Now I'm getting the chance to read books I didn't have time for before. Think of me whenever you see the slogan "So many books, so little time!" Now I've got the time.  Cheers, Fred.

The World’s Religions: Our Great Wisdom Traditions

Image of The World's Religions: Our Great Wisdom Traditions
Book Number: 
Date Fred Read: 
February 2003
Fred's Rating: 
Huston Smith
Total Pages: 
HarperOne; Rev Rep edition

This is a revised and updated edition of Huston Smith's “The Religions of Man.” The revision reflects feedback from the five-part PBS series where Bill Moyers interviewed Huston Smith. (For his books I've read, click on his name.)

This book is considered by some as a classic on the world’s religions. It discusses Hinduism, Buddhism, Confucianism, Taoism, Islam, Judaism, and Christianity, plus (in the revision) native traditions of Australia, Africa, Oceania and America. It explores the essential elements and teachings of these faiths, emphasizing the inner – rather than the institutional – dimensions of these religions. He devotes special attention to Zen and Tibetan Buddhism, Sufism (the mystical dimension of Islam), and the teachings of Jesus. I feel that he has succeeded in his attempts to convey the special appeal and gifts of each of these traditions. He places special emphasis on their hold on the human heart and imagination. Smith has the knowledge to “cut to the essence.” I thoroughly enjoyed this book, since he writes so well and focuses on orthodoxy (people’s beliefs), which is my greatest interest. The institutional aspects Smith excludes are in John Renard’s “Handy Religion Answer Book” (book 12).

Smith skips orthopraxy (practice or ritual), but orthodoxy and orthopraxy do interact, so Smith misses this aspect. However, he searches for and identifies the common elements in the “world’s wisdom traditions” and has the talent to express this quite well. Overall, I think Huston Smith's book is far more stimulating, insightful and thought-provoking. And you may learn a lot! I initially gave this book the top rating of 5 stars. Since I've added a few hundred since this review, I would now elevate its rating to "Think 6 stars" - a rating I've given very few books.

For a detailed look at the contents of this book, just click on the web site:

On this web site I recommend you use the option "Click to LOOK INSIDE" in particular to see the book's Table of Contents that names the various topics covered for each religion.

Get this Book