Thursday, June 17, 2010

New Titles of Interest to Pagans

As a member of the AAR, I am on the mailing list of lots of academic and religious publishing houses so I get their catalogs. I enjoy perusing them and sometimes come up with some intriguing titles. Here are few from the latest from Ashgate's Religious Studies and Theology:

Invented Religions: Faith, Fiction, Imagination, Carol M. Cusack, University of Sydney, Australia. "...investigates four religious movements founded in the West which are intentionally fictional: Discordianism ["Chaos is a goddess"], the Church of All Worlds ["science fiction, environmentalism and a holistic pagan vision"], the Church of the SubGenius ["science fiction mythos, culture jamming, and the sacredness of slack"] and Jedism ["Third millennium invented religions"]. ... explores these groups as reactions against the religious marketplace of the 1950s and 1960s. Their continued appeal and success, principally in America but gaining wider audience through the 1980s and 1999s, is chiefly as a result of underground publishing and the internet." [my emphasis] Fewer than 100 pages for a hundred bucks!* I would imagine that an Aussie's perspective on these American phenomena would be enlightening.

From a series on Sexuality and Religion:

Indigenous Religions, edited by Stephen Hunt. This British scholar " full scope to the multitude of attitudes towards human sexuality found in expressions of religiosity outside of the so-called 'World Faiths,' with examples taken from cultures as far afield as Africa, Australasia, South American and the Pacific Islands" A whopping 800 pages for a whopping $250! I'm assuming by "World Faiths" they mean the Big Three Abrahamics, plus maybe Buddhism and Hinduism.

New Religions and Spiritualities, edited by Stephen Hunt. "...reveal the range of contentious attitudes towards human sexuality from the so-called 'new spiritualities,' quasi-religions and the more 'hidden' forms of religiosity, which are now evident on a global scale." [My emphasis.] Contentious, eh? I'm guessing that we Pagans may be among those referred to as "new spiritualities" or "quasi-religions." Five hundred pages for $250!

From series on Vitality of Indigenous Religions: Blackfoot Religion and the Consequences of Cultural Commoditization, Kenneth Hayes Lokensgard, ("Commoditization" is a longer way of saying "commodify.") "...explores the exchange of Blackfoot 'medicine bundles' within contemporary Blackfoot culture and between the Blackfoot Peoples and Euro-Americans. ... deals with the attempts of some Blackfeet to repatriate ceremonial materials from Euro-American hands." There's that old cultural appropriation bugaboo again. For this hundred bucks you get not only 192 pages, but also four b&w illustrations and a map.

Crafting Contemporary Pagan Identities in a Catholic Society, Kathryn Rountree, Massey University, New Zealand. "Contemporary western Paganism is now a global religious phenomenon with Pagans in many parts of the world sharing much in common -- from a nature-revering worldview and lifestyle to a host of chants, invocations, ritual tools and magical practices.

"Taking the Mediterranean society of Malta as a case study, ... [shows] what it is like being Pagan in a society where the vast majority of the population is Roman Catholic ... reveals that Paganism here is a unique brew of indigenous and global influences." [My emphasis.] Well, this book has a few more than 200 pages, plus 21 b&w illustrations, for another hundred bucks. I would love to hear those chants; bet we know many, if not most of them.

Another Southern Hemisphere perspective. I'm glad to see that our English-speaking neighbors below the Equator are getting funded to do this kind of research. Also, note that the word Pagan is capitalized in this book, but not in some of the others.

* Many of these books are available in hardback or as eBooks for the same price.

1 comment:

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