Sacred Cows: A lighthearted look at belief and tradition around the world, by Seth Andrews

My Copy: 978147874996 (image from

I’ve heard of some of the religious traditions mentioned in this book before, but I love the introductory presentation. Yes, some of this is intense and perplexing, but it also makes you try to imagine it and how you’d react to seeing it.

That’s what I like about Seth Andrews and his podcast and presentations–his writing style does the same thing there.

Sacred Cows is a book that’s taking plenty of subjects that Andrews has already addressed in his The Thinking Atheist podcast and put them in one text. This doesn’t say much about Christianity, except for the very-intense Philippines Easter celebrations or the faith healers. It touches on many cultures and the things they do for a healthy harvest, healthy children, etc.

I like how Sacred Cows has footnotes to consult for more information. I’m good with that, and the illustrations mostly work. Some might criticize the book for being too sarcastic or harsh–text or illustrations–but it’s not nearly as bad as it could’ve been. Some people who are devoted Christians might feel awkward about the Christian sections, but when you have a book like Sacred Cows, some of that just has to be expected.

I actually burst out laughing at some of the things I read, especially when it got to the chapter about Jediism and other pop-culture philosophies that have created actual belief systems to live by. I could consider myself an aspiring Dudeist more than any other label (and should probably go digging for a copy of the “Abide Guide” when I get a chance…hmm…).

I mean, I saw books on the shelves about the philosophy of the Jedi, or The Dude, but never imagined an actual (mostly web-based) pop-religion that would give you cards or certificates ordaining you as a member.


Anyway, if you’re wondering about some of the strange customs or religious traditions that occur around the world, this one’s a good start for a guide. Some of these rituals have a component that could be practical; others you can’t figure out why the culture still adheres to it.

Why some things persist is the ultimate question for me at this point.

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