email page    print page

All Topic Reviews
50 Reasons People Give for Believing in a God50 Voices of DisbeliefA Companion to Buddhist PhilosophyA Companion to Muslim EthicsA Frightening LoveA Mirror Is for ReflectionA Mirror Is for ReflectionA People's History of ChristianityAdieu to GodAn Ethics for TodayAristotle's ChildrenAugustine's "Confessions"Bad FaithBehind the GospelsBeyond the SelfBig DreamsBig GodsBody Piercing Saved My LifeBrains, Buddhas, and BelievingBrief Inquiry into the Meaning of Sin and FaithBuddhism and ScienceBuddhist Boot CampConfucianismConfucianismConfucius and ConfucianismContemplative ScienceCorporal Punishment, Religion, and United States Public SchoolsCourage to SurrenderCross and KhoraDarwin's Gift to Science and ReligionDarwin, God and the Meaning of LifeDeath and the AfterlifeDebating DesignDeeper Than DarwinDivinity of DoubtEmbracing MindEncountering the DharmaEngaging BuddhismEsalenEscape Your Own PrisonEvidence for PsiEvilEvolution and ReligionExplorations in Neuroscience, Psychology and ReligionFaithFaith and Wisdom in ScienceFingerprints of GodFor The Bible Tells Me SoForgivenessFrom Shame to SinGodGod & TherapyGod Is Not GreatGod Is Not OneGod: The Failed HypothesisHereticHidden DimensionsHooked!Hours with the MysticsHow to See Yourself As You Really AreHow Would Buddha Act?Incorporating Spirituality in Counseling and PsychotherapyInto Great SilenceIslam and the Future of Tolerance: A DialogueJewish DharmaLife After FaithLiving DeeplyLiving with a Wild GodLiving with DarwinMaking Chastity SexyMedicine and Health Care in Early ChristianityMedicine and ReligionMedicine of the PersonMorals Not KnowledgeMysticism & SpaceNature and the Human SoulNothingOn AnimalsOn Life After DeathPanpsychism and the Religious AttitudePathways to SpiritualityPeaceful Death, Joyful RebirthPhilosophers without GodsPhilosophical Myths of the FallPorn UniversityPray the Gay AwayPsychotherapy without the SelfPurgatoryRadical GraceReason, Faith, and RevolutionRecruiting Young LoveReligion without GodReligious and Spiritual Issues in Psychiatric DiagnosisSaving GodScience and NonbeliefScience and Religion at the CrossroadsScience and SpiritualityScience vs. ReligionSecular Philosophy and the Religious TemperamentSelf Hypnosis for Cosmic ConsciousnessSelf, No Self?Sex and the Soul, Updated EditionSmile of the BuddhaSong of RiddlesSpirit, Mind, and BrainSuperstitionTen Lectures on Psychotherapy and SpiritualityThe Accidental MindThe Belief InstinctThe Bodhisattva's BrainThe Cambridge Companion to AtheismThe Cambridge Companion to Science and ReligionThe Case for GodThe Chosen OneThe Dao of NeuroscienceThe Dark Night of the SoulThe Darkening AgeThe Delight of Being OrdinaryThe Forgotten CreedThe Fundamentalist MindsetThe God DebatesThe God GeneThe Hero with a Thousand FacesThe Improbability of GodThe Joy of SecularismThe Language God TalksThe Language of GodThe Meaning of BeliefThe MiracleThe New AtheismThe New Religious IntoleranceThe Philosophy of ReligionThe Power of FaithThe Power of ForgivenessThe Power of Religion in the Public SphereThe Psychology of Religious FundamentalismThe Psychology of SpiritualityThe Puppet and the DwarfThe Secular OutlookThe Sense of SelfThe Spirit of the BuddhaThe Spirit of Tibetan BuddhismThe Tibetan Book of the DeadThe Trauma of Everyday LifeThe Watkins Dictionary of Religions and Secular FaithsThe Watkins Dictionary of SymbolsTheology, Psychology and the Plural SelfThoughts Without A ThinkerTop SecretUnifying HinduismWays of KnowingWhat Is Buddhist Enlightenment?What Should I Believe?When the Impossible HappensWhy I Left, Why I StayedWilliam James on Ethics and FaithWriting as a Sacred PathYoga, Karma, and RebirthZealot

