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RU Global—Native American Faith in America

Native American Faith in America, by Michael Garrett and J. T. Garrett. New York: Facts on File, 2003.

Reviewed by Georgianne Bordner, University Librarian

November is Native American Heritage Month! If you are among the many whose knowledge about Native Americans is limited, Native American Faith in America, by Michael Garrett and J. T. Garrett, can help.

This brief introduction to Native American religion, history, and culture explains that most of the more than 500 Native American nations that were here when the Europeans arrived continue to exist, each with its own language, culture, and religious beliefs. Because of the great diversity that exists, it is impossible to discuss “the” Native American religion as a whole. Instead, the authors describe common elements found in many of the Native American cultures, illustrating their points with specific examples from individual tribes. They also discuss the impact of Christianity on traditional Native American religion, as well as the Native American roots of the New Age Movement. The result is a sweeping overview that gives the reader a small taste of the richness of Native American spirituality.

Since spirituality has such a central role in Native American life, the book is not limited to a discussion of religion, in spite of its title. One chapter deals with the many contributions that Native Americans have made to American culture, from food to sports to art. The authors also include a brief summary of Native American history, from the arrival of the Europeans to the present, and provide brief biographical sketches of important historical and contemporary Native American leaders. They emphasize that much of the Native Americans’ present political activity is based on their desire to preserve their faiths and beliefs and ensure that they do not disappear like some of their languages and customs.

The authors recognize that their book is far from an exhaustive treatment of Native American religion, and recommend several other resources for further study. But for the many Americans who know little about the subject, Native American Faith in America is a good place to start.

R U Global—Global Perspectives on Counterterrorism

Global Perspectives on Counterterrorism, by Amos N. Guiora. New York: Aspen Publishers, 2011.

Reviewed by Leanne Strum, Ph.D., Head of Technical Services & Systems

Global Perspectives on Counterterrorism presents a practical approach to policy responses to terrorism, including interrogations, the proper forum for trying terrorists, judicial review, international law, and intelligence gathering. The book also uses innovative scenario-based instruction and simulation exercises that put students in the role of policy and decision-makers.

The author, Amos Guiora, is an Israeli-American professor of law at the University of Utah. He served for nineteen years in the Israel Defense Forces, where he held senior command positions in the Judge Advocate General’s Corps, including legal advisor for the Gaza strip. He is a recognized authority on the legal aspects of counterterrorism and morality in armed conflict.

In this updated edition (2011), Professor Guiora includes a new chapter on future hotspots of terrorism and the future of counterterrorism, with a focus on Mexico and Somalia. He also adds new cases, policy documents, and an updated discussion of terrorism events around the world. Global Perspectives on Counterterrorism also examines the different responses of seven nations (United States, Spain, Russia, Israel, India, China, and Columbia) to the challenge of modern terrorism. The book is highly readable and engaging.

R U Global—Latinos in America: Philosophy and Social Identity

Latinos in America: Philosophy and Social Identity, by Jorge J.E. Gracia. Malden, MA: Blackwell, 2008.

Reviewed by Georgianne Bordner, University Librarian

The Latino population in the United States has grown rapidly over the past 30 years, leading to its current position as the largest minority group in the country. The implications of this fact have been a source of concern and even fear for many Americans. In his book Latinos in America: Philosophy and Social Identity, Jorge Gracia, a Cuban-born professor of philosophy at the State University of New York at Buffalo, addresses these concerns by considering Latino identity and the place of Latinos in America from a philosophical point of view.

Gracia believes that in order to deal with the issue of Latinos in America, we need to change the way we think about ethnicity in general, and Latinos in particular. He helps the reader to do that by discussing three main topics. First, he tries to clear up the misunderstandings concerning Latino identity. He emphasizes the need to avoid stereotypes and remember that not all Latinos are alike. For example, there are many differences between Cubans and Mexicans, so it can be problematic to group them all together as “Latinos.” In fact, it is even difficult to agree upon the best name to use in identifying the group as a whole, as both “Latino” and “Hispanic” can have negative connotations. Gracia explains why the issues of identity and labeling are important in helping us to understand Latinos better. In the second part of the book, Gracia discusses some of the main problems faced by Latinos in American society, focusing on the role of Latinos in the philosophy marketplace, the pros and cons of affirmative action, and the issue of language accommodation and language of instruction for Latino children. Finally, the last section of the book looks at Latino philosophy and what it says about who Latinos think they are.

As a Latino philosopher, Gracia draws on many of his personal experiences in discussing the issues involved. His insights into who Latinos are, how they think, and the problems they face in society will help the reader to look beyond the stereotypes that can lead to fear. Latinos form an important part of American society, and need to be accepted as such. Latinos in America is an important contribution in helping us to understand how to do that.

R U Global — Chinese Religions

Chinese Religions, by Joseph A. Adler. New York: Routledge, 2002.

Reviewed by Robert Sivigny, University Librarian

Chinese Religions by Joseph Adler is part of Routledge Publisher’s Religions of the World series and is one of the books referenced on the Center for Teaching & Learning’s Global Faculty Development Resources page. Each of the volumes in the Religions of the World series aims to present a short overview of one of the major religions of the world in a straightforward, easy-to-understand manner. Adler, a professor of eastern religions at Kenyon College does just that in this pleasing historical survey of religions in China. If you are looking for a quick introduction to Chinese religions this is a good place to start.

Adler focuses on four main traditions, Confucianism, Daoism, Buddhism, and popular religion. Popular religion, he explains, is eclectic, taking bits and pieces from other religions such as the worship of various gods, festivals, rituals, and ancestral worship. I especially like the way Adler goes through each Chinese dynasty historically, showing the development of each of these religions in each period.

