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A World Full of Gods: An Inquiry into Polytheism Paperback – September 20, 2005


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: ADF Publishing (September 20, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0976568101
  • ISBN-13: 978-0976568100
  • Product Dimensions: 7.8 x 5.3 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #766,838 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

John Michael Greer is the author of twelve published and forthcoming books on alternative spirituality and magic, including Druidry: A Green Way of Wisdom (Weiser, 2005). Active in many branches of the contemporary Druid community, he is a member of ADF, as well as the current head of the Ancient Order of Druids in America (AODA), and received the Mount Haemus Award from the Order of Bards Ovates and Druids (OBOD) in 2003 for his research into the history of modern Druidry. He lives in the Siskiyou Mountains of southern Oregon with his wife Sara.

More About the Author

Born in the gritty Navy town of Bremerton, Washington and raised in the south Seattle suburbs, I began writing about as soon as I could hold a pencil. SF editor George Scithers' dictum that all would-be writers have a million words of so of bad prose in them, and have to write it out, pretty much sums up the couple of decades between my first serious attempt to write a book and my first published book, "Paths of Wisdom", which appeared in 1996. These days I live in Cumberland, Maryland with my spouse Sara; serve as presiding officer -- Grand Archdruid is the official title -- of the Ancient Order of Druids in America (AODA), a Druid order founded in 1912; and write in half a dozen nonfiction fields, nearly all of them focused on the revival of forgotten ideas, insights, and traditions of practice from the rubbish heap of history.

Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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Do yourself a favor, read this book.
Dale Overman
This is an excellent work that explores, in depth, the concept of belief in a polytheistic view of divinity, and makes several solid philosophical arguments.
BibliophilePagan
I hope to see many more books like this.
Freysson

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

44 of 44 people found the following review helpful By Freysson on March 22, 2006
Format: Paperback
If you have ever wanted a book to put forth a good intellectual case for polytheism, this is the book. That may mean you just want to know why those strange people believe that stuff, or that you are a serious student of religion who wants insights for the Western mind into the religous stance of a large part of the world's population. Greer does this, and does it well...

Additionally he starts to address the classical philosophical arguements for monotheism and where they are lacking. If this book had been around a number of years ago, a lot of people who felt bullied by semi-informed people with half of an arguement whould have had a lot better time of it. If you have proplems with apologists, this book can also be a help.

Most of all however, this is a real serious book that goes far beyond the usual Pagan fare. It is serious and takes the MIND seriously rather than just ignoring it with an off the cuff "you have to experience it to understand", which is totally unsatisfying to those who have spent a lot of time and effort in their religous seeking. The mind and logic cannot be ignored. Greer doesn't. I hope to see many more books like this.
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45 of 46 people found the following review helpful By Diana L. Paxson on November 9, 2005
Format: Paperback
When modern pagans engage in interfaith discussion they often have difficulty articulating our position in terms that other faiths will understand. What Greer has done is to provide the intellectual tools needed to engage in such discussions, presenting the basic theological and philosophical premises and arguments for and against monotheism and polytheism in a clear, accessible style. Polytheists will be delighted to have a rationale for their beliefs that goes beyond "it works for me", and monotheists may find themselves questioning some basic assumptions. I will be recommending this book for use in the pagan clergy training programs with which I am involved.
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56 of 60 people found the following review helpful By John P. Plummer VINE VOICE on October 31, 2005
Format: Paperback
The revival of paganism in recent decades has not yet produced much sustained theological reflection. This is as one might expect, given the pressures of building new communities, and providing the resources needed to support developing spiritual practice. As pagan communities stabilize and grow, second order reflection begins to appear. It is a delight to discover John Michael Greer's newest book, a theological offering of which any spiritual tradition could be proud.

Greer has many decades of pagan spiritual practice under his belt. He currently heads a major Druid order, and participates actively in a number of other organizations and projects. He approaches his subject with a well-informed ease and an intellectual grace which are completely refreshing.

While fully in dialogue with contemporary theological scholarship, Greer's book is accessible to the non-academic reader. He rightly points to the foundational nature of religious experience in today's pagan world. Theology and practice are judged on the basis of experience, and not vice versa. Looking at the wide range of religious experience reported by human beings, Greer comes to the common-sense conclusion that such experience varies so widely as to be "inherently polytheistic" (70). Moreover:

"... [I]t's perfectly valid to say of gods and neutrinos alike that while we don't know if they actually exist, the universe appears to work as though they do. In religious experiences, certainly, the gods appear to be real entities external to the human mind and nervous system. Until solid evidence or sound reasoning shows that this is definitely not the case, accepting it as a working hypothesis is at least as reasonable as rejecting it out of hand.
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29 of 29 people found the following review helpful By Erynn Laurie on September 7, 2006
Format: Paperback
I found a lot to agree with in John Michael's material, and have very few complaints about it -- actually only one real technical complaint at all, concerning his characterization of the Audacht Morainn as a Pagan text when all the written texts of Ireland are from the Christian period and bear its influence.

He shows the major arguments for monotheism as "better than" polytheism for the straw men they are, and argues that real world evidence suggests polytheism as a logical explanation for the vast variety of human spiritual experiences. John Michael deals with the whole "all religions are really talking about the same thing" argument the same way I do -- they aren't. We're not all climbing to the same mountaintop. In fact, we may not all be looking to climb mountains at all, and that's just fine.

I think that monotheists of all stripes are going to come away from this book feeling very uncomfortable, but considering the deathgrip that monotheism has had on theology for the past 1500 or so years, it's good to have that complacency poked and disabused. John Michael argues that polytheism's inclusiveness is its strength, and a more accurate reflection of reality than the exclusivity of monotheism with its warring "exclusively true" texts that contradict one another in their generalities and their specifics. Greer manages to show how monotheism chokes on its own circular logic, and that isn't going to set well with mainstream religions at all. At the same time, I think it's essential for Pagans doing interfaith work to have this information and these arguments in their arsenal, and it would probably be a good idea to share it with your monotheist colleagues to show them just how *different* our worldviews really are from their own.
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