One Island Many Faiths: The Experience of Religion in Britain

Rachel Morton, Author Thames & Hudson $27.5 (160p) ISBN 978-0-500-01987-0
This handsome coffee-table book offers an empathetic and vivid portrait of the practice of religion in Britain. After many decades of immigration, Britain's religious landscape goes far beyond the Church of England--Morton has gone out of her way to document everyone from Buddhists to Zoroastrians. Each two-page spread features a large, beautifully executed duotone photograph of a religious believer, accompanied by a few paragraphs in that believer's own words about personal faith. This spare design effectively conveys the unique personality and voice of each subject. The 70 portraits elicit the whole range of religious experience, from the ecstatic dancing of Sufis and Pentecostals to the meditation of Buddhists and Anglicans, as well as the fascinating interplay of interiority and community in almost every religion. A brief survey of the teachings of the major and minor world religions is wisely placed at the back, after the reader has already met those religions' living practitioners. Surprisingly, though, this survey neglects to provide some basic demographic data about the prevalence of the religions in Britain. Without that context, readers will have to wonder if Anglicans and other Christians are as much a minority as they appear to be here. But more tellingly, Morton fails, perhaps inevitably, to portray the most common religious option in Britain: inveterate secularism. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 04/03/2000
Release date: 04/01/2000
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