Saturday, August 2, 2008

Pantheist or religious Naturalist

Yeah, I am such a reader these days. I just finished Standing in the Light, My Life as a Pantheist by Sharman Apt Russell. Its a spiritual biography that I bought from the author at a reading at Powells. I couldn't stay away when I read about it in the Oregonian.

My life as a pantheist, I thought, maybe that is me! Indeed. It seems to be. A pantheist believes that God can be found in the world and only in the whole of the world. Russell considers herself a scientific pantheist in that her understanding of science gives her a greater feeling for the intricate ways that the world connects.

Standing in the Light is a pretty good book. Beautifully written by a careful writer who admires and often writes about science. She alternates chapters on her own life living in rural New Mexico on the Gila River, with very informative chapters on Quakerism, the Stoics, Marcus Aurelius, Spinoza, the Transcendentalists, Taoism. The chapter notes alone are worth the price of the book with its list of books I should read and now want to.

Her presence in the book is rather restrained as if she wasn't quite willing to be the center of attention. If I have a criticism, and I don't really, it would be say more about you Sharman! Still, since I have met her, I can see her walking on a mountain mesa road, reading Marcus Aurelius' Meditations. (Yes, she walks and reads at the same time).

She mentions two websites I plan on checking out: (the Institute of Religion in the Age of Science) and (The World Patheist Movement).

Oh, what the heck! -- here is a list of books that Russell inspires me to want to read:

The Dream of Reason: A History of Philosophy from the Greeks to the Renaissance by Anthony Gottlieb. This is one I wouldn't normally even consider but Russell calls it "engaging and stimulating " in her chapter notes. Really!

Meditations by Marcus Aurelius. trans. Gregory Hays. I will read it in bed however. It must be good because Russell confesses a crush on Aurelius.

Drawing down the Moon by Margot Adler

Looking for Spinoza: Joy, Sorrow, and the Feeling Brain by Antonio Damasio or Spinoza: A Life by Steven Nadler. Well, it is a stretch that I would ever read a biography of Spinoza, but if I do, I will for sure brag about it here.

Goatwalking: A Guide to Wildland Living and a Quest for the Peaceable Kingdom by Jim Corbett. This sounds wonderfully strange.

Upheavals of Thought: the Intelligence of Emotion by Martha C. Nussbaum. Another one to brag on if I read it.

Mrs Dalloway by Virginia Woolf. I've read this but not since I was in my teens. It has to read differently now.

Deep Ecology by Bill Duval and George Sessions

The Dream of Earth by Thomas Berry or his The Great Work: Our Way into the Future

Buddha by Karen Armstrong and The great Transformation: The Beginning of Our Religious Traditions also by Karen Armstrong

The Tao of the West by J. J. Clarke

Animate Earth: Science, Intuition and Gaia by Stephan Harding

Books by James Lovelock -- the founder of the Gaia theory

The Sacred Depths of Nature by Ursula Goodenough. Who has, by the way, a name that I envy. She calls herself a religious naturalist, not a pantheist. It kind of goes with her name. Religious naturalist is good enough, I don't need some fancy unusual title for my religious impulses, I can imagine her thinking.

More from Henry David Thoreau and Ralph Waldo Emerson, maybe The Essential Transcendentalists ed by Richard Geldard

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