Local author takes global view linking faith and culture
By FRANCES JAQUES, Staff Writer
After traveling the world to report on religious issues, an Annapolis author has published a global view of how religion and culture are
"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
"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)
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