by Clare Doyle

I think the real understanding comes when we recognize our humanity in each other. That’s not just between blacks and whites. That’s between all religions as well.” — Phylicia Rashad, Huffington Post, November 2010

This issue of OTH Bookshelf on religions focuses on the lived experiences of people around the world in the 20th and 21st centuries, rather than theology, ethics or history. The areas studied in these works range from Bengal to Bulgaria, from Finland to Fiji, from Costa Rica to California. The authors turn a spotlight on Judaism, Islam, Christianity, Buddhism, Hinduism, Jainism, Orisha, Bon, and neopaganism. There are more than 100 academic titles from over 40 publishers. 

The OTH list of open access academic titles includes the book’s author or editor names, title and title remainder, year of publication, publisher, and open access format (PDF, EPUB, MOBI, etc.) Subject headings in the list are taken from WorldCat records or Library of Congress records, if available: if not, original cataloging of subject headings is provided in WorldCat format, for consistency. The DOI (Digital Object Identifier) of the book is given if it is available on the publisher’s website; if not, the URL is provided. The ISBNs listed are for the online version of the book if available, and if more than one online ISBN is available the ISBN for the PDF version has been preferred; if there is not an online or e-book ISBN, the ISBN featured on the publisher’s website is included. The book’s license type (Creative Commons, etc.), terms of use or copyright restrictions are included if these have been provided by the publisher.

If our readers are aware of any title or publishers that are not included, please feel free to submit them for consideration. (To be included in OTH Bookshelf, a book must be available to read online and/or download for free and must have been assigned an ISBN.) And we welcome your suggestions for topics that might be covered in a future issue of OTH Bookshelf.

