Religion and development

Religion and Development: Ways of Transforming the World

Article excerpt

Religion and Development: Ways of Transforming the World. Edited by Genie ter Haar. New York: Columbia Univ. Press, 2011. Pp. 428. $45.

The wording of the title, Religion and Development, may sound rather paradoxical to many postmodern scholars in the West, but noting what ordinary people do on the ground, Gerrie ter Haar brilliantly demonstrates that religion uniquely and effectively contributes to world development.

This book, divided into four parts, is the fruit of eighteen contributors from various backgrounds. Part 1 is conceptual in nature. It affirms the centrali ty of religion in international affairs and the important contribution of faith institutions. In the last chapter of this section, Louke van Wensveen shows why scholarly communities are reluctant to « cooperate in efforts to enhance the instrumental use of religion for mechanistic development purposes » (p. 108).

The second section explores the role of religion in economics, arguing that religion plays a role in « enhancing economic development » (p. 11). It is worth noticing that the last two chapters of this section bring Islamic perspectives into the discussion, which is valuable, given the current global religious context.

Part 3 acknowledges the role of religion in achieving the U.N.’s Millennium Development Goals. It is clear that religion is built into people’s life and worldview and that many religious figures are already making a difference. …

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