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Gods in the Global Village

Gods in the Global Village
The World's Religions in Sociological Perspective

Fourth Edition

April 2015 | 416 pages | SAGE Publications, Inc
In a world plagued by religious conflict, how can the various religious and secular traditions coexist peacefully on the planet? And, what role does sociology play in helping us understand the state of religious life in a globalizing world? In the Fourth Edition of Gods in the Global Village, author Lester Kurtz continues to address these questions. This text is an engaging, thought-provoking examination of the relationships among the major faith traditions that inform the thinking and ethical standards of most people in the emerging global social order. Thoroughly updated to reflect recent events, the book discusses the role of religion in our daily lives and global politics, and the ways in which religion is both an agent of, and barrier to, social change.

About the Author
1. Religious Life in the Global Village
Religion and the Globalization of Social Life

Religion and the Sociological Tradition

Tools of the Trade

Three Pillars of Analysis: Beliefs, Rituals, and Institutions

Major Themes in the Sociology of Religion

2. A Sociological Tour: Turning East
Types of Religious Traditions

Hinduism, or Sanatana Dharma



Religious Life in China and East Asia

3. The Tour: Western Religions - Judaism, Christianity, and Islam
Prolegomena: The Ancient Greeks




Kinship Network Continuities in Judaism and Islam

The Social Construction of Religious Traditions

The Elementary Forms of Religious Life

4. Indigenous Religions
Indigenous Beliefs

Indigenous Rituals

Indigenous Institutions

Indigenous Environmentalism

5. The Religious Ethos
Constructing a Religious Ethos

Religion and Identity Construction

Religion and Stratification

Religious Taboo Lines and Ethical Systems

Religion and Sexuality

Religion and Politics

The Ethos of the Global Village

6. Modernism and Multiculturalism
From Local to Cosmopolitan

The Challenge of Modernism

Historical Outcomes of the Modernist Crisis

The Modernist Crisis and the 21st Century

The Crisis of Multiculturalism

7. Religious Movements for a New Century
Civil Religion and Nationalism

Religious Syncretism and Alternative Religious Movements

New Forms of Religiosity

Women’s Movements

Religious Environmental Movements

Constructing and Reconstructing Religious Life

8. Religion and Social Conflict
A Theory of Religious Conflict

Religion and the Problem of Violence

Religious Contributions to Nonviolence

Islam and Nonviolence

Chaos or Community?


very useable for seminar "pop & religion"

Professor Dr. Christoph Jacke
Popular Music and Media, University of Paderborn
September 16, 2015
Key features


  • A new section on Greek religion and mythology expands the historical scope of this exploration of religion
  • A new section on the Sunni-Shia conflict in Islam and its relationship to contemporary war, terrorism, and political violence exposes readers to this incredibly timely issue
  • A thoroughly revised, expanded, and updated chapter on indigenous religions provides an up-to-date examination of this fascinating topic
  • New section on climate change issues and the role of the faith traditions, including the emergence of “Green Evangelicals” and new coalitions across theological lines to address environmental issues, introduces readers to yet another modern-day topic
  • New material has been added on women and religion, including the role of women in the traditions, scriptures and institutions of the major religions, to further expand the reach of this text
  • Information about religious practices and beliefs has been updated throughout


  • Examines the diversity of religious life in today’s world: The book introduces students to the fundamentals of each of the major world religions—Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam—as well as the variety of indigenous traditions around the globe. At the same time, it considers the various global interconnections among beliefs and believers, as well as both the promise and problems spiritual traditions pose for today's world
  • Challenges students to overcome biases: The book assumes that all knowledge is shaped by the social context of the knower; therefore, both religious traditions and our studies of them are shaped by the context in which we construct them. The question that faces us as a human community is not "Which religious tradition is true?" but "How can we enable the various religious and secular traditions to coexist peacefully?"
  • Reexamines conventional understandings about the role of religion: The sociology of religion provides invaluable insight into the most pressing social problems. This book does not suggest sociologists should lead the way in solving these problems; rather, it encourages them to assess the role of religion in the global community and become involved in the lively debates about the future of humanity

New section on Ancient Greek religion, which had a profound impact on Western civilization, from politics to art and architecture, as well as the Western religions, especially Christianity.


New section on the Sunni-Shia divide in Islam, a centuries-old conflict that has been revitalized by current events and political power struggles, and led to the rise rise of the so-called “Islamic State of Iraq and Syria” (ISIS). This section focuses on the role of religion in the conflict, providing an historical overview and sociological perspective.


Indigenous religions chapter has been expanded and updated.

The role of faith traditions in the debate about climate change is discussed.

Sunstantial new scholarship about the role of women across many religious traditions has been added.


Sample Materials & Chapters

Chapter 3

Chapter 7

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