The Comparison Project has published four books so far. Ineffability and Death and Dying are based on our 2013–15 and 2015–17 lecture and dialogue series. They are published through a book series with the international publisher Springer Nature. A Spectrum of Faith, a student-written photo-narrative on religion in Des Moines, was published by the Drake Community Press in 2017. Religions of Beijing, a student-written photo-narrative on religion in Beijing is a collaboration with Minzu University of China that was published by Bloomsbury Publishing in 2020.

Religions of Beijing

A Spectrum of Faith: Religions of
the World in America's Heartland

Religions of Beijing offers an intimate portrayal of lived religion in 17 different religious communities in greater Beijing. Students at Minzu University of China spent one year immersed in the routine and practices daily, “writing with” the experiences and perspectives of their practitioners. Each chapter has been translated into English, with students at Drake University (Des Moines, Iowa) facilitating this process. The result is a bi-lingual book (Mandarin, English) that reveals to Chinese- and English-speaking readers the vibrant diversity of lived religion in contemporary Beijing.

Each chapter focuses on the histories, practices, spaces, and members of its community, telling the overall story of the renewed flourishing of religion in Beijing. The book is also enriched with over 100 photos that portray this flourishing renewal, capturing the lived experience of ordinary practitioners. Together, the words and photographs of Religions of Beijing draw the reader into the stories and lives of these communities and their members, providing a first-hand look at the contemporary practice of religion in greater Beijing. The religions covered are Buddhism, Daoism, Confucianism, Protestantism, Catholicism, Islam and folk religion.

Religions of Beijing is a collaboration of Minzu University of China and Drake University, USA.

A Spectrum of Faith: Religions of the World in America’s Heartland invites readers on a vivid journey through words and pictures into the diverse religious communities of greater Des Moines. Explore the south-side office park transformed into a Buddhist monastery as well as the Basilica in the city’s center named to the National Registry of Historic Places; discover the Hindu temple rising above the cornfields of nearby rural Madrid along with the mosque, synagogue or gurudwara tucked away in a neighborhood near you.

Whether they arrived before last century or just last decade, these Iowans who practice the world’s major faith traditions— Sikhism, Buddhism, Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism, and Islam—extend the state’s proud history of welcome to readers of all faith backgrounds. Get to know the fascinating array of individuals, faith traditions and worship practices belonging to the many religious communities who call Iowa home.

A Spectrum of Faith: Religions of the World in America’s Heartland is a joint product of Drake Community Press, The Comparison Project, photographer Bob Blanchard, and DMARC. Support comes from the Slay Fund for Social Justice and Cultivating Compassion: The Dr. Richard Deming Foundation.

The medicalization of death is a challenge for all the world’s religious and cultural traditions. Death’s meaning has been reduced to a diagnosis, a problem, rather than a mystery for humans to ponder. How have religious traditions responded? What resources do they bring to a discussion of death’s contemporary dilemmas? This book offers a range of creative and contextual responses from a variety of religious and cultural traditions. It features 14 essays from scholars of different religious and philosophical traditions, who spoke as part of a recent lecture and dialogue series of Drake University’s The Comparison Project. The scholars represent ethnologists, medical ethicists, historians, philosophers, and theologians–all facing up to questions of truth and value in the light of the urgent need to move past a strictly medicalized vision.

This collection of essays is an exercise in comparative philosophy of religion that explores the different ways in which humans express the inexpressible. It brings together scholars of over a dozen religious, literary, and artistic traditions, as part of The Comparison Project’s 2013-15 lecture and dialogue series on “religion beyond words.” Specialist scholars first detailed the grammars of ineffability in nine different religious traditions as well as the adjacent fields of literature, poetry, music, and art. The Comparison Project’s directors then compared this diverse set of phenomena, offering explanations for their patterning, and raising philosophical questions of truth and value about religious ineffability in comparative perspective.

This book is the inaugural publication of The Comparison Project, an innovative new approach to the philosophy of religion housed at Drake University (Des Moines, Iowa, USA). The Comparison Project organizes a biennial series of scholar lectures, practitioner dialogues, and comparative panels about core, cross-cultural topics in the philosophy of religion. Specialist scholars of religion first explore this topic in their religions of expertise; comparativist philosophers of religion then raise questions of meaning, truth, and value about this topic in comparative perspective. The Comparison Project stands apart from traditional approaches to the philosophy of religion in its commitment to religious inclusivity. It is the future of the philosophy of religion in a diverse, global world.

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