Related Topics
The Watkins Dictionary of Religions and Secular FaithsReview - The Watkins Dictionary of Religions and Secular Faiths
by Gerald Benedict
Watkins, 2008
Review by Joshua Finnell
Aug 19th 2008 (Volume 12, Issue 34)

When assessing any encyclopedia or dictionary of religions, the first term to read is the authors or editors definition of religion.  The definition will provide insight not only into the inclusion and exclusion of certain religions, but will reflect the philosophical background and bias of the author.  For example, in the Encyclopedia of Religion edited by Mircea Eliade the entry for Religion begins by stating that the very idea of distinguishing religion as separate from the remainder of life is primarily a Western concern.  Gerald Benedict, a comparative religious philosophy scholar, lays the framework for his dictionary when he writes that religion is "a notoriously difficult term to define with any kind of precision."  As a corollary, this dictionary is expansive in scope and is written for scholars, students and the casual reference seeker.  As a single source of information on various world religions and secular faiths, this guide's features include all major belief systems, cults, religious and philosophical figures, secular faiths and philosophical movements, a general bibliography of works consulted, and most importantly a chronology of religious figures and events. 

Entries are alphabetically arranged by term and each entry contains cross-references leading to words most frequently found in the lexicon of these systems, indicating how the word is used and understood. For example, the entry on UFO Cults includes references to Atherius Society, Chen Tao, Heaven's Gate, and Raelianism.  Illustrations are limited, but included where necessary.  For example, a figure of the Sri Yantra -- a configuration of nine interlacing triangles surrounding the central point -- accompanies the entry on Sacred Geometry.  Of particular strength is the aforementioned chronology, providing a historical overview of the development of religious traditions and the historical event that precipitated them.  The timeline begins in 40,000 BCE with the possible migration of Aborigines from Southeast Asia to the conclusion of the Mayan Calendar in 2012.

The guide's only weakness comes from the brevity of each entry -- many of which are little more than a paragraph or two long.  Whereas a student utilizing the guide for quick reference may be satisfied with the topical overview, the serious scholar may yearn for more.  Nevertheless, the range of entries more than makes up for the lack of depth. 

Although many of the entries (Christianity, Buddhism) will be well known to the average student of religions, the addition of secular faiths and mystical cults (Krewes, Jombala Cult) should stimulate the desire of the reader to learn more about the complex, evolving, and multi-faceted nature of religion. 


The Encyclopedia of Religion. Mircea Eliade, ed. New York, Macmillan, 1987. 

© 2008 Joshua Finnell

Joshua Finnell is a reference librarian and assistant professor of library science at McNeese State University in Lake Charles, Louisiana.  In 2006, he received his Masters of Liberal Arts degree from Washington University in St. Louis with his thesis entitled, Heavy Metal Religion: Holy Sh*t or Authentic Fake


Welcome to Metapsychology.

Note that Metapsychology will be moving to a new server in January 2020. We will not put up new reviews during the transition. We thank you for your support and look forward to coming back with a revised format.

We feature over 8300 in-depth reviews of a wide range of books and DVDs written by our reviewers from many backgrounds and perspectives. We update our front page weekly and add more than twenty new reviews each month. Our editor is Christian Perring, PhD. To contact him, use one of the forms available here.

Metapsychology Online reviewers normally receive gratis review copies of the items they review.
Metapsychology Online receives a commission from for purchases through this site, which helps us send review copies to reviewers. Please support us by making your purchases through our Amazon links. We thank you for your support!

Join our Google Group!

Interested in becoming a book reviewer for Metapsychology? To apply, write to our editor.

Metapsychology Online Reviews

Promote your Page too

Metapsychology Online Reviews
ISSN 1931-5716