrary. org.

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