Four ideas have prevailed throughout Chinese religious history: 1.) Change and transformation are fundamental to the nature of all things, including human life. 2.) Harmony and continuity of the family, including ancestor worship, are of fundamental importance, especially in Confucianism and popular religion. 3.) Religion and politics have always existed as a close bond in China, and even today, the government maintains a high level of control over religion. 4.) The linkage of the human and divine arenas (e.g. between human rulers and divine sovereignty) is considered a “unity of Heaven and humanity” or the “non-duality of the transcendent and the mundane” (p. 19).

Many readers will find interesting Adler’s explanation of the Chinese concepts of yin and yang as archetypes of high and low social positions. Adler quotes from a translation of Commentary on the Appended Phrases [of the Yijing]: “As Heaven is high and noble and Earth is low and humble, so it is that qian [pure yang] and kun [pure yin] are defined. The high and the low being thereby set out, the exalted and the mean have their places accordingly.” As Adler observes, “The ‘exalted’ and the ‘mean’ here refer to high and low social positions. Thus the text is outlining a parallel relationship between the natural world and the social world, thereby legitimizing the social hierarchy that has always characterized Chinese society” (p. 60).

This little historical guide is well put together, with tables showing the three major dynasties and major periods in Chinese history, and a great map of mainland China. Considering the increasing significance of China in world affairs, this work will assist the reader with a better understanding of the very important place religion has in Chinese culture.

R U Global — The Analects of Confucius

The Analects, by Confucius. Translated by Arthur Waley. London: Everyman Publishers, 2000.

The Essential Confucius: The Heart of Confucius’ Teachings in Authentic I Ching Order: A Compendium of Ethical Wisdom. Translated and presented by Thomas Cleary. Edison, NJ: Castle Books, 1998.

The Analects of Confucius (Lun Yu): A Literal Translation with an Introduction and Notes by Chichung Huang. New York: Oxford University Press, 1997.

Reviewed by Harold Henkel, Associate Librarian

Hear thou, my son, and be wise, and guide thine heart in the way.
-Proverbs 23:19

Set your heart upon the Way, support yourself by its power, lean upon Goodness…
-Analects 7:6

Open any article about the culture of China, Korea, Japan, or Vietnam, and you are likely to read that the defining factor explaining the assumptions and character of those countries and their peoples is the Confucian inheritance. Nearly everyone understands that Confucius (551 BC – 479 BC) is of incalculable importance for understanding the cultures of East Asia, but how many of us have actually read him?

The work for which Confucius is known in the West, The Analects, is a collection of aphorisms and bits of dialogue divided into twenty short “books,” but with no readily-discernable thematic organization. The word “analects” (from Greek analekta) means simply “miscellaneous written passages” or “literary gleanings.” The Chinese title, Lun Yu, according to translator Chichung Huang, means roughly “ethical dialogues.”

The Analects, though short, are not readily understandable without commentary, so it would seem important for first-time readers to pick the best edition. Finding a best edition however is rarely possible because all translations are compromises between achieving literal accuracy and capturing in English the original sense. The Library has well over twenty versions of The Analects. I shall briefly consider here just three.

Arthur Waley (1890-1966), studied classics at Cambridge before teaching himself Chinese and Japanese. According to scholar Sarah Allan, Waley was the most influential translator of the twentieth century, who “attempted to re-create the sense of the original work, not simply render its original meaning.”

Thomas Cleary (b. 1949) is probably the best-known and most prolific contemporary translator of Buddhist, Taoist, Confucian and Muslim classics. Although he has a Ph.D. from Harvard in East Asian Languages and Civilizations, Cleary holds no academic post, saying that he prefers to “stay independent and reach those who want to learn directly through my books.” His edition of The Analects (1992) attempts to organize the sayings into themes of moral instruction.

Chichung Huang, according to Oxford University Press, is “a Chinese scholar born in a family of Confucian teachers and schooled in one of the last village Confucian schools in South China.” His translation of The Analects (1997) carries the sub-title “a literal translation with an introduction and notes,” and the publisher also claims that it is “far more literal than any English version still in circulation.”

Here for purpose of comparison is how Waley, Cleary, and Huang handle Analects 1:4, in which Master Zeng discusses the importance of self-examination:

Waley Cleary Huang
Every day I examine myself on these three points: in acting on behalf of others, have I always been loyal to their interests? In intercourse with my friends, have I always been true to my word? Have I failed to repeat the precepts that have been handed down to me? I examine myself three times a day: have I been unfaithful in planning for others? Have I been unreliable in conversation with friends? Am I preaching what I haven’t practiced myself? I daily thrice examine myself. In counseling men, have I not been wholeheartedly sincere? In associating with friends, have I not been truthful to my word? In transmitting something, have I not been proficient?

Which version is best? Lacking Chinese, I must take it on trust from Oxford that Huang’s version is the most literally accurate. For my part, Waley’s is stylistically the best prose, but Cleary’s is also perfectly acceptable. Since all three translators include helpful footnotes or endnotes, I would probably choose Waley, but keep Huang to consult where Waley is vague. I would also keep Cleary on hand for his always excellent notes and commentary.

It need hardly be said that the growing power and influence of East Asia in world affairs makes an acquaintance with Confucius and The Analects essential for anyone wishing to understand this vital region. An even greater reason for making the effort to read Confucius is the opportunity to learn wisdom from one of the world’s great teachers.