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Elements of Pantheism 2nd Edition
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Top Customer Reviews
Nevertheless, don't imagine that this is a scholar's book: with about 100 pages of text, it is just a simple introduction--but a good one, accessible to average readers.
In the first chapter, "What is Pantheism?" Harrison explains that pantheism is a religious reverence for nature or the universe, embracing science and affirming life. He contrasts it so several other "isms," such as atheism, panentheism, and so on.
He writes that "when Pantheists refer to the Universe as their god, what they really mean is that they feel the same profound sense of awe and reverence that other believers feel towards their gods. ... Although it does not tell us anything extra about the Universe itself, it expresses the powerful emotions that Pantheists towards the universe." This alludes to high scholarly discussion and criticism of pantheism, but Harrison makes the discussion no more complicated than that.
Chapters two and three sketch a history of pantheism from ancient times to the twentieth century.Read more ›
Harrison does a credible job explaining pantheism, what it is and is not, and where it fits on the broad continuum of belief. I particularly liked his forthright manner of confronting the soul-less and desolate landscape of atheism. Panthiesm is an ancient philosophy which can satisfy thinking humans who recognize that there is more to themselves than just their bodies in this one life.
Harrison falls short, in my opinion, in only one area, which is why I would not give the book "5 stars". His own orientation is toward "physicalist pantheism", which views the physical world as its own spiritual experience, as the only reality, and chooses to not address the issues of soul, afterlife, and the progession of humankind back to its divine origins. He acknowledges that there is a "dualist school of thought" in panthism, which does believe in a soul, and which does see a purpose to life beyond just this one life we are currently living. Unfortunately, he stops with this acknowledgement and really doesn't explain it thoroughly, and does not explore Eastern thought in any significant depth.
Since the book is short (and very readible), adding another 25 or 30 pages to explore Eastern Thought and the play of pantehism in those cultures, would have been a wonderful inclusion to Harrison's book. Nevertheless, I would highly recommend the book to any spiritual seekers - especuially those not up to reading Spinoza, but who still want to consider all the alternatives.
As for me, I came away from the book with a much more positive attitude toward pantheism.
This book centers chiefly on what Harrison calls "natural" or "scientific" pantheism in contrast to a more religious form of pantheism, which is often referred to as panentheism, which believes that absolute reality contains the known universe but is more than the known universe. Panentheism, IMO, is more suitable for those who seek a belief in supernatural or "spiritual" power/being rather than just the material dimension.
I appreciated the scientific content, as I try to keep up-to-date on science. As a Pantheist I often think of how important scientific findings tie into the whole, and Paul Harrison obviously is well-read on a lot of issues--and does a wonderful job communicating them from a Pantheistic perspective.
Other aspects that impressed me in ELEMENTS OF PANTHEISM were the history of Pantheism, Pantheism's ethical implications, and the various ways to practice Pantheism. All of these were thought-provoking.
Too, I appreciated the content about intellectual arguments going on in the world of Pantheism today. They pose a great challenge for Pantheistic thinkers everywhere to base their faith on careful reasoning and not wishful thinking alone.
Pantheism does have a wonderful potential for growth in the world. Paul Harrison's book, in my opinion, is (and will continue to be) an important part of realizing that vision.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
after searching and jumping from atheism to non-religious and all in between.... i finally found the mold that i perfectly fit. Read morePublished 6 months ago by alexandra martinez
Very, very, very generally there are two grossly simplified pantheism categories in my experience. There are people who need a name/context to describe what they have felt... Read morePublished 10 months ago by Susan Jane
What a great read about the role of religious practice within the context of a spiritual life. Thought-provoking and an enjoyable read by an impassioned author. Read morePublished 13 months ago by Diana MacNeil
Wonderful book for exploring a way to approach religion in a scientific world. A must read! I have identified as Pagan for about 15 years, and this book really helped me to focus... Read morePublished on December 6, 2013 by Le fae
I have been searching for answers all my life! I am now 71 yrs. This book was well written. It explains clearly the concepts of pantheism. My questions have been answered!Published on July 29, 2013 by jean neil
Well, it's an easy read. I cannot say it is terribly academic or super-intellectual. I think it's message is simple and direct. Read morePublished on July 12, 2013 by Stark
Everyone (Pantheist or not) should read this book just to get some insight into religion in general. GOD is ENERGY, not a 500 foot tall white man with all white everything. Read morePublished on February 14, 2013 by Makell Bird
The book arrived in great time. The book was written very clear and was informative. I enjoyed it a lot.Published on February 12, 2012 by peaches