"Some people know that they believe in their religion, but they don't really know what their religion believes in. Some are wholly devoted to their own religion, but they couldn't care less about what others believe. And some people despise the idea of religion altogether.Huston Smith is here to show us the importance of religion, and the increasing importance of understanding each other as technology links us closer and closer together. He takes us on a grand tour of seven of the world's most popular religious traditions (Hinduism, Buddhism, Confucianism, Taoism, Islam, Judaism, and Christianity), but he does this in a special way that makes his book one of the single best volumes we have for understanding the religions of the world.First, notice the order in which he treats the religions: Hinduism first, Christianity last. He wants to challenge you, the Western reader, by starting with the most esoteric of faiths and working his way back toward the familiar Judeo-Christian perspective that most of us grew up with.Next, he focuses on the best part of religion--the ideas. Society, in its money-guzzling, war-mongering ways, has kidnapped religion and done some pretty terrible things in its name. By examining religion apart from the grunge of society, Smith shows us that, in themselves, our world religions contain some of the most meaningful insights into human nature that human beings have ever had. Finally, Smith brings out the beauty of each religion. You know how an artist tries to render his subject in its best light? That's what Huston Smith does with each religion. Whether he's describing Lila, the Cosmic Dancer of Hinduism, shocking us into selflessness in the Buddhism chapter, or warming our hearts with the idea of love in Christianity, page after page Smith turns out passages of keen intellect and breathtaking beauty.Smith has such a way with words that, as I read each chapter, I found myself saying, "Hmm... maybe I should become a ---" [complete the sentence with any one of the religions covered in this book]. And I think that's Smith's idea. To make us proud of the several unique and beautiful visions of the universe that our religions have given us, and to make us see that each one contributes something of great value to humanity."