California State University, Long Beach
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Authors of the Month

Readings in American Religious Diversity

Jon Stone and Carlos Piar, Religious Studies

Readings in American Religious Diversity

Published in June, the 588-page text from Kendall/Hunt Publishing offers a collection of primary sources that reflect the diversity of religious communities in the United States, specifically Native American, African American, Latino/a and Asian American. “One thing we did not want to do was to have a book of readings in which outsiders were commenting on what insiders were doing,” said Stone. “We included speeches, stories, folk tales, autobiographical selections and denominational histories written by the people themselves. We were especially interested in examining the role religion played in the formation of these communities.” The genesis of the book began with a shared dissatisfaction with other religious studies texts. “Their histories always seemed to begin with the Pilgrims,” said Stone. “Our book begins with other traditions. We included primary sources for stories that pre-date European ideas.” The text is also distinguished by what Stone describes as “foretastes” to each section that offer outlines of the different religious communities and some of the major themes students would encounter. Piar, who received his Ph.D. in Religion/Social Ethics from USC in 1991, is the author of Jesus and Liberation: A Critical Analysis of the Christology of Latin American Liberation Theology (Peter Lang, 1994). “Carlos’ expertise in Latin American and Caribbean traditions was a critical part of the diversity that this text expresses,” Stone said. Stone, who received his Ph.D. from UC Santa Barbara in 1990, is author or editor of a dozen books, including The Craft of Religious Studies (St. Martin’s Press, 1998), Expecting Armageddon: Essential Readings in Failed Prophecy (Routledge, 2000), and The Essential Max Müller (SMP/Palgrave, 2002). His bestselling Latin for the Illiterati (Routledge, 1996) was named “1997 Outstanding Reference Source” by the American Library Association. His latest book in 2006 was The Routledge Book of World Proverbs.