Since writing my last post about the faith line and the color line, I have been to a secondhand bookshop! Now I absolutely love secondhand bookshops. I simply cannot pass any sale of secondhand books without stopping to browse, and I almost always find something I cannot resist, to add to my burgeoning bookshelves at home, or to increase the height of the pile of books waiting to be read by my bedside. I guess it’s an addiction in its own way! Although perhaps it’s not a bad addiction to have!
The other day we went out for the afternoon to view part of our wonderful national heritage – a splendid Jacobean house and garden open to the public. And there beyond the back of the gift shop selling all those manner of new and over priced items that we simply do not need, was a small room stuffed with old and not so old books of every shape, size, genre and condition, simply begging to be bought; and all for a good charitable cause. What was there to lose?
So I just had to buy Comparative Religion, by A C Bouquet. Born in 1884 and an expert on the history and comparative study of religions, Bouquet wrote this paperback during the Second World War to provide what he described as a “plain tale, inspired by scientific method”… of the “religious quest of mankind, its fruits, its failures, and its future prospects…” This is a Pelican Book, an imprint of the famous Penguin Books, and I bought the fourth revised edition of 1953. How could I not buy it as part of my current research into the Wisdom of Religious Tolerance!?
Dr Bouquet was himself an Anglican priest, but he was very clear of his responsibility to write an entirely objective account – to write as a scientist, he said, not as an advocate. “I believe,” he wrote, "that truth shines by its own light. I have faith that if my own creed is in any true sense absolute, it cannot suffer from an unprejudiced and dispassionate exposition of the history of religion.”
It is curious to see his use of the word science as well, in the study of religion, since of course in this twenty first century many seem to believe that science and religion are entirely incompatible, at opposite ends of the spectrum of understanding.
But science was after all originally called the natural philosophy. It is only relatively recently that it’s meaning has been hijacked by the reductionist and materialistic scientists and the angry atheists for their own agenda.
Talking of which, there is another little gem in the book that I have not yet had time to look into any further. A certain Lord Herbert of Cherbury, who died in 1648, is noted by Bouquet as asserting that there are no real atheists, “but only so called atheists, who object to the false and inappropriate attributes which are assigned to Deity, and will rather have no God than one who is unworthy of belief.” An interesting thought.
My book Why Religions Work explores religious tolerance issues. It could not be more relevant at the moment with the world in its present state.
This blog has concentrated recently on the wonderful pilgrimages I have been on - to the Holy Land and to Turkey and more recently to Holy Georgia , Greece "In the Steps of St Paul" , Ethiopia and most recently my experiences in Iran.
"If I was allowed another life I would go to all the places of God's Earth. What better way to worship God than to look on all his works?" from The Chains of Heaven: an Ethiopian Romance Philip Marsden