Despite the technological advances and public policies that have improved many features of human life, globalization and the attendant integration of peoples has brought many problems. Miroslav Volf’s latest book, Flourishing: Why We Need Religion in a Globalized World, respectfully challenges this notion and argues for a more robust understanding of the relationships between and within globalization and world religions.
Flourishing is divided into two parts. First, Volf describes the challenges of religions and globalization. Shaped by the first part, the second part expands on his thesis that religions act as vehicles of human flourishing by describing the implications of reconciliation, violence, and religious exclusivism. Throughout the text, interesting points are developed. How do we embrace rather than exclude each other in a world of diversity? How do we challenge and acknowledge our limitations without losing identity? Why should there be a world religions dialogue with globalization, and how can this conversation enhance human flourishing in light of the transcendent? Volf develops a vision of the future that pushes for love, forgiveness and compassion, a vision that truly merits respect.
The goal of Flourishing is twofold. First, Volf’s objective is to develop a better understanding of the relationship between world religions and globalization. Second, Volf directs us towards a healthier understanding of where this relationship is heading in the future. This sets the backdrop for his main thesis that is centered on a core interest in the ways world religions, through their participation in a globalized world and a focus on the transcendence, can “turn out to be a blessing in the world” (26). The text speaks to an academic audience but colors the main points with everyday language that embraces three publics: society, church and academia. Stimulated by his own faith and interest in such conversations, Volf has created a work that liberates these relationships and highlights the importance of practices and convictions that express a peaceful approach to world religions and globalization.
Volf’s book causes us to investigate how “visions of human flourishing are already embedded in our instructions, practices and in the depths of our souls” (21), and how respect for people honors the internal resources that help foster reconciliation, pluralism, and an appreciation of diversity. Complementing his earlier works, Volf’s latest contribution makes an impact on the ways in which we can appreciate world religions in a globalized world. The text itself seems to pave a path for human flourishing.
Jane M. Curry is a doctoral student in Practical Theology at St. Thomas University, Miami Gardens, Florida.
Date Of Review:
September 17, 2016
Miroslav Volf is the Henry B. Wright Professor of Theology at Yale University and the author of several books, including Exclusion and Embrace, winner of the Louisville Grawemeyer Award in Religion.
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