OTH Bookshelf: Religions Around the World

TitleDOI or URLAuthor 1 LastAuthor 1 FirstEditor 1Author 2 LastAuthor 2 FirstEditor 2Author 3 LastAuthor 3 FirstEditor 3YearPublisherFormatISBNSubject 1Subject 2Subject 3Licence
Essays on the Modern Japanese Church: Christianity in Meiji Japan of Michigan PressEPUB, PDF, HTML978-0-472-90191-3Japan -- Church history -- 19th centuryJapan -- Religion -- 1868-1912Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International Licence
Amplifying Islam in the European Soundscape: Religious Pluralism and Secularism in the Netherlands10.5040/9781474291460ArabPooyan Tamimi2017Bloomsbury AcademicPDF978-1-4742-9144-6Adhan -- NetherlandsIslamic worship, rites & ceremoniesLoudness -- Social aspects -- NetherlandsCreative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International Licence
When Tibetan Meditation Goes Global: A Study of the Adaptation of Bon Religious Practices in the West Lisa2022De GruyterPDF9783110758870Bon (Tibetan religion)Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International Licence
Researching New Religious Movements: Responses and Redefinitions and sociology -- Great BritainReligion and sociology -- Great BritainCreative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 Licence
Dynamism and the Ageing of a Japanese ‘New’ Religion: Transformations and the Founder10.5040/9781350086548BaffelliEricaReaderIan2019Bloomsbury AcademicPDF978-1-3500-8652-4AgonshūBuddhism -- Japan -- DoctrinesJapan -- ReligionCreative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International Licence
Media and New Religions in Japan & FrancisEPUB9780203075036Japan -- Religion -- 1945-Mass media in religion -- JapanCreative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 Licence
Buddhist Statecraft in East Asia A.editor2022BrillPDF978-90-04-51022-7Buddhism and politics -- East AsiaBuddhism and state -- East AsiaCreative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International Licence
The Religious Identity of Young Muslim Women in Berlin: An Ethnographic Study in IslamMuslims--GermanyWomen--GermanyCreative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International Licence
Women, War and Islamic Radicalisation in Maryam Mahboob's Afghanistan University PressEPUB, MOBI, PDF9781900000000Mahboob, Maryam, 1955- -- Criticism and interpretationWomen -- Afghanistan -- Social conditions -- 21st centuryWomen's rights -- AfghanistanCreative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International Licence
The Stranger at the Feast: Prohibition and Mediation in an Ethiopian Orthodox Christian Community of California PressEPUB, MOBI, PDF978-0-520-96897-4Christianity -- EthiopiaMediation -- Religious aspects -- ChristianityTaboo -- Ethiopia -- Case studiesCreative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 Licence
Queer Spiritual Spaces: Sexuality and Sacred Places R.YipAndrew Kam-Tuck2016RoutledgeEPUB9781315603247Homosexuality -- Religious aspectsSpiritual lifeCreative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 Licence
Icelandic Folklore and the Cultural Memory of Religious Change10.17302/BL-9781641893763BryanEric Shane2021Arc Humanities PressPDF9781641893756Folklore -- Iceland Reformation--FolkloreOld Norse ChristianizationCreative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International Licence
Muslim Women’s Pilgrimage to Mecca and Beyond: Reconfiguring Gender, Religion, and Mobility pilgrims and pilgrimages -- Saudi Arabia -- MeccaWomen in IslamCreative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 Licence
Narrating the Pilgrimage to Mecca: Historical and Contemporary Accounts Marjoeditorvan LeeuwenRichardeditor2022BrillPDF978-90-04-51317-4Muslim pilgrims and pilgrimages -- Saudi Arabia -- MeccaCreative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International Licence
Asian American Religions: The Making and Remaking of Borders and Boundaries PressEPUB9781479834372Asian Americans -- ReligionCreative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License
Saddlebags, City Streets & Cyberspace: A History of Preaching in the Churches of Christ T.1995Abilene Christian University PressHTML9780891120179Churches of Christ -- HistoryPreachingCreative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License
African Perspectives on Religion and Climate Change M.editorKilonzoSusan M.editor2022RoutledgeEPUB9781003147909Africa -- Religious life and customsClimate change mitigation -- AfricaCreative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 Licence
Embracing Age: How Catholic Nuns Became Models of Aging Well I.2021Rutgers University PressPDF9782000000000Monastic and religious life of women -- United StatesAging -- Religious aspects -- Catholic ChurchCreative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International Licence
Embodying Black Religions in Africa and Its Diasporas S.editor2021Duke University PressPDF9781478092346Africa -- Religious life and customsReligion -- Social aspects -- AfricaReligion and culture -- AfricaCreative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International Licence
Shrines in Africa: History, Politics, and Society C.editor2009University of Calgary PressPDF978-1-55238-486-2 Shrines -- Africa -- HistoryShrines -- Social aspects -- AfricaAfrica -- ReligionCreative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial No Derivatives 3.0 Unported Licence
Witchcraft Continued: Popular Magic in Modern Europe BecourtWillemeditorDaviesOweneditor2020Manchester University PressPDF9781526137975Witchcraft -- Europe Religion and beliefsCreative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported Licence
Affective Trajectories: Religion and Emotion in African Cityscapesörg editor2020Duke University PressPDF9781478007166Psychology, Religious -- AfricaCities and towns -- Religious aspects -- ChristianityCreative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International Licence
Insistent Life: Principles for Bioethics in the Jain TraditionželjAna2022University of California PressEPUB, MOBI, PDF978-0-520-38057-8Medicine -- Religious aspects -- JainismBioethics -- Religious aspects -- JainismCreative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 Licence
Togetherness in South Africa: Religious Perspectives on Racism, Xenophobia and Economic Inequality10.4102/aosis.2017.tsa49Du RandJ.A.editorVorsterJ.M.editorVorsterN.editor2017AOSISPDF978-1-928396-23-9Racism -- South Africa -- Religious aspectsXenophobia -- South Africa -- Religious aspectsIncome distribution -- South Africa -- Religious aspectsCreative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License
Going to Pentecost: An Experimental Approach to Studies in Pentecostalism LleraMacCarthyMichelle2022Berghahn BooksEPUB, PDF 978-1-78920-139-0Pentecostalism -- AngolaPentecostalism -- New GuineaPentecostalism -- VanuatuCreative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International Licence
Christianity, Islam and Nationalism in Indonesia E.2005RoutledgeEPUB9780203007556Christianity -- IndonesiaIslam -- indonesiaNationalism -- Religious aspectsCreative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 Licence
Please Don't Wish Me a Merry Christmas: A Critical History of the Separation of Church and State M.1998NYU PressEPUB9780814728048Church and state -- United StatesChristianity and antisemitismCreative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License
The Religion of White Rage: Religious Fervor, White Workers and the Myth of Black Racial Progre C.editorGrayBiko MandelaeditorMartinLori Latriceeditor2020Ediburgh University PresEPUB, PDF9781474473729White people -- United States -- ReligionUnited States -- Race relationsWhite nationalismCreative Commons Attribution Licence
Talking it Through: Responses to Sorcery and Witchcraft Beliefs and Practices in Melanesia10.26530/OAPEN_569113ForysthMirandaEvesRichard2015Australian National University PressPDF9781925021561Witchcraft -- MelanesiaWitchcraft -- Papua New GuineaSorceryAll rights reserved
California Mennonites10.1353/book.36155FroeseBrian2015Johns Hopkins University PressEPUB, PDF9781421428420Mennonites -- CaliforniaCalifornia -- Church historyCreative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International Licence
Sacred Heritage: Monastic Archaeology, Identities, Beliefs University PressPDF, HTML9781108678087Monasticism and religious ordersChristian antiquitiesMaterial culture Religious aspectsCreative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International Licence
Making Muslim Women European: Voluntary Associations, Gender, and Islam in Post-Ottoman Bosnia and Yugoslavia (1878–1941) European University PressPDF978-963-386-368-8Muslim women -- Bosnia and Herzegovina -- Social conditionsMuslim women -- Yugoslavia -- Social conditionsMuslim women -- Societies and clubsCreative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
Rewriting Buddhism: Pali Literature and Monastic Reform in Sri Lanka, 1157–1270 PressPDF9781787355156BuddhismBuddhist monks -- Sri LankaCreative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Licence
Afghanistan’s Islam: From Conversion to the Taliban of California PressEPUB, MOBI, PDF978-0-520-96737-3Islam -- Afghanistan -- HistoryMuslims -- Afghanistan Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 Licence
The New Age of Russia: Occult and Esoteric Dimensions10.3726/b12474HagemeisterMichaeleditorMenzelBirgiteditor2013Peter Lang International Academic PublishersPDF9783866881983Cults -- Russia New Age movement -- Russia Occultism -- Russia Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 Licence
Claiming Notability for Women Activists in Religion D.editor2020ATLA Open PressEPUB, PDF978-1-949800-10-4Women -- ActivistsWomen and religionCreative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International Licence
Men in the Pulpit, Women in the Pew?: Addressing Gender Inequality in Africa Jurgens2012Sun PressPDF978-1-920338-78-7Women in the Reformed Church -- AfricaEquality -- Religious aspects -- Reformed ChurchAll rights reserved
Christianity and the Holocaust of Hungarian Jewry Y.1993NYU PressEPUB9780814744819Holocaust, Jewish (1939-1945) -- HungaryAntisemitism -- Hungary -- HistoryCreative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License
Being Young, Male and Muslim in Luton PressPDF978–1-78735–134-9Muslim men -- England -- Luton -- Social conditionsCreative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Licence
Horizons of Shamanism: A Triangular Approach to the History and Anthropology of Ecstatic Techniques University PressEPUB, MOBI, PDF978-91-7635-024-9ShamanismCreative Commons Attribution 4.0 Licence
Young American Muslims: Dynamics of Identity Afroseeditor2012Ediburgh University PresEPUB, PDF9780748669943Muslim youth -- United States -- AttitudesMuslims -- United States -- Ethnic identityCreative Commons Attribution Licence
Buddhism in Central Asia II: Practices and Rituals, Visual and Material TransferørensenHenrik H.editor2022BrillPDF978-90-04-50844-6Buddhism--Asia, CentralAsia, Central -- Religious life and customsCreative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International Licence
Religious Fundamentalism in the Age of PandemicäsehageNina2021transcript VerlagPDF9783839454855COVID-19 Pandemic, 2020- -- Religious aspectsReligious fundamentalismCreative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
Making Bodies Kosher: The Politics of Reproduction among Haredi Jews in England BooksEPUB, PDF 978-1-78920-228-1Orthodox Judaism -- England -- ManchesterMaternal and infant welfare -- England -- ManchesterMedicine -- Religious aspectsCreative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International Licence
Jewish Life and Culture in Germany after 1945: Sacred Spaces, Objects and Musical Traditions10.1515/9783110750812KesslerKatrineditor2022De Gruyter OldenbourgPDF9783110750812Synagogues -- GermanyJudaism -- LiturgyJews -- Germany -- Spiritual lifeCreative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Licence
Holy Hills of the Ozarks: Religion and Tourism in Branson, Missouri10.1353/book.3491KetchellAaron K.2007Johns Hopkins University PressEPUB, PDF9781421428352Branson (Mo.) -- Religious life and customsAmusements -- Religious aspects -- ChristianityPopular culture -- Religious aspectsCreative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International Licence
Forging the Ideal Educated Girl: The Production of Desirable Subjects in Muslim South Asia of California PressEPUB, MOBI, PDF9780500000000Muslim women -- Education -- South AsiaWomen -- South Asia -- Social conditionsCreative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 Licence
Indigenous Religion(s): Local Grounds, Global Networks Ellen2020RoutledgeEPUB9781003021513Indigenous peoples -- Religion -- Case studiesCreative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 Licence
The Language of Faith in Southern Africa: Spirit World, Power, Community, Holism10.4102/aosis.2019.BK117KroesbergenHermen2019AOSISPDF9781928396932Africa, Southern -- Religious life and customsAfrican languages -- Africa, Southern -- Religious aspects -- ChristianityCreative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License
Religion and Nationalism in Chinese Societies University PressPDF9789048535057China -- Religion -- HistoryNationalism -- Religious aspectsCreative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International Licence
Orthodox Christianity and Gender: Dynamics of Tradition, Culture and Lived Practice in the Orthodox Eastern ChurchGender identity -- Religious aspects -- ChristianityCreative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 Licence
Lifelong Religion as Habitus: Religious Practice among Displaced Karelian Orthodox Women in Finland10.1163/9789004326743KupariHelen 2016BrillPDF9789004326743Women in the Orthodox Eastern ChurchKarelians -- FinlandChristian women -- Spiritual lifeCreative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International Licence
Songs on the Road: Wandering Religious Poets in India, Tibet, and Japan LarssonStefaneditorAf EdholmKristoffereditor2021Stockholm University PressEPUB, MOBI, PDF978-91-7635-136-9Poetry -- Religious aspects -- IndiaPoetry -- Religious aspects -- JapanPoetry -- Religious aspects -- TibetCreative Commons Attribution 4.0 Licence
On the Significance of Religion in Violence Against Women and Girls RouxElisabet2022RoutledgeEPUB9781003169086Women -- Violence against -- Religious aspectCreative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 Licence
The Limits of Religious Tolerance Jay2017Amherst College PressEPUB, PDF, HTML978-1-943208-05-0Religious tolerance -- United StatesToleration -- Political aspectsAcademic freedom -- United StatesCreative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International Licence
American Jewish Loss after the Holocaust PressEPUB9780814753385Holocaust, Jewish (1939-1945) -- InfluenceJews -- United States -- IdentityCreative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License
Muslims and Christians in the Bulgarian Rhodopes: Studies on Religious (Anti)Syncretism Gruyter Open PolandPDF9783110440003Muslims -- BulgariaChristians -- BulgariaSyncretism (Religion) -- Rhodope MountainsCreative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 Licence
Contesting Religion: The Media Dynamics of Cultural Conflicts in Scandinavia GruyterPDF9783110502060Church controversies -- ScandinaviaInterfaith relationsMass media in religion -- ScandinaviaCreative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 Licence
Sufism in the West editor2006RoutledgeEPUB9780203087206Sufism -- North AmericaSufism -- North AmericaCreative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 Licence
Scriptures, Shrines, Scapegoats, and World Politics: Religious Sources of Conflict and Cooperation in the Modern Era A.2020University of Michigan PressEPUB, PDF, HTML978-0-472-90123-4Religion International relationsCreative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International Licence
Afro-Cuban Religious Experience: Cultural Reflections in Narrative Press of FloridaPDF9781947372610Cuba -- Religion -- 20th centuryBlack people -- Cuba -- ReligionCreative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives Licence
Buddhist Approaches to Human Rights: Dissonances and Resonances editor2015transcript VerlagPDF9783839412633Human rights -- Religious aspects -- BuddhismCreative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 3.0 Licence
Refugees and Religion: Ethnographic Studies of Global Trajectories10.5040/9781350167162MeyerBirgitvan der VeerPeter2021Bloomsbury AcademicPDF978-1-3501-6714-8 Emigration and immigration -- Religious aspectsRefugees-- Religious life-- EuropeCreative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International Licence
Jesuits in Africa: A Historical Narrative from Ignatius of Loyola to Pedro Arrupe -- Africa -- HistoryChristianity -- AfricaCreative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International Licence
Charismatic Christianity in Finland, Norway, and Sweden: Case Studies in Historical and Contemporary Developments MacmillanEPUB, PDF978-3-319-69614-0Pentecostalism -- ScandinaviaReligion -- Case studiesCreative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Licence
Constituting Religion: Islam, Liberal Rights, and the Malaysian State University PressPDF, HTML9781108539296Muslims – Legal status, laws, etc. – MalaysiaCivil rights -- MalaysiaCreative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International Licence
Muslims in Kenyan Politics: Political Involvement, Marginalization, and Minority Status10.26530/oapen_628770NdzovuHassan2014Northwestern University PressPDF9780810167872Muslims -- Political activity -- KenyaIslam and politics -- KenyaCreative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International Licence
Mission Moves: Cultivating Communities of the Gospel10.4102/aosis.2021.BK256NelMalaneditor2021AOSISPDF9781776341870Congregational churches -- South AfricaCreative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International Licence
Every Time I Feel the Spirit: Religious Experience and Ritual in an African American Church PressEPUB9780814758816African American women -- ReligionAfrican Methodist Episcopal ChurchAfrican American women -- Religious lifeCreative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License
Missions and Preaching: Connected and Decompartmentalised Perspectives from the Middle East and North Africa (19th-21st century) Karène SanchezeditorTurinoAnnalaura editor2022BrillPDF978-90-04-44963-3Missions -- Middle EastMissions--Africa, NorthPreachingCreative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International Licence
Islam on the Move: The Tablighi Jama'at in Southeast Asia A.2012Amsterdam University PressPDF9789048516827Islam -- MissionsTablighi Jama'at (Pakistan)Islam -- Southeast AsiaAll rights reserved
Boston Catholics : A History of the Church and Its People'ConnorThomas2019Northeastern University PressEPUB, PDF9781555538781Catholic Church -- Archdiocese of Boston (Mass.) -- HistoryBoston (Mass.) -- Church historyCreative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License
Sacred Lands: Aboriginal World Views, Claims, and Conflicts of Alberta PressPDF978-1-896445-07-6Indigenous peoples -- ReligionSacred spaceIndigenous peoples -- Land tenure
Pursuing Truth: How Gender Shaped Catholic Education at the College of Notre Dame of Maryland J.2021Cornell University PressEPUB, PDF9781500000000Catholic women -- Education (Higher)College of Notre Dame of Maryland -- HistoryCreative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
With Good Heart: Yaqui Beliefs and Ceremonies in Pascua Village Thayer2019University of Arizona PressHTML978-0-8165-4035-8Yaqui Indians -- Rites and ceremoniesMexico -- Yaqui -- RitualsCreative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International Licence
Christianity, Islam, and Orisa Religion: Three Traditions in Comparison and Interaction D. Y.2015University of California PressEPUB, MOBI, PDF978-0-520-96122-7Orisha religion -- Nigeria, SouthwestChristianity -- Nigeria, SouthwestIslam -- Nigeria, SouthwestCreative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 Licence
The Making of a Mosque with Female Imams: Serendipities in the Production of Danish Islams (Mosque officers) -- DenmarkWomen imams (Mosque officers) -- DenmarkFeminism -- Religious aspects -- IslamCreative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International Licence
The Custodians of the Gift: Fairy Beliefs, Holy Doubts and Heritage Paradoxes on a Fijian Island10.36253/978-88-5518-085-6PigliascoGuido2020Firenze University PressPDF9788855180856Fire walking -- Fiji -- MbenggaMbengga (Fiji) -- Religious life and customsRites and ceremonies -- Fiji -- MbenggaCreative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Licence
The Assemblies of God: Godly Love and the Revitalization of American Pentecostalism M.GreenJohn C.2010NYU PressEPUB9780814768396United States -- Religious life and customsPentecostalism -- United StatesAssemblies of GodCreative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License
A History of the United Jewish Appeal, 1939 to 1982 Lee2020Scholars PressEPUB, MOBI, PDF9781951498412United Jewish Appeal -- HistoryJews -- United States Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International Licence
Veiled Threats: Representing the Muslim Woman in Public Policy Discourses University PressPDF978-1447325185Muslim women--Great BritainMuslims--Great BritainCreative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International Licence
Crossing the Water and Keeping the Faith: Haitian Religion in Miami PressEPUB9781479802678Haitian Americans -- Florida -- Miami -- ReligionCreative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License
The Fight is on in Texas: A History of African American Churches of Christ in the Lone Star State, 1865-2000 J.2014Abilene Christian University PressHTML978-0-89112-533-4African Americans -- ReligionChurches of Christ -- Texas -- HistoryCreative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License
Rabbis and their Community: Studies in the Eastern European Orthodox Rabbinate in Montreal, 1896-1930 of Calgary PressPDF978-1-55238-436-7Jews -- Quebec (Province) -- Montreal -- History -- 20th centuryOrthodox Judaism -- Quebec (Province) -- Montreal -- History -- 20th centuryCreative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial No Derivatives 3.0 Unported Licence
Politics, Religion and Gender: Framing and Regulating the Veil women -- Clothing -- Government policy -- EuropeHijab (Islamic clothing) -- Law and legislation -- EuropeCreative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 Licence
Religions around the Arctic: Source Criticism and Comparisons RydvingHakaneditorKaikkonenKonstaeditor2022Stockholm University PressEPUB, MOBI, PDF978-91-7635-180-2Arctic Regions -- ReligionSami (European people) -- ReligionCreative Commons Attribution 4.0 Licence
Fire in the Canyon: Religion, Migration, and the Mexican Dream PressEPUB9780814724675El Alberto (Mexico) -- Religious life and customsEl Alberto (Mexico) -- Emigration and immigrationPentecostalism -- Social aspects -- Mexico -- El AlbertoCreative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License
The Place of Devotion: Siting and Experiencing Divinity in Bengal-Vaishnavism of California PressEPUB, MOBI, PDF978-0-520-96266-8Vaishnavism -- India -- BengalAnthropology of religion -- India --BengalSacred spaceCreative Commons Attribution 4.0 Licence
For His Cause A Little House: A Hundred Year History of Rumple Memorial Presbyterian Church B.2017Appalachian State UniversityEPUB, PDF9781469642031Blowing Rock (N.C.) -- Church historyRumple Memorial Presbyterian Church (Blowing Rock, N.C.)Creative Commons 3.0 United States Licence
Living in Refuge: Ritualization and Religiosity in a Christian and a Muslim Palestinian Refugee Camp in Lebanon VerlagPDF978-3-8376-6074-6Christianity IslamRefugee camps -- LebanonTerms of Use
The Americanization of the Jews CohenNorman S.1995NYU PressEPUB9780814788806Jews -- Cultural assimilation -- United StatesJudaism -- United StatesJews -- United States -- Social conditionsCreative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License
Music, Ritual, and Falasha History Humanities E-BookEPUB, MOBI9781630000000Church music -- EthiopiaJews, Ethiopian -- MusicCreative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International Licence
Religion and the COVID-19 Pandemic in Southern Africa (Disease) -- Africa, Southern -- Religious aspectsCrisis management -- Africa, Southern -- Religious aspectsCreative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 Licence
Native Americans and the Christian Right: The Gendered Politics of Unlikely Alliances University PressPDF9780822388876Indians of North America -- ReligionEvangelicalism -- United StatesSocial justice -- Religious aspects -- ChristianityCreative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International Licence
On Aboriginal Religion University PressPDF, HTML9781743323885Aboriginal Australians -- ReligionCreative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International Licence
The Demise of Religion: How Religions End, Die, or Dissipate10.5040/9781350162945StausbergMichaeleditorWrightStuart A.editorCusackCarole M.editor2020Bloomsbury AcademicPDF978-1-3501-6292-1Religion and culture -- Case studiesReligion and sociology -- Case studiesCreative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International Licence
Obeah, Orisa, and Religious Identity in Trinidad, Volume II, Orisa: Africana Nations and the Power of Black Sacred Imagination10.1215/9781478022152StewartDianne M.2022Duke University PressPDF978147802215Black people -- Trinidad and Tobago -- Trinidad --Religion Orisha religionReligions -- African influencesCreative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International Licence
Modern Islamic Thinking and Activism: Dynamics in the West and in the Middle East University PressPDF9789461661524Islam and the WestIslam and civil societyIslam and politicsCreative Commons Attribution 4.0 NonCommercial International Licence
Europe and the Gospel: Past Influences, Current Developments, Mission Challenges de PollEvert2013De Gruyter Open PolandPDF9788376560380Christianity -- EuropeChurch historyCreative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 3.0 Licence
Ideology and Atheism in the Soviet Union den BerckenWilliam2019De GruyterPDF9783110857375Atheism -- Soviet UnionAll rights reserved
Street Football, Gender and Muslim Youth in the Netherlands: Girls Who Kick Back10.5040/9781350205079Van den BogertKatrine2023Bloomsbury AcademicPDF978-1-3502-0505-5Muslim women -- NetherlandsSoccer for girls -- Social aspects -- NetherlandsNetherlands Ethnic relationsCreative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International Licence
Managing Sacralities: Competing and Converging Claims of Religious Heritage den HemelErnsteditorSaleminkOscareditorStengsIreneeditor2022Berghahn BooksEPUB, PDF978-1-80073-617-7Cultural property -- Protection -- Europe -- Religious aspectsSacred space -- Conservation and restorationReligion and cultureCreative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International Licence
Islam, Politics and Change10.26530/OAPEN_605451Van DijkKeesKapteinNico J.G.2016Leiden University PressPDF9789087282387Muslims -- Political activity -- IndonesiaIslam and politics -- Indonesia Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial No Derivatives 3.0 Unported Licence
Religion and the Making of Nigeria10.1215/9780822373872VaughanOlufemi2016Duke University PressPDF9780822373872Church and state -- Nigeria -- HistoryPolitical culture -- Nigeria -- Religious aspectsCreative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International Licence
Jews and Muslims in London and Amsterdam: Conflict and Cooperation, 1990-2020 J.WiegersGerard A.2022RoutledgeEPUB9781003331643Islam -- Relations -- Judaism -- England -- LondonJudaism -- Relations -- Islam -- Netherlands -- AmsterdamInterfaith relationsCreative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 Licence
Norse Revival: Transformations of Germanic Neopaganism10.1163/9789004309517Von SchnurbeinStefanie2016BrillPDF9789004309517Neopaganiism -- GermanyNorse cultsCreative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Licence
The Virgin Mary across Cultures: Devotion among Costa Rican Catholic and Finnish Orthodox Women, Blessed Virgin, Saint Devotion to -- Costa RicaMary, Blessed Virgin, Saint Devotion to -- FinlandChristianity -- MariologyCreative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 Licence
Red Dynamite: Culture Wars, and Anticommunism in America R.2022Cornell University PressPDF9781501759307Evolution (Biology) -- Study and teaching -- Political aspects -- United StatesAnti-communist movementsCreative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License
Mountain, Water, Rock, God: Understanding Kedarnath in the Twenty-First Century of California PressEPUB, MOBI, PDF978-0-520-97015-1Ecology -- Religious aspects -- HinduismKidārnāṭh (Temple : Kedāranātha, India)PilgrimageCreative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 Licence
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by David D. Esselstrom

In 1961, my eldest brother, Keith, was discharged from the Army’s 101st Airborne division. From his last duty station in Okinawa, he returned to La Crescenta, California, with a third-degree black belt in Karate, a Samurai sword with three-foot blade, and the conviction that Gautama Buddha, not Jesus Christ, had had it right. I remember watching him unpack his duffel bag. He pulled out a bright red carton of Pall Mall cigarettes, a bayonet, and a packet of books, among them Alan Watts’ The Way of Zen and Jack Kerouac’s The Dharma Bums

My eldest brother, eight and a half years older than I, had it right, in my eyes. He held my bike when I learned to ride and laughed as I kept yelling for him to “let go, let go, I can do it, let go.” He was laughing because he had let go quite some time before. He took me fishing in the streams of the San Gabriel Mountains, taught me how to work a salmon egg onto a hook. He showed me how to step through and string a bow, how to rest my eyes on the target, let slip the arrow and feel the arc of its flight out from the bow, up through air, and into the cardboard box stuffed with newspapers. 

We had our first discussion about religion when I was twelve. I more or less argued Pascal’s Wager—risking delusion is a better bet than risking damnation. Keith ridiculed the position as being beneath his dignity. I felt embarrassed that it was not beneath my own. Looking at it through Keith’s eyes, Christianity seemed a religion for wimps and cowards, a refuge of the weak and afraid. Mostly because of Keith, I began, at thirteen, working my way through The Way of Zen. I remember reaching what I thought at the time was a state of satori early one morning as I tossed copies of the Los Angeles Examiner to the second-floor apartments of a building in Montrose.

I discovered later that Keith and I were typical members of a restless generation, young people coming of age in the sixties. The fifties began in 1948 with the advent of commercial television and ended with the death of John Kennedy in ’63. The sixties started—in earnest—in 1964 with the Beatles’ first tour of the U.S. An interest in the religion and philosophy of Asia that flowered in the forties and fifties in the work of Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg as a garden of aesthetic inspiration took root in the sixties in the soil of America’s discontented youth, as much a reaction against everything domestic as an embracing of things mysterious, exotic, and other. Things Eastern, or quasi-Eastern, became part of our cultural landscape—from Zen to Transcendental Meditation, from Hare Krishna to the Bagwan, from being Blissed-out with the Guru Mahara Ji to “getting it” with Ehard Seminars Training. 

We can think of America’s flirtation with the philosophies and religions from Asia as an encounter with the “other.” But we can’t really understand the nature of this encounter nor what results from it until we see that all such encounters are problematic.

There are two ways of looking at “the other.” Sam Keen has noted that throughout history we have often demonized the other, seeing what is different as something that is frightening and therefore must be strictly controlled or ruthlessly abolished. In wartime, the enemy is conceived of as evil, his motives base, his actions reprehensible. Our actions, on the other hand, are seen as necessary, as lesser evils needed to prevent greater ones. There is always a qualitative difference between us and them. When “the other” is closer to us we deal with it in a less brutal, but still brutalizing, fashion. If we dismiss it—usually out of fear or ignorance or arrogance, although the three are often the same—we then ghettoize the other, marginalizing a people, taking away the voice of a culture by ignoring it. If we do not fear it, we pretend to embrace it, or rather absorb the other, using it, making differences commodities that can be worn or heard or watched or, in some other way, consumed. 

The second way of looking at “the other” is to give it unwarranted value. This is the “greener grass” phenomenon. What is over there must be better than what is over here. Chekov’s “Three Sisters” want to get to Moscow. Everything will be better in Moscow. Huck Finn takes off for the west where a man can breathe. I always thought Virginia and Sharon who lived across the driveway from me in the fifties had the better toys. Keith, my eldest brother, thought the quieting of the mind and body before doing battle on the tatami mats with an opponent was better discipline than quiet reflection on a passage of the Bible. 

An anecdote from the sixties might help illustrate these two perspectives. A dinner table argument between a teenager and her father began when the young woman said she admired a friend who had taken up the study of Transcendental Meditation. The father was a first confused, then incensed. Her point was that the friend had found something of spiritual value in his practice. The father’s irritation was with anyone finding anything of value from a culture where indoor plumbing was a rarity. 

The problem is that both of these ways of looking at and dealing with the other—to denigrate or to glorify—are counter-productive. Dismissal leads to loss. Not only is marginalization—whether cultural, economic, or social—unjust to those people who are marginalized, but it costs those people doing the marginalizing as well. The father in the preceding anecdote has trouble valuing any culture he cannot measure by his own yardstick of material wellbeing. Because he can’t or won’t do so, he is cut off from interacting with his daughter. He cannot understand her fascination with emotional or spiritual values that have little to do with material things.

But what about the other side? Glorification of the other. Is this dangerous as well? I think it is. And my brother and myself are cases in point. If we value something before we understand it, we run the risk of chipping away at that value as our understanding grows, a paradoxical but not uncommon phenomenon. I’m reminded of a young woman with whom I went to high school. I was honored by her friendship since she was the smartest student in our school, a delightful conversationalist, and a brilliant actress. She went on to a college in Southern California because of her admiration for the professors there in the English and Theater Arts departments. Two years later when I asked her how things were going, she seemed a bit disappointed. She said she’d found out something quite disconcerting about her professors. “What’s that?” I asked. “They’re human,” she said. “Familiarity breeds contempt” does not tell us something about the situation; it tells us something about ourselves. 

Here’s another illustration. When we are children, “the other” is the world of the grown-ups. Bruno Bettelheim maintains that for the child, the adult world is frightening because it is, in fact, unimaginable. The difference between the two realms is qualitative. Imagine how different our lives would be if we really were, as adults, as fearless, as carefree, as certain as we imagined adulthood to be when we were children. One of the more depressing things you can tell a young person is “These are the best years of your life.” 

Worse than the risk of disillusionment, however, is what happens to our relationship to what is in our own backyard. To glorify the foreign often involves the denigration of the domestic. It’s not only a question of comparative values. Selection always involves value judgments. How we choose to spend our time indicates what we value. But the real danger is one of dynamics rather than status. When one chooses to value “the other ” what often happens is that one’s understanding of one’s own cultural heritage freezes, stops, ceases to grow—may indeed begin to whither. 

