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Radical Revolution of Values: Reclaiming Our Spiritual Heritage, Preserving Our Freedoms, and Countering Terrorism
Saeed, Azam
Inspired by the call of Martin Luther King to build a better world through a radical revolution of one’s values, Saeed’s sweeping, encouraging book offers a vision of how to counter overwhelming geopolitical crises, challenges to societal and institutional structures, and a generalized feeling of doomed decline. He finds an avenue to facing those problems in what many might consider one of their sources: religious belief. Saeed urges readers to open themselves to understanding other faiths and their traditions, especially areas of overlap, such as most faiths’ centering of the heart as the source of self-knowledge, and to heed King’s imperative to challenge our own thinking, systems, and values, with an eye toward “racism, militarism, and extreme materialism.” He strives to separate personal belief rooted in respect for other faiths and perspectives with the religious institutions and teachers that have, over millennia, “abuse[d]” religion by turning believers against “others” and “manipulat[ing] the basic human needs to belong and to believe in something greater than our own selves.”

To demonstrate that religion might “still be the most reliable vehicle available to the human race in addressing some of the most difficult issues,” Saeed illuminates connections between the teaching of varied religious traditions, presenting faith as something that binds humanity beyond material concerns and encourages, across traditions and continents, “connectedness of mutual respect, of commonality.” Anecdotes of people of faith moving mountains in the collective interest are affecting and persuasive, as is Saeed’s drawing of a sharp distinction between personal religious belief and religious institutions, which, like all human institutions, are corruptible.

The range of faiths and thinkers Saeed draws upon is broad—the Upanishads, Hobbes, Bertrand Russell, Zen masters, neuropsychologists, apocryphal scriptures. His prose, though, is as direct and inviting as his conclusions, which prize humanity’s capacity for “extraordinarily positive decisions and actions” over our capacity for selfish divisiveness. Heartening but clear-eyed about the state of the world, Radical Revolution of Values calls for the best kind of revolution.

Takeaway: This sweeping survey of religions finds promise for humanity in understanding faith and each other.

Great for fans of: Will Deming’s Rethinking Religion: A Concise Introduction, Karen Armstrong’s The Great Transformation.

Production grades
Cover: B
Design and typography: A-
Illustrations: N/A
Editing: A-
Marketing copy: A