#Essential Reads: Living with the Gods

Editor | Non-fiction

One of the central facts of human existence is that every society shares a set of belief and assumptions — a faith, an ideology, a religion — that goes far beyond the life of the individual. These beliefs are an essential part of a shared identity.

They have a unique power to define and to divide us, and are a driving force in the politics of much of the world today. Throughout history they have most often been, in the widest sense, religious.

Yet Neil MacGregor’s book, Living with the Gods (Published by Penguin, Price Rs 999), is not a history of religion, or an argument in favor of faith. It is about the stories which give shape to our lives, and the different ways in which societies imagine their place in the world.

Looking across history and around the globe, it interrogate objects, places and human activities to try to understand what shared beliefs can mean in the public life of a community or a nation, how they shape the relationship between the individual and the state, and how they help give us our sense of who we are.

For in deciding how we live with our gods, we also decide how to live with each other.

About the author

Neil MacGregor was the Director of the British Museum 2002-2015. He was Director of the National Gallery in London from 1987 to 2002. His celebrated books include A History of the World in 100 Objects now translated into more than a dozen languages.

 

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