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Meditation 199
An Ocean of Theology

A Review

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At least some of us would like to have the capability to check out writings from various religions. There is a site - Ocean - which offers a free library of over 1000 texts from 9 different religions which you can download and have readily available on your own computer. It's a lot of documents and the download is about 25 Mb. Alternatively, if you don't have broadband, you can get everything on a CD for shipping costs.

The site is sponsored by the Baha'i Faith, and their aim in distributing this library is to promote amity among religions by showing they all have the same core message.

Regardless of what you feel about their purpose, this is a pretty good way to get hold of the key holy texts of Baha'i, Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam Judaism, Sikhism, Taoism & Zoroastrianism. The Christian texts provided, for example, include not only the Bible (KJV), but also writings of St. Augustine and Martin Luther, the Apocrypha, Book of Mormon and Dante's Divine Comedy.

The books come with a dedicated reader. It is a Windows 98 program so Linux and Mac users will need an emulator. And it does not work well in Windows XP - you will need to set the program's properties to Win98 compatibility mode to make it work. And even then you might find it a little buggy.

However, you do not have to use the reader though it does have useful features. All the text files are in .txt format, so any document processor can be used to read them. You will find them in the program directory (Ocean.) But even if you are content with bypassing the reader, it is worthwhile to use it occasionally as it checks for updates. New books do get added to the library.

For free distribution, these have to be public domain documents. This means the translations are fairly old, mostly about a century. So most recent scholarship is not reflected in these translations. Also, the library consists mostly of religious texts. There is very little analysis and no guides to comparison. That sort of research is left up to you.

If you want to research other religions, if the beliefs of others interests you, if you are just looking for a useful quotation, this package is excellent. Taking the time for the download is quite worthwhile. If you missed the link at the top, you will find this library at Ocean. And you don't have to register or give them any personal information.