December 5, 2008

The Story of Religion by Betsy and Giulo Maestro

Let me say first that I thought this was an excellent book!  The reviews on Amazon for The Story of Religion were less than helpful.   Half of them said the author had a Buddhist slant and the other half seemed to really love it.  We checked it out from the library last week and read it this afternoon.  Robotson was actually interested in most of it, asking questions and listening.  I definitely want to pick this one up if I can.  I found a seller on Amazon that has it for under $20.  I think it's well worth that.  

The illustrations are beautiful and were the first to capture Robotson's attention.  He liked the different masks that Native Americans and Africans used in their dances to the gods.  He also seemed really interested in the Hindu gods.  I was delighted to see that because of a recommendation for The Little Book of Hindu Deities that I got from Rolfe Schmidt, a secular homeschooling blog.  I think that will be a fun one to check out next.   What I liked most about this book was the history and evolution of human belief systems.  It starts out by explaining that humans didn't understand the world around them, so they made invisible beings responsible.  At first there were many of them, but over time as we understood more about the world around us, we gravitated to monotheism.  I'm not sure Robotson picked up on just how recent this change really is.  I was very glad to see it put into context.  The end of the book explains that not everyone is religious and how important it is to realize that there are many belief systems.  It's more important to try to find our common ground than to try highlight the differences.  The golden rule is the stated underlying theme in all religions, and there are quotes from each in the back of the book.  

As to the charge of the book focusing more on Buddhism, there was probably more information on this but it is one of the oldest belief systems, and one of the nicest.  I think the problem most people had with the book was that it was mentioned twice how Buddhists don't talk about God or gods.  Why they are practically atheists!  I'd take Buddhism over any others in a heartbeat, thank you very much.  

So I would recommend this to parents who want to introduce the major religions to their children.  If you want them to have a history and understanding of other beliefs, this is the place to start for sure.  I really think it's presented in such a way that if they are paying enough attention, the message is religion was started by human to explain the unexplainable.  It evolved over time but it's still man-made.   


  1. Thanks for the recommendation. Sounds great!

  2. Sweet, it works! Thanks for fixing it, Sarah. :)

    SLF from Atheist Nexus

  3. Sorry to intrude, but your (welcome) link to the European Humanist Federation is to our old site: the new one is at - and is much, much better!

    And you might like to add the British Humanist Federation at


    David Pollock (EHF President & BHA trustee)

  4. Thank you for the updated link David, I have changed it and added the British Humanist Federation as well. Intrude anytime!