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Human beings are uniquely equipped with a capacity and curiosity to consider mystery. For countless generations, people have asked and answered existentially urgent and provocative questions about the meaning of life, the existence of God, and how to be a good person.
Religions of the world have traditionally been the outlet for dealing with mystery, and in The Enduring Quest for Meaning: Humans, Mystery, and the Story of Religion, Michael Horace Barnes presents a chronicle of the human quest to make sense of these mysteries through religious traditions. Tracing this quest from the mythic tales of hunter-gatherers to modern scientific atheism, this text sheds light not only on the mysteries people face, but--more importantly--on the people who face them. With charts, pictures, and discussion questions at the conclusion of each chapter, The Enduring Quest for Meaning makes questions of ultimate meaning accessible and engaging for any audience.
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Michael Horace Barnes is a professor of religious studies at the University of Dayton.Review:
At a time when many students question the value of religion, Michael Horace Barnes's The Enduring Quest for Meaning provides them with an engagingly written text that demonstrates why the religious quest not only endures but thrives. Barnes shows how human religiousness is grounded in our shared humanity. This book will appeal to students who are religious, as well as to those who are suspicious of religion. As a theology professor, I appreciate that although the book comes to the study of religion as a way to learn about humanity and describes its approach as "from the outside," it presents the human person as inherently open to the infinite and approaches religion sympathetically. This book offers an impressive integration of insights from multiple disciplines, including religious studies, theology, philosophy, history, psychology, sociology, and anthropology. Although it is not an introduction to major religions of the world, its rich examples from a wide variety of religious traditions provide concrete illustrations of the larger points being made and will spark student interest in exploring particular religious traditions.
--Donna Teevan, PhD
Associate Professor, Theology and Religious Studies Department
Michael Barnes's book, The Enduring Quest for Meaning, is the best book I have ever found for teaching courses on religion--written clearly and intelligibly, not assuming too much knowledge on the part of its readers, most of whom are college freshmen. It introduces the academic study of religion in a fascinating, well-organized, systematic way that relates its topic to the lives of students. The book carefully distinguishes the humanistic study of religion--which this book represents--from the believer's theological study without devaluing the latter.
This volume includes footnotes to relevant academic sources and key chapters that make the book's story clear. The final chapter's treatment of postmodernism is helpful to the understanding of religion in the twenty-first century.
I recommend The Enduring Quest for Meaning to anyone who teaches religious studies or who simply wants to gain a new perspective on the long story of religion as a human response to the mystery of the universe.
--Alan Meyers, PhD, Professor Emeritus of Religion
Michael Horace Barnes's recent book, The Enduring Quest for Meaning, is a comprehensive and well-constructed introduction to religion as human response to mystery. It emphasizes the human heart's longing for God while summarizing the history of human religiousness: the evolution of religions from primitive to modern and all the dimensions of established and unestablished religions. The book talks about a God that transcends the limits of particular religions' titles or manner of relating to God or God's existence. The essential point in all courses in religion is the reality of human consciousness and its need to think beyond the visible and act in accordance with this conviction.
The book is coherent, useful, and attractive: coherent because of its examples of how humans have understood Ultimate Reality; useful because of its footnotes and charts and summaries of terms; and attractive in the images that illustrate topics (a picture is frequently "worth a thousand words").
--James V. Zeitz
Our Lady of the Lake University
"I am delighted and energized by Michael Horace Barnes's The Enduring Quest for Meaning: Humans, Mystery, and the Story of Religion. As a theologian in a Catholic liberal arts college, I have found it difficult to find texts that offer academic excellence in the analysis of the development of religion while maintaining a respectful demeanor that is supportive of religious faith. This text strikes the perfect balance. It both challenges and inspires. I have enthusiastically adopted it for my popular course on religion and culture. As someone actively engaged in interreligious dialogue, I am also impressed with its positive anthropology and the way it situates religiousness as a natural response to the universal need to make meaning of human experience."
--John B. Switzer, PhD
Associate Professor of Theology, Director of the Center for Interreligious Understanding
Spring Hill College
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Book Description Anselm Academic, 2015. Condition: New. book. Seller Inventory # M159982681X