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A Study in Beauty, Truth, and Goodness

Kent Richter

Publication Date - 01 July 2016

ISBN: 9780190291198

240 pages
6-1/2 x 9-1/4 inches

In Stock

A positive and evenhanded look at the remarkable phenomenon of religion


Religion: A Study in Beauty, Truth, and Goodness covers the wide array of elements, including the concepts of ultimate being, scripture, ritual, morality, and beauty, which make up the fascinating entity known as religion. Taking a phenomenological approach that emphasizes the standpoint of the religious believer--a view from the inside of religion--Kent Richter uses the categories of experience, belief, and behavior ("Beauty, Truth, and Goodness") as a way to think about religion in general. This approach helps students understand both the great variety in religious traditions and the internal coherence that religion holds for its practitioners.


  • A relatively brief yet comprehensive introduction to religion
  • Covers a wide range of elements that various religious traditions share, including concepts of ultimate reality, ritual, and scripture and religious experience, social order, and art
  • Uses a focus on the beauty, truth, and goodness of religion to help students understand how religion functions as a way of life for believers
  • Demonstrates the coherence and deeply interwoven nature of religion itself
  • Incorporates numerous pedagogical features including boldfaced key terms, discussion questions, and a glossary
  • Supplemented by an Ancillary Resource Center (ARC) containing an Instructor's Manual, Test Bank, and PowerPoint lecture outlines and a Companion Website with practice quizzes and vocabulary flashcards for students

About the Author(s)

Kent Richter is Professor of Philosophy and Religious Studies at College of DuPage. He is the coauthor of Understanding Religion in a Global Society (2004).


"I can see my undergraduate students not just reading Religion, but liking it too. Richter has a gift for expressing complex concepts in religious studies in very accessible language."--Thomas W. Martin, Susquehanna University

"I love the beauty/truth/goodness central metaphor--there is something immediately appealing about it."--James G. Lochtefeld, Carthage College

"This is exactly what new college students need as a bridge to the academic study of religion."--Stephen Lahey, University of Alaska

Table of Contents

    Chapter 1. Defining 'Religion'
    Too Broad and Too Narrow
    The Dialectic of Definition and Example
    Reductionism and Functional Equivalence
    Getting at Last to Definitions
    A Working Definition of "Religion"
    Part I: Truth, or What Religion Would Have Us Believe
    Chapter 2. Concepts of Ultimate Being
    God and Gods
    Miscellany and Mixtures
    Chapter 3. Historical Claims: Founders and Manifestations
    "Incarnations" of "God"
    Secondary Founders
    Non-historical Origins
    Chapter 4. Scripture as Source and Authority
    Sikhism and the Adi Granth: A Case Study
    The General Concept of Scripture
    Scripture and Prophets
    Scripture and Sages
    Secondary Scriptures
    Conclusions on Scripture and the Possibility of Anti-scripture
    Chapter 5. The Languages of Religion
    Religious Languages and Their Importance
    Stories: Myth, History, and Parables
    Wisdom and Instruction
    Exegesis and Hermeneutics: The Science of Interpretation
    Chapter 6. Miscellaneous Doctrines: The Truth of Self, Suffering, and Salvation
    The Self
    Suffering and the Religious Problem of Evil
    Epilogue to Part I: The Promise and the Problems of Religious Truth
    Part II: Goodness, or What Religion Would Have Us Do
    Chapter 7. Ritual
    Ritual and Religious Ritual
    The Value and Uses of Ritual
    Commemorative Ritual
    Effective Ritual and Ritual Magic
    Problems of Religious Ritual
    Chapter 8. Moral Action
    Obligation and the "Queerness" of Morality
    Monotheism and Divine Commands
    The Virtue of the Sages
    Monism and Teleological Morality
    Religious Exemplars
    Problems of Religious Morality
    Motivation for Morality
    Chapter 9. Social Order and Government
    Religion and Social Order
    Religion and Economic Equality
    "Church and State"
    Religion and War
    Epilogue to Part II: The Promise and the Problems of Religious Goodness
    Part III: Beauty, or What Religion Would Have Us Feel
    Chapter 10. Religious Experience
    The Variety of Religious Experience
    Visions, Voices and the Prophetic Call
    Mystical Experience
    The Epistemology of Religious Experience
    Chapter 11. Religion and Art
    Pictorial Art
    Other Visual Arts: Calligraphy and Architecture
    Poetry and Music
    Art as Performance
    Chapter 12. Beatitude, or Salvation Reconsidered
    Varieties of Beatitude
    "What Must I Do to be Saved?"
    The Problem of Hell
    The Goodness of the Highest Good
    Epilogue to Part III: The Promise and the Problems of Religious Beauty
    Epilogue: Religion as Trinity

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