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Encyclopaedia of New Religions

Author: Christopher Partridge (editor)
Published By: Lion (Oxford)
Pages: 445
Price: £14.99
ISBN: 0 7459 5219 4

Reviewed by Alun Brookfield.

The publication of this excellent volume, full of fascinating detail and illuminated by copious colour photographs, completes a trio of publications from Lion on the subject of the world’s religions. The others are: The New Lion Handbook: The World’s Religions (ISBN 0 7459 5128 7) which gives details of the world’s great and historic religions; and A Pocket Guide to Sects and New Religions (ISBN 0 7459 5159 7) which does what it says on the tin, so to speak.

This present volume now enters into much greater detail about new religious movements, sects and alternative spiritualities. The various articles are grouped in terms of where they have their roots, with several pages describing the original religion and a page or two devoted to each of the individual religions/sects/spiritualities which arise from it.

The articles are easy to read and cover a vast range, including celebrity-centred religions (such as Elvis or Princess Diana worship), UFO believers and doomsday cults, as well as much better known groups such as the Baha’I faith and the various sects of Islam. Bearing this in mind, it is a near miracle that the articles contain no judgement of the religions they describe, maintaining an exceptional and admirable level of objectivity throughout.

If you need a quick crash-course on the beliefs of someone in your parish, this is the book to have on your shelf! And for a mere £14.99, it’s excellent value as well. It’s actually so fascinating that it works well as a ‘coffee-table book’ - your visitors will hardly be able to resist the temptation to pick it up and thumb through it. Lion are to be commended for making such a wealth of information available in such an attractive form and at such an attractive price.

Alun Brookfield

Editor of Ministry Today

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You are reading Issue 38 of Ministry Today, published in November 2006.

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