Opening the Pandora’s Box of Religion: The Wisdom of Kleoth
by Anthony Newman
Book Savvy International

"The spiritual figure of our childhood tends to remain in our hearts."

Taking a rather functionalist approach to the study of the philosophy of religion, Newman asserts from the beginning of his hefty exposition that religion ultimately stems from humanity’s universal fear of death. While our consciousness might or might not forever live, we know our bodies eventually die. Beyond this, the author asserts that religion, itself, falls within three arenas: the fear-anger complex, the realm of social justice, and that of acquiring “direct connection to higher levels.” Newman’s expansive study investigates an array of concepts pertinent to humankind’s religious traditions, including, for example, the questions of faith, experience, suffering, sexuality, God, and love. Within this framework, he further investigates specific religions, including Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Sufism, and Taoism. Absolutely key to the author’s work is the identification of what he terms “avatars,” or incarnations of “perfected beings,” vis-à-vis each religion under consideration: Buddha is to Buddhism, as Jesus is to Christianity, Lao Tzu to Taoism, and so forth.

Impressively comprehensive in nature, Newman's exhaustive book examines the history and philosophy of the world’s major religions, extrapolating that which all hold in common. By doing so, the work offers insight into the very nature of humanity. Throughout the book, well-balanced harmony exists between the examination of particular religious traditions and the consideration of features hallmark to the study of religion in general, such as ritual, prayer, meditation, mystery, judgment, death, mind and ego, and the nature of evil. Newman recognizes well that religion can be used for the common good and the too-often and always tragic usage of one’s belief system for exclusionary purposes—or worse, to perpetuate hate against others. For readers who enjoy the study of comparative religion, this intellectually stimulating tome, penned by a well-versed voice on the matter, has much to offer.

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