Pagan, Shinto & Spiritual Book Reviews July 2016

This month Pagan Tama has previews of two as yet unreleased titles from Moon Books, in addition to books on interfaith, cellular biology and occult murder mysteries!

jul2016


CelebratingPlanetEarthDenise Cush (ed.), Celebrating Planet Earth, a Pagan/Christian Conversation: First Steps in Interfaith Dialogue
(Moon Books, 2015)

★★★ Read of the Month! ★★★

This is an important book. Actually I might even go as far as to say that this should be on the “essential reading” list for Pagans new to their path, and not simply because I am involved in the interfaith movement. This book really teaches the reader to examine Paganism in an objective and, at times, critical manner.

Based on real-life interfaith dialogue between representatives of Christian and Pagan faiths, Celebrating Planet Earth is a collection of essays by various authors from both religions about the importance, benefits, and challenges of interfaith. What impressed me most (aside from the quality of the writing, which is consistently excellent) is that “interfaith” is not approached as simply a happy-clappy ideal, but as a practical experiment or project with real difficulties – in some cases, seemingly insurmountable difficulties. This approach means that some uncomfortable arguments about Christianity and Paganism are confronted head-one from the outsetOne such argument is that Paganism’s mythic history, which puts Christians squarely in the role of villains who actively oppressed Pagans and witches throughout the ages (a rhetoric for which we largely have Margaret Murray to thank), is just as damaging to Christian-Pagan relationships now as some Christians’ assertions that Pagans are in league with the Devil.

Once these issues that cause friction between Pagans and Christians are aired and discussed, the writers of Celebrating Planet Earth then sets themselves the task of bridge-building, reconciliation and finding common ground. This includes thoughts on interfaith ritual, the concept of “Forest Church,” and a fascinating and convincing attempt to syncretise aspects of Christianity and Druidism together by Philip Carr-Gomm.

I did feel that the content of Celebrating Planet Earth was rather weighted towards Paganism, which could leave some Christian readers feeling a bit left out.  But on the whole, it is a successful achievement as an introduction to Christian-Pagan interfaith dialogue.  Very readable, filled with brilliant insight, and vigilant in highlighting the misconceptions that act as a barrier in building Christian-Pagan relationships, Celebrating Planet Earth should be thoroughly praised for its inspiring message and proactive, realistic approach to promoting mutual understanding between different religions.

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About Megan Manson

Megan Manson is an eclectic Pagan from the UK who also practises Shinto, the Japanese "Way Of The Gods." She is actively involved in the field of Japan-UK relations, interfaith activities, and her local Pagan community.

Follow her at https://www.facebook.com/PaganTama