You are on page 1of 8

Tribal Religion

Native American Storytelling: A Reader of Myths and Legends, Karl Kroeber
Representing a wide range of tribal cultures, this volume collects 23 of the earliest
translations by linguists and anthropologists. Kroeber (humanities, Columbia) divides the
narratives into three sections: general tales, origin narratives, and trickster tales--all
identified by tribe. Variations in print stock visually separate the sections. This arrangement
permits the editor to write specialized introductions for each section and thus address issues
applicable to each. The opening introduction will be useful for a general audience, since it
presents some of the cultural issues and complexities that must be considered when reading
the stories from a non-Native point of view. Each story has a short introduction of its own
that addresses some tribally specific issues in narrative. This collection can be read on a
number of different levels. One can read the entire volume for enjoyment or as a guide to
the complexities and larger issues of oral tradition; individual stories can be read as
examples of specific tribal cultures. However approached, this book is interesting, versatile,
and thought-provoking. ^BSumming Up: Highly recommended. All collections; all levels. B.
Hans University of North Dakota

A Seat at the Table: Huston Smith in Conversation with Native Americans on
Religious Freedom, Huston Smith

This excellent volume presents interviews conducted by religious historian Smith (emer.,
Syracuse) with noted Native scholars, activists, and leaders. What makes it important and
unique are the words and voices of highly respected Native Americans who help readers
understand the 500-year-long struggle for indigenous religious rights in North America, and
other issues and challenges relating to practice and preservation of Native spirituality. These
include language; loss of land, rivers, and forests to development despite the centrality of
land, place, and indigenous plants and animals to spiritual tradition; protection of
endangered sacred sites; legal impediments; cultural appropriation; prisoners' rights; and
the Human Genome Project. In 1999, Smith interviewed the late Vine Deloria Jr. (Lakota),
Winona LaDuke (Anishinabe), Walter Echo-Hawk (Pawnee), Frank Dayish Jr. (Navajo),
Charlotte Black Elk (Lakota), Douglas George-Kanentiio (Mohawk), Lenny Foster (Dine),
Tonya Gonnella Frichner (Onondaga), Anthony Guy Lopez (Lakota), and Oren Lyons
(Onondaga) during and after their participation in the World Parliament of Religions in Cape
Town, South Africa. The book's title was aptly chosen; this was the first time that First
Nations religious delegates participated in this parliament. This work shares its title with the
2005 award-winning documentary written by Cousineau and produced by Rhine, the author's
late colleague and collaborator. ^BSumming Up: Highly recommended. All levels. M. Cedar
Face Southern Oregon University

Native North American Religious Traditions: Dancing for Life , Jordan Paper

Drawing upon three decades of scholarship and participation in Anishinabe, Cree, Pikuni, and
Tlingit ceremonies, Paper (emer., York Univ.) has attempted a comprehensive introduction to
Native North American religions. The first three chapters sensitize readers to the history of
colonization and repression, differentiated by region and culture area, and the contemporary
revitalization of traditional religions following the decades of Red Power activism and tribal
renewal. The author identifies common features in Native religions as a this-worldly
ritualized connection with numinous "other-than-human beings," and the elaboration of an
oral tradition that includes the charter myths of cosmogony, trickster tales, and culture
heroes who provide the foundation for Native lifeways and the experiential traditions of
"dancing for life." Paper devotes chapters to exploring historic and contemporary iterations
of ceremonies such as the Anishinabe Midewiwin, Navajo Kinaalda, Muskogee Green Corn
Ceremony, Creek Stomp Dance, Kwakiutl potlatch, and the pan-Indian rituals of sweat lodge,
shaking tent, and Thirst or Sun Dance. Paper's insightful analysis and suggestions for
additional reading provide an excellent introduction for students in Native studies and
comparative religion. Summing Up: Highly recommended. All levels/libraries. J. H. Rubin St.
Joseph College

Dream Catchers: How Mainstream America Discovered Native Spirituality, Philip
Jenkins
More aptly subtitled "The Consequences of the Encounter with Native Spiritualities,"
Jenkins's book deftly explicates a history of European beliefs and ideas about Native
spirituality: first, that Native peoples had none; next, that their spiritualities were at best
fallen from primal monotheism and, at worst, demonic; and, finally, that Native spiritualities
were available for idealization and colonization by outsiders. Dealing with volatile issