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He fills his head with culture/ He gives himself an ulcer.

Monday, July 26, 2004

Despite the mixed reviews below, I ordered this since Baptists (used to?) believe in the separation of church and state.


Encyclopedia of religious freedom. ed. by Catharine Cookson. Routledge, 2003. 555p bibl index afp ISBN 0-415-94181-4, $125.00

Choice: "A reliable starting place for research into many of the major historical issues involving religious freedom in 140 simply organized and clearly written articles...this volume will ground serious students of religion and history in the processes of learning and unprejudiced understanding of religious issues outside their own faith. Although the articles concentrate on religious freedom in the US, they provide a wealth of information that is both holistic and historically wide-ranging. The well-qualified contributors clearly and concisely explore the pressures on religious freedom and the impact these conflicts have had on the development of modern civilizations. The articles are alphabetically arranged and end with ample references that provide additional avenues for research and exploration. Summing Up: Recommended. All collections." Library Journal: “The articles tend to be clear, avoiding excessive complexity. This reviewer has three caveats, however. First, the book is heavily weighted toward the U.S. experience…Second, there are some odd omissions or emphases…Last, one article (“Islam”) reflects bias by denying the execution of Bahai’s in Iran…Those flaws aside, this is an important work on an essential principle of modern society, and no previous encyclopedias cover this area. Highly recommended for academic and public libraries.” School Library Journal: “Much prior knowledge is assumed regarding religious, cultural, and social history. The entries vary considerably in accessibility and clarity. The book would have benefited from a glossary of basic religious terms, as well as maps and charts showing religious affiliations over time. However, nothing similar is available for any age.” Reference and User Services Quarterly: “This volume is a good ready-reference work and will serve as a starting point for others engaged in in-depth research. There are many interesting articles on a wide range of topics. There are some puzzling aspects of the book that indicate that proofreading, copy editing, and general editing could have been more thorough.” Contemporary Review: “Prof. Cookson has assembled a vast amount of information that will prove extremely useful. The entries vary in quality. This is something of a curate’s egg: the weaker bits do little to advance man’s knowledge whilst the better bits give readers concise summaries of the topics covered.” Booklist: “The quality and usefulness of individual entries vary: two entries on Jehovah’s Witnesses, for example, provide an excellent overview; other entries, such as Middle East, attempt to survey very broad topics in too few words. The chronological scope and geographical range are impressive. Especially noteworthy are the generally excellent bibliographies at the end of each entry. The prominent sidebars provide useful and, occasionally, very hard-to-locate documentary material. This volume fills a void in reference sources on this increasingly important topic and is recommended for academic and large public libraries.”


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