Monday, January 18, 2010

Religious Syncretism

My first book, Religious Syncretism, gestated for about a decade before it became an active work of research and writing. It was published as a textbook with SCM-Canterbury in 2006.

I had been thinking over the years about the curious customs of pagan origins that continue in our day to day lives. Tossing coins in fountains (a variation of a Celtic practice of tossing coins to the dead in marshes to gain their favor). Knocking on wood (again, another Celtic practice, done to stir up the soul in a tree for protection). Our daily lives, and especially our monotheistic holidays, are studded with pagan holdovers. The obvious ones, Christmas trees, Easter eggs, the Sukkah, are only the most evident expression of religious borrowing.

My book shows the pervasiveness of borrowing. It takes examples of hybrid varieties of Islam, Christianity and Judaism to show the fluidity between these religions and so-called paganism. The three great carriers of syncretism in religion are saint veneration, mysticism and folk practice. My book illustrates that all three pervade Judaism, Islam and Christianity, and offer interesting and compelling examples of how the three Abrahamic religions share among one another and paganism.

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