For example, my growing understanding of the religious tradition in which I was raised stopped at about my junior year of high school. I thought I understood it, and what I thought I understood, I didn’t like. An understanding that is not growing, that is not dynamic, withers. Luckily for me, my understanding, my relationship with my own tradition, began to show signs of life in the late seventies because of my teaching. I was offering a few courses through Marylhurst college in Lake Oswego, Oregon—I believe the name when I was there was Marylhurst Center for Life-long Learning. Sister Marilyn Guldan, head of the Humanities Division, developed a correspondence/brief residency course on “The Convergence of East-West Thought.” She threw a little work to this hungry adjunct instructor by letting me team-teach the course with her. Initially, I was shocked. I believed that there was no convergence between what I thought I knew of Eastern thought and what I thought I knew of Western thought. What I discovered is that I didn’t know either, and that I had used my exposure to the one as an excuse to stop thinking about both. 

I learned that not only is there a rich tradition of Christian mysticism, but that Christian scholars had long been in dialogue with their counterparts in Japan and India. Later, when I was teaching at the University of Portland, Sister Joan Salfield and I formed the core of a weekly meditation group. My brother never had this opportunity to re-examine what he thought he had learned about others and about himself. The danger is that in glorifying the foreign—the exotic, the different—we marginalize ourselves and our own traditions. 

Another example is an experience that occurred to a friend of mine who grew up outside of any specific religious tradition. In a college course which required students to observe and report on religious services outside their own, he chose to attend a Christian service at a Protestant evangelical church. Noting that his peers were reporting on their experiences in positive and respectful terms, he did the same. His report was deemed unacceptable. When he rewrote the report and placed his observations in more negative terms, his efforts were praised, his insight encouraged. The graduate students reacting to my friend’s efforts remind me of my brother and his inability to see his own tradition as valuable, as worthy of study, as something that he perhaps does not yet fully understand. 

We marginalize that which we do not understand, and often that which we think we do. Some certainties make arguments possible; others foreclose all discussion. We can reach agreement if we both affirm that agreement is possible. And, as Kenneth Burke tells us, that is only possible if both of us are willing to change, if both of us are willing to admit that our own certainties are something less than absolute. Believing, because of fear or anger or ignorance, that you know enough about other people to warrant their separation—as with the Americans of Japanese descent interned during WW II—is needlessly damaging to our society. Believing that you know all you need to about yourself and your world is an unnecessary amputation of the self. 

Therefore, if we don’t want to push others away nor do we want to deny ourselves and our heritage, how can we be accepting of other traditions without adhering to them, how can we be respectful of other points of view while remaining steadfast and true to our own? This is one of those questions that can be answered by turning to the examples given us in literature. The answer is that the question cannot be viewed as a matter of stance—where do I stand? what do I believe? what do I know?—but as a matter of dynamics—what can I learn? where can the discussion lead? what are the opportunities for fuller appreciation of one tradition by way of the others? 

We marginalize that which we do not understand, and often that which we think we do.

Some writers have shown us that interest and respect need not be glorification. We can learn how this is done from the literature that explores the relationship between the other and ourselves without marginalizing either the other—or ourselves. From Forster’s Passage to India to Hesse’s Siddhartha to Huxley’s Island to Pirsig’s Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, Western writers have been intrigued by the East, not so much as a substitute for their own traditions but as way of getting some distance from which to view and critique those traditions. 

But the critique itself is not Eastern but Western in nature and intent. This is the case because our writers—and others—in the current century have been looking for answers in the East to questions that can only be posed in the West. These are questions of identity and purpose, questions that—as I understand the major currents of thought in Hinduism and Buddhism—are unasked because they are unaskable from inside these traditions. Dr. D.T. Suzuki was criticized by those in his own tradition when, partly as a result of Alan Watts’ writing about Zen, he decided to speak to a Western audience. “The way that can speak its name is not the real way,” says the Tao te Ching.

Literature, as we know it in the West, is a production of human consciousness attempting through language to form, define, and explain the mystery of individual personhood. Literature then is both a culmination and a celebration of individual identity. Yet what fascinates Western writers about the East is the absence of the very dependence on identity that makes such questions possible. The problem for all of us is that identity in its own fulfillment doesn’t supply satisfaction. I know who I am and I know I’m not happy. The paradox is that we, in the West at least, want to know who we are and have happiness at the same time. In fact, the way we think of happiness, as a possession, underscores this paradox. Our own traditions have called the problem with this to our attention several times. “The first shall be last.” “Who loses her life shall gain it.”

The answer? It’s a matter of maintaining a healthy relationship. In our own tradition we are exhorted to love the other as we love ourselves, not less than, not more than, and not in place of. It is in our dynamic relationship with others that we form and define ourselves. To shorten that relationship on either end is deadening; to keep it open is frightening because it leads to a richer, deeper life. 

Photo credit: Eddy Van 300, via Flickr. CC BY-SA 2.0.

About the Author

David Esselstrom, Ph.D., is a teacher and writer who encourages students to express themselves clearly and creatively. He has published fiction and journalism, and has written extensively for the stage and screen. Esselstrom combines his scholarly interests and creative projects with his passion for teaching in such courses as creative writing, composition, literature, and film and media.  Via Azusa Pacific University.