Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Book review - Animism: Respecting the Living World

Animism: Respecting the Living World by Dr. Graham Harvey  honors and presents indigenous and environmentalist spiritualities in which people celebrate human relationships with "significant other-than-human beings." This new use of the term ‘animism’ applies to the religious worldviews and way of life for communities and cultures who promote living respectfully within the wider community of ‘persons’.

In this new book Graham Harvey discusses a number of examples of religious cultures such as Ojibwe, Maori, Aboriginal Australian and eco-Pagan to demonstrate the diversity of ways of being animist. He presents case studies that are examples of issues that arise among animists. How, for example, do we distinguish between  animate persons and inanimate objects? What does death mean if everything in the world is alive? What role do deities, tricksters, shamans, totems, elders and others play in animistic traditions and relationships?

The book asks the reader to take animism seriously, arguing that animists and their understanding of the world can contribute significantly to contemporary debates about consciousness, cosmology and environmentalism.  The ideas  that ‘animism’ is about a ‘beliefs in spirits’, attributing life to inanimate objects or the projection of human attributes on to ‘non-humans’ are rejected in favour of a "nuanced and positive evaluation of indigenous and environmentalist understandings that the world would be a better place if humans celebrated their relationships with all of life."

I believe that many of us would feel that our spirituality is a part of or very close to the ideas presented here. So it would seem to me that this book should be very much worth reading.

Generic Disclaimer
I have not received anything from anybody to notice this book on this blog. I will have to buy the book just like everyone else.