Sacred Origins of Profound Things: The Stories Behind the Rites and Rituals of the World's Religions

Charles Panati, Author Penguin Books $18 (594p) ISBN 978-0-14-019533-0
Sprightly, wry and irreverent, Sacred Origins of Profound Things attempts to explain the arcana of religious practice and dogma like prayer, celestial personae, moral codes, festivals, saints, evil, heaven, hell and miracles. Panati digs up fascinating curios while clearly explaining fundamental tenets of the world's religions. But his Religion 101 remains an awkward hybrid of brief journalistic entries (Panati is a former science writer at Newsweek) and short essays. Furthermore, not all ""profound things"" are covered equally or thoroughly. The religions of Asia are barely touched on, and aboriginal religions not at all. Of Judaism, Islam and Christianity, it is the last, and Catholicism in particular, that forms by far the largest part of the book. While readers looking for a quick answer will find useful the explanations of why religions affirm this or that belief, they will be frustrated by the lack of an index and the book's narrative rather than encyclopedic structure. Illustrations not seen by PW. (Dec.)
Reviewed on: 12/02/1996
Release date: 12/01/1996
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