View Full Version : Need literature suggestions for world religions study

06-30-2013, 11:17 AM
This next year, my dd(14) will be doing a study comparing the religions of the world. I have a pretty good idea of the books and other material we will be using to learn about the various religions. Now, I am trying to put together the language arts portion of her year. I would like to have her literature tie in with the various religions she is studying. I have found many world literature programs, but they're not quite what I want. I would like to find books (historical fiction, biographies, poetry, etc) that directly relate the the specific religion she is studying at the moment. For example, when she studies Judaism, I will have her read The Chosen by Chaim Potak.

Does anyone have any literature suggestions to go along with other religions? I know for certain that she will be studying Judaisim, Christianity, Buddhism, Hinduism, and Islam. She will probably also take a look at Wicca and various Pagan beliefs as well as some Native American beliefs.

Btw, she is a very good reader--no problem with higher level texts. Thanks so much!!

06-30-2013, 12:20 PM
Siddhartha for Buddhism has been recommended to me.

06-30-2013, 02:34 PM
For Mayan spirituality (Native American), I would recommend one of Martin Prechtel's books.
Secrets of the Talking Jaguar (http://www.amazon.com/Secrets-Talking-Jaguar-Martin-Prechtel/dp/0874779707/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1372616950&sr=1-1) by Martin Prechtelor

Long Life, Honey in the Heart (http://www.amazon.com/Long-Honey-Heart-Martin-Prechtel/dp/155643538X/ref=sr_1_3?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1372616950&sr=1-3) by Martin PrechtelBoth describe Maya shamanism and connections between nature, humans, and community. The second is more focused on youth initiation ceremonies.

I read them years ago and enjoyed them. If I remember correctly, the first one touches on Guatemala's recent political history as well, and its impact on spiritual practices.

06-30-2013, 03:58 PM
Hm. That's a good question. Siddhartha was the first one to occur to me as well. And then my mind went to Satanic Verses, which you should not have her read and I probably need to keep thinking...

06-30-2013, 08:58 PM
Maybe Milton's Paradise books for Christianity... or Dante or the "Left Behind" series if you want a slightly lighter view...?

For Hindu literature, perhaps the Ramayana or the Bhagavad Gita?

07-01-2013, 01:21 AM
I'll ask my friends today if there is anything they recommend for Islam that is not the quran.

07-01-2013, 03:13 AM
Karma, by Cathy Ostiere. Historical fiction, takes place during the 1984 Sikh massacres. The protagonist is a 1/2 Hindu, 1/2 Sikh 15 year old. I haven't read it, but the author is Canadian and I remember it getting glowing reviews all around. I also remember that I loved having a protaganist I could imagine being friends with in my teen years :)

My all time favourite for Christianity is Quarantine, by Jim Crace. It is a retelling of Jesus' 40 day fast, and the protagonist is a young, intelligent merchant's wife, Miri. It is a short novel, and I swear I can smell the story, he is such a genius. You should read it first, as there is a rape scene. The merchant forces himself on a fellow traveller. I read this type of thing as a young teen, but it is a call that mum should make.

07-01-2013, 07:54 AM
Diary of Anne Frank, if she hasn't already read it.

07-02-2013, 03:26 PM
I would go with Jataka Tales for Buddhism. It's actual Buddhist literature. Parables, etc.

07-02-2013, 07:08 PM
I was thinking about this. You could go so many directions for Christianity. I mean, you could read something like Flannery O'Conner or (very different) C.S. Lewis (I was thinking Prelandra, not Narnia) because they wrote stories filled with Christian symbolism. Lots of other avenues there. Or you could do something older and classic like Paradise Lost or part of The Divine Comedy. Or, another direction, you could do something that is about religious character. I mean, what about something like The Poisonwood Bible - the main characters are missionaries. Or you could do Gilead or... Anyway, there are so many totally different directions you could take.

For other religions you'll have a more limited selection for obvious reasons. But again, what are your goals. Do you want to read something that is a traditional story from that religion or something that is a story that is about someone who follows that religion?

07-03-2013, 12:12 PM
I would go with Jataka Tales for Buddhism. It's actual Buddhist literature. Parables, etc.

I agree. Siddartha is a good book, but very Western in style and theme. In the same vein, I'd recommend the poetry of Rumi for Islam. If he's a very good reader, "Saint Francis" by Nikos Kazantzakis is a very good novel about Christianity in Europe (mostly) in the time of the Crusades. The Tao of Pooh is fun if you do Taoism.

My favorite novel about religion is "Lamb" by Christopher Moore. It's sarcastic, darkly funny, and irreverent. it also contains material that a mom may not want to share with her teenage son, and probably isn't elevated enough for a literary study. It does, however, touch on the basic philosophical principles of several religious traditions that existed around the time of Rome's occupation of the Middle East.

07-03-2013, 06:53 PM
I was going to suggest Shogun by James Clavell but I can't remember if it was Buddhism or Shinto that was discussed. I know Bushido is discussed in great depth but that is more a cultural thing than a religious one.

07-05-2013, 05:04 PM
Thanks for all the suggestions. I have spent time at the library looking through the books that are available there. I still am unsure but I have a better idea of what we'll be doing. I am struggling a bit because I want the literature to be of a high enough quality to have my daughter write a lot of literature analyses type papers. I think I will have to alternate between challenging books and ones that are just fun or interesting to read. The topic of Religion itself is a pretty heavy topic. Maybe reading some lighter literature such as the Left Behind books would make her load a little easier. I wish I didn't get so stressed out about these things. I'm sure I'm spending way too much time overanyalyzing all the options. I tend to do that. :(

Thanks again for the suggestions!

07-05-2013, 06:33 PM
I'd recommend poetry of Rumi for Islam.

07-10-2013, 08:34 PM
If you have a Unitarian Universalist Church near, you could give them a visit. They should have lots of suggestions and you might be able to borrow the books from them.