Bahá'í Library Online
.. . .
Back to Newspaper articles archive: 2003


Local author takes global view linking faith and culture


After traveling the world to report on religious issues, an Annapolis author has published a global view of how religion and culture are intertwined.

"Everybody has core beliefs that come out of religious cultures," said Ira Rifkin, a newspaper writer for more than 20 years. "It doesn't matter where you were born."

In his new book, "Spiritual Perspectives on Globalization: Making Sense of Economic and Cultural Upheaval," he defines the basic foundations of the world's major religions -- Baha'is, Buddhists, Hindus, Jews, Muslims, Protestants, Roman Catholics and a few tribal religions.

Mr. Rifkin, 60, hopes his book will help readers become "literate" about religious differences and learn to respect the beliefs of others.

Mr. Rifkin has been writing about religion since 1985 when he got tired of covering the Hollywood scene.

"I was writing about movies and movie stars and seeing so many bad movies I needed a change," he said.

He suggested to his newspaper, the Los Angeles Daily News, that he would like to cover religion. Since the Pope was due to visit the city soon, he was given that beat, which has continued to be his interest.

This focus has taken him to India to study with spiritualists; to Israel, where he has written for The Jerusalem Report and The Jerusalem

Post; and to Mexico, Peru, Ecuador and Panama.

Mr. Rifkin and his wife, Ruth Berlin, a psychotherapist, moved to Annapolis about 13 years ago. Both are native New Yorkers, and they wanted to move back east after living in California. They've become members of the Conservative Jewish congregation Kol Ami.

Since returning to Maryland, he has been a national correspondent for the Religion News Service and has written for the Baltimore Jewish Times. He continues to do freelance writing for newspapers and magazines.

His first book, "Seventy-five Extraordinary People Who Changed the World in the Past Century," was published last year by Skylight Paths of Vermont.
The publisher suggested the idea for this second book. He started writing in January 2002 and completed it by late summer.

"It was a real push," Mr. Rifkin said. "Some days I worked on it 14 to 16 hours."

With the world's economic, cultural and religious communities offering diverse views, faithful believers are often left in a state of confusion. Mr. Rifkin explores the basic tenets of religions and how they're affected by economic and cultural globalization.

He writes in his preface: "Globalization is about the promotion of consumer values that feed on the perception that happiness is rooted in material progress, that choice equals the highest freedom and that being well connected is more important than being deeply connected."

He believes that the speed with which this globalization is taking place is "outstripping the human capacity to adjust."

The book costs $16.95 and is available at major bookstores in the area.

Ira Rifkin will be signing his new book, "Spiritual Perspectives on Globalization: Making Sense of Economic & Cultural Upheaval." at the following locations:

Borders Books and Music, in Gateway Plaza on Route 301 in Bowie, at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday.

Barnes & Noble in the Annapolis Harbour Center on Solomons Island Road, at 7:30 p.m. Thursday.

©Copyright 2003, The Capital (IN, USA)

Following is the URL to the original story. The site may have removed or archived this story. URL:

. .