Return to Cauldron Home Page

Please donate now to pay our monthly server fees:
Donate to The Cauldron
[More Info]

Community Menu
Community Home

Message Board
Board Home
Board Rules
Board Extras:

CauldronMUX [Client]
Sister Forums:
   Asatru Lore


Site Info & Rules
Site Archives
Volunteers Needed
Advertise Here

Pagan Supplies
Buy Pagan Books
Buy Pagan Supplies

Books & Media
Books Home
Games Home
Music: Free | Pagan
Online Books
Pagan Book Browser
   Academic Books
   Divination Decks
   Fiction Books
   Pagan Books
   Speculative Books
   DVD & Videotape
Submit Review

Pagan Features
Article Library
Chat Log Index
File Library
Pagan Holidays
Pagan Primer
Pagan Rituals
Pagan Supplies
Pagan Youth
Spell Grimoire [Blog]
Web Resources

Pagan Living
Cauldron Cookbook
Take Political Action

Back Issues

Other Features
Greeting Cards
Syndicated Articles
World News/Opinion

Cheap Web Hosting
Doxy's Bazaar
Witchcraft Course

Old Indexes
Article Index
Webcrafting Index

Network Sites
Cauldron and Candle
Cauldron's Grimoire
RetroRoleplaying: The Blog
Software Gadgets
The Terran Empire

Site Search
Entire Web
The Cauldron

Member - Pagan Forum Alliance
Charter Member

Get Firefox! While this web site is designed to work in all major browsers, we recommend Firefox.

This site hosted on
a Linode VPS
Formerly hosted by

Why Use Dreamhost?

Site copyright
© 1998-2009
by Randall

Home > Books & Reviews > Pagan > Joy of Sects Search

Book Review:
The Joy of Sects: A Spirited Guide to the World's Religious Traditions

Author: Peter Occhiogrosso
Trade Paperback, 626 pages
Publisher: Image Books
Publication date: May 1996
ISBN: 0385425651
Price & More Info: Click Here

Additional books by this author


This book is a wonderful introduction to the major religions of the world. It's generally very easy to understand and while reasonably scholarly, it's not at all stuffy. Each chapter presents a major tradition (Hinduism, Buddhism, Taoism, Judaism, Christianity, Islam, New Age and Beyond), describing both that tradition's history and its various offshoots or related sects. In addition, each chapter has a "Good Books" section, discussing the major sacred texts of the religion(s) under discussion; an "Inside a..." section, describing a typical place of worship; and a glossary. A lengthy bibliography is included, and the index is very helpful, with boldfaced numbers indicating the page(s) with definitions or explanations.

All religions are treated with respect, yet not uncritically. Each tradition is shown complete with its flaws, and in many cases, the negative aspects are shown to be more the result of succeeding human interpretation rather than original prophet intent, so far as we can tell. One of the most useful aspects to this reviewer was the connections and inter-relatedness made between the various traditions - I came away with a much greater belief in the idea that all religions are searching for the same thing, although they may use different vocabulary, rituals, and other details in the searching. It is difficult to think of many traditions not represented here - Asatru, Druidism, and Satanism are the only ones that come to mind. Witchcraft, along with many pagan ideas, is part of the "New Age and Beyond" section, but is presented fairly, if briefly, quoting a section from Starhawk's "The Spiral Dance."

However, there are some caveats. First, there are boxed sections throughout the book providing anecdotal or supplemental information. However, in many cases these fall in the middle of a discussion, and sometime even start in the middle of a paragraph or sentence, thus requiring the reader either to mentally switch topics back and forth, or to physically flip pages back and forth. Second, in some cases so much information is presented that one may become confused. In my case, this happened particularly with the "Good Book" section of the Taoism chapter, which on first reading, seemed to be attributing the sacred books of Taoism to Confucianism. Third, due to the publication dates of the book, some recent events may have rendered certain discussions in the book out of date - for example, the fatwa (death sentence) on author Salman Rushdie by the Ayatollah Khomeini has since been lifted.

In all, despite these concerns, I would recommend this book to those who are looking for a reference to the various religions of the world and how they fit together. In my case, I'll let my actions speak for me - I'm actually going to buy my own copy to keep.

Reviewed by Julian

Additional Books by Peter Occhiogrosso

Top | Home | Message Board | Site Info & Rules | Report Site Problems
Thanks to Cauldron Sponsors
(Sponsor The Cauldron!)

Cheap Web Hosting Report | Pagan & Magick Supplies
Witchcraft Course
Download Hundreds of Magic Spells