BOSTON — The compelling story of this multireligious experiment in nationhood and the forces working for and against its success comes to life in a new CD-ROM called "On Common Ground: World Religions in America."
This multimedia publication of The Pluralism Project at Harvard University is a rich resource for schools, libraries, churches, and families. It explores the roots of America's mushrooming diversity in its fundamental commitment to religious freedom and pluralism. And it reveals the struggles of many generations in the effort to expand the "we" in "We the people of the United States...."
Yet along with historical depth it offers a broad sweeping look at how the religious landscape is changing and the beliefs and aspirations of people of 15 faiths now practiced daily in US communities.
In the section titled "A New Religious Landscape," the user can examine the details of this diversity in 18 US cities and regions - maybe in his or her own neighborhood. The profiles of churches, temples, and mosques plus city and regional maps make sites easy to locate and visit.
"America's Many Religions" explores 15 faiths: Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, Sikhism, Baha'i, native American religions, Confucianism, Shinto, Taoism, Zoroastrianism, Jainism, Paganism, and Afro-Caribbean traditions. Essays on basic beliefs and practices, what the religious experience is like, and the major issues followers are concerned with, along with the engaging voices of individuals sharing their perspectives and hopes give remarkable insight into each tradition. The user will appreciate the internal complexity of major faiths, although the CD-ROM does not treat various sects in depth.
"Encountering Religious Diversity" gives valuable historical perspective on US pluralism and looks at current issues in the public square, highlighting the importance of engaging actively in understanding one another.
"On Common Ground" is available from Columbia University Press for $195 (educational institutions can get a 5-pack for $250). It also offers an extensive free Guide for Teachers and Students (www.columbia.edu/cu/cup). The Pluralism Project updates its "work in progress" at: www.fas.harvard.edu/~pluralsm (yes, there's no "i" in pluralsm).