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Published On: Tue, Aug 29th, 2017

Learn More About the World’s Great Religions With These 7 Resources

Religion is a controversial topic. Anyone with even a passing understanding of world history knows that religious disputes lay at the heart of some of the planet’s most destructive conflicts. When 85% of humanity adheres to one organized system of belief or another, clashes seem all but inevitable.

Inter- and intra-faith conflicts arise for many reasons, and all are unique in their own right. But many share a relatively straightforward common denominator: lack of understanding between well-intentioned believers.

Perhaps some gaps are unbridgeable, but we’d be wise not to count out the ameliorative power of education. Learning enough to understand where your interlocutor (or adversary) is coming from doesn’t require you to reorder your beliefs or convert to her faith. It simply demands an open mind and full heart.

photo condesign via Pixabay

If you’re weary of arguing over religion, or simply want to learn more about what the world’s faithful believe, use any of these seven resources to get started.

  1. Torah.org

Torah.org is a great introductory resource for those curious about the origins of Judaism and the teachings of the Torah, the religion’s holy book.

The website’s “Torah portion” is broken up into three sections: beginner, intermediate, and advanced. If you’re a first-time Torah reader, check out the first — you’ll find easy-to-interpret readings with plenty of guidance. As your fluency improves, move along through the ranks until you’re a practiced consumer of advanced content.

Torah.org also has extensive programming around Jewish holidays, prayers, and life practices, as well as continuing-education resources to complement Torah study.

  1. Hindu Education Foundation USA

Hindu Education Foundation USA (HEF) is Hinduism’s most visible foothold in an increasingly multicultural America. It’s devoted to building awareness and understanding of the world’s third most-popular organized religion among Americans of all faiths, including non-Hindus and lapsed Hindus. It’s heavily involved in efforts to incorporate Hinduism into general-education textbooks used in public and non-parochial private schools.

Though HEF takes an ecumenical approach to its work, it does have a political component. Per HEF’s website, its mission includes “correcting misconceptions, stereotypes and biases against Hindus and enriching the understanding about Indian civilization and Hinduism in America.”

  1. Bayyinah TV

Bayyinah TV is a comprehensive resource for all students of Islam, from curious non-adherents to observant believers. It includes more than 2,000 hours of unique educational videos narrated by noted scholars and clerics, exclusive online Quran courses, and an approachable Arabic curriculum that renders one of the world’s most widely spoken languages (and the tongue in which the Quran is written) accessible to everyday English speakers.

  1. Christianity Today

Christianity Today is a thriving publication and brand family devoted in part to topical issues that affect the Christian faith and faithful. It’s more than a glossy mag, though: Christianity Today includes extensive retrospectives on Christian history and a slew of resources for educators. There’s no denominational focus, so readers enjoy a nice overview of the diverse landscape of modern Christianity.

  1. Sikhs.org

Sikhs.org is devoted to one of the world’s most misunderstood religions. If you read nothing else on the site, check out the five “philosophy and beliefs” statements outlined on the home page. Unless you’re a practicing Sikh or a devoted scholar of world religion, it’s virtually certain that you’ll learn something new there.

If you have more time, check out the extensive sections on Sikh history, scripture, and lifeways. There’s lots to learn here.

  1. Buddhanet

Buddhism is another misunderstood faith. Contrary to popular belief, it’s actually a rigorous, complex discipline. For a quick overview of Buddhism and Buddhist practices, check out Buddhanet’s “5 minute guide — a FAQ-style overview of common questions and misconceptions.

  1. GreenFaith

GreenFaith is a non-denominational, ecumenical resource for those interested in the intersection of religion and environmental justice. The site features four faith-specific portals: Christianity, Islam, Judaism, and Buddhism. All feature wisdom, teachings, and scripture related to environmental stewardship — powerful reminders that the founding fathers of the world’s great faiths cared just as deeply for the planet as we do.

Learning Is a Journey, Not a Destination

Life is fuller and richer when we commit to lifelong learning — when we break outside our narrow spheres of comfort and seek new ideas that challenge our very understanding of the world.

Accept that knowledge itself is the journey, not the destination, and you’ll find doors opening everywhere you look. Whether you’re educating yourself about the world’s great religions, learning a new language, or discovering the infinite variety of the natural world, there’s no desire that the thirst for new perspectives can’t quench.

So, what are you waiting for? It’s time to crack those books. You’ve got a lifetime of learning to enjoy.

Author: Zainab Sheikh

cover of a Quran photo by crystalina via wikimedia commons

About the Author

- Writer and Co-Founder of The Global Dispatch, Brandon has been covering news, offering commentary for years, beginning professional in 2008 on sites like Examiner and blogs: Desk of Brian, Crazed Fanboy. Appearing on several radio shows, Brandon has hosted Dispatch Radio, written his first novel (The Rise of the Templar) will be a licensed Assembly of God Pastor by the Spring of 2017. "Why do we do this?" I was asked and the answer is simple. "I just want the truth. I want a source of information that tells me what's going and clearly attempts to separate opinion from fact. Set aside left and right, old and young, just point to the world and say, 'Look!'" To Contact Brandon email [email protected] ATTN: BRANDON

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