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How Different Religions View Death and Afterlife
Edited By: Christopher Jay Johnson, PhD
Paperback: 406 pages
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About the Book
The first edition of How Different Religions View Death and Afterlife earned widespread acclaim for its objective, thoughtful and practical explanation of the often confusing and troublesome subjects of death and afterlife. In the same tradition as the first, this new third edition presents a clear, concise and comparative overview of the teachings and the death beliefs of the largest and fastest-growing religions in North America.
This new third edition—fully revised, updated and expanded with four new chapters—will be of enormous value to all readers who would like to obtain a better understanding of the various ways in which different faiths understand death and what happens afterward. Unlike many books on the subject of religious beliefs, the discourse here is refreshingly objective and nonproselytizing. Furthermore, each chapter is written by a different expert or scholar who is internationally recognized as an authority on a particular faith.
This book is of enormous value to Hospice workers, Palliative Care personnel, Funeral Home Directors, Clergy, Social Workers, Counselors and Gerontologists. Readers who are seeking a better comprehension of the beliefs of their own religion and those who want to investigate the belief systems of other religions will be able to obtain all the information they need. Teachers and students of comparative religion will appreciate that this book not only offers objective and information, placing it into a logical and comparative format that is easy to comprehend. Health professionals who work with the terminally ill and the dying will find practical information that will help them offer greater understanding and sensitivity to their patients of different faiths. Again, pastoral, gerontological and grief counselors, clergy and chaplains will be able to obtain information about the death practices and beliefs of these faiths in one book. Funeral directors will find thoroughly practical and specific direction about the funeral, burial and grieving practices of each religion. The contributing authors present their information objectively and without an overbearing amount of theological language. Because beliefs about death and afterlife have wide implications for life, this book encourages a search for greater understanding of these subjects.
About the Editor
Dr. Christopher J. Johnson received his Ph.D. in Sociology with a major in Aging and Family and minor in Social Psychology from Iowa State University, Sociology with major in Aging and Family. He earned his M.A. from University of Northern Iowa in Sociology with major in Aging. He earned his B.A. in Philosophy from the University of Denver.
He retired as Director of Gerontology and Professor of Gerontology and Sociology at the University of Louisiana at Monroe (ULM). At ULM, he developed an online M.A. in Gerontology Program and was Director of the Institute of Gerontology (NIA grant funded). His online Masters in Gerontology at ULM was awarded as a top academic program in the state. He was recognized among the top five teachers at his former University (The University of Louisiana at Monroe or ULM). He retired from ULM after 25 plus years to teach in the Dementia Studies graduate program at the University of Stirling, Scotland and work for the Dementia Services Centre there. In research, besides procuring over 3 million dollars in grant and private funding, his interests are in dementia, human rights for persons with cognitive disabilities, gerontology and the Sociology of Religion. At ULM he was twice awarded “Researcher of the Year” in the School of Arts and Sciences. He has conducted a state-wide needs assessment of elderly in Iowa but specializes in oral histories. He was awarded an, Endowed Professorship in Gerontology based upon his outstanding teaching and research skills.
Dr. Johnson came to Texas State University to develop America’s first online MS in Dementia and Aging (MSDA) Program. In the area of teaching, Dr. Johnson was the main contributor to the development of the MSDA online 33-hour program at Texas State University. He has developed an End of Life course as an elective in the MSDA. This internationally renowned program at Texas State has three tracks: Long Term Care; Research and Practitioner. Dr. Johnson teaches Introduction to Dementia Studies, Caregiving and Dementia, The Social Psychology of Dementia, End of Life and Clinical Sociology: Counseling Elderly.
More about the book / In the words of the Editor, Christopher Jay Johnson, PhD:
“When the first edition of this book was published in 1991, society was riding the crest of a new wave of interest in the subject of death and dying. Much of this interest was instigated by the fact that the unrelenting and overwhelming progress of modern technology had created a massive spiritual void in the minds of millions of thoughtful people. Most people had begun to realize that certain things – issues of great significance to our lives – could not be “answered” by science and medical technology. Furthermore, modern technology and secularism seemed to have offered specific ideas that were especially troublesome – such as the theory that everything is over the moment we die – that is, at the end of our life when our bodies experience clinical death.
“Today we are seeing social trends in three directions: fundamentalism, ecumenicalism and atheism. Many people are investigating world religion throughout the technologically developed world and most notably in the United States. People from all walks of life are now embracing a new search for spiritual answers to questions about life and death. So now seems to be an appropriate time for an expanded and updated third edition of this book. I want to extend a warm thanks to my past co-editor of the first two editions of the book, Dr. Marsha McGee for her great work in making these successful editions the high quality that they were.
“For the 3rd edition of this book I have selected internationally renowned theologians and experts from varied religions to write the chapters. This book offers the information needed to explore a wide range of views on death, funeral practices and afterlife. One would think that this information would be readily available, but surprisingly this is not the case. There are many books on death and on religion, but few have managed to integrate these subjects thoughtfully and effectively. Here, in a single volume, is significant information necessary for obtaining clear understanding of the thoughts, doctrines and customs regarding the world’s religions thanatological views.
“This is presented in a fact-based, objective and non-proselytizing manner. The result is a unique exploration of comparative religion and these faiths ideas on death and afterlife. I have included chapters from authors who represent the largest and fastest-growing Christian groups, Christian groups that are smaller but growing and the largest non-Christian groups in North America.
“The authors were asked to outline the main beliefs and origins of their faiths. They then address the subject of death and afterlife, being as specific as possible. It is understood that the authors have expressed their own personal interpretation of their faith’s beliefs. I am quite certain their views are acceptable to a broad range of members of their religions. The 3rd edition, has added additional religions to those covered in the 2nd edition.
“Although it isn’t possible to include a chapter on every religion, I believe the groups included offer a wide cross section of different beliefs and should provide the reader with a good deal of food for thought. Due to limitations of space, each chapter is a simplified version of these authors great religions and does not do justice to the breadth and depth of these faiths. The sociological perspective considers that what is real for each person is what they believe to be real. Yet at the same time knowledge of varying religion outgroups concerning the end of life death and afterlife is important. By seeing through the lenses of these religions we address our own concerns regarding reward and punishment in the life hereafter. Personal religious views on death and afterlife are of utmost importance to long-term care residents, patients and clients of many of the readers of this book. So, I hope to whet your appetite without overburdening your digestive system.
“This book is of enormous value to Hospice workers, Palliative Care personnel, Funeral Home Directors, Clergy, Social Workers, Counselors and Gerontologists. Readers who are seeking a better comprehension of the beliefs of their own religion and those who want to investigate the belief systems of other religions will be able to obtain all the information they need. Teachers and students of comparative religion will appreciate that this book not only offers objective and information, placing it into a logical and comparative format that is easy to comprehend.
“Health professionals who work with the terminally ill and the dying will find practical information that will help them offer greater understanding and sensitivity to their patients of different faiths. Again, pastoral, gerontological and grief counselors, clergy and chaplains will be able to obtain information about the death practices and beliefs of these faiths in one book. Funeral directors will find thoroughly practical and specific direction about the funeral, burial and grieving practices of each religion. Finally, I hope that all readers will appreciate the fact that the contributing authors present their information objectively and without an overbearing amount of theological language. Because beliefs about death and afterlife have wide implications for life, I encourage you to join us in our search for greater understanding of these subjects. The goal of this book is to expand your horizons and help you along in your sociological and spiritual Journey.”