'A Little History of Religion' - Robert Holloway - Review

Religion has never ceased to be central to the human story, whether carved onto the walls of caves, or on the skylines of cities, explanations of the supernatural have never been far from society.  Whether you believe in it or not, religion has done much good to the human story, for instance common belief in a deity allowed band and tribal level societies to group together and collaborate.  However, it has also been a force for great evils, whether that be genocide or the extreme scaremongering of the decadent Catholic Church.  This has not changed today, religiously motivated charity groups have achieved humanitarian wonders, and ancient philosophies continue to instil hope and benevolence in the hearts of their followers.   However, in the godless age of 'angry religion' it is increasingly being seen as the cause of all human violence, and an antique replaced by science and consumerism.  Various depictions in the media, and my encounters of Islam and Zoroastrianism in research encourage dme to read more on this subject.

If you also seek to understand the world of religion, from the primeval conditions that gave rise to Hinduism, to the modern developments of Scientology look no further than this compelling read.  Holloway, the former Bishop of Edinburgh, famously resigned from the epistocasity after publicly announcing that he no longer believed in God.  He now identifies as an agnostic, and harbours no grudges against organised religion, as shown by his brilliantly respectful and impartial depiction of the world's religions.  He evaluates each religion with the same approach; a prophet receives spiritual enlightenment of the supernatural realm and preaches his revelations.  He is seen as a heretic by the establishment, often for economic as well as ideological reasons, and is driven away to form his own religion distinct from the dominant religion.  He dies.  His teachings are usually recorded after his death.  Following the teachings, whether accurate or not, as the second generation of followers sees fit gives rise to organised religion.  This eventually bears no resemblance to the visions and teachings of its founder, as shown by Catholic Church on the verge of the bloody Reformation that followed from Luther's 95 theses.  This enhances divisions within the religion.

The book imparted brilliant religious concepts, and gave me good understanding of how a religion grows and develops from revelations to a lifestyle and comprehensive ideology.  I feel the only omission was Afro-Carribean religions such as Voodoo and Rastifarianism, on which I have previously written.  This is likely because he does not recognise them as legitimate religions, but as history continually demonstrates, this heretical status is the embryo
of religion.

The book gets 4.5/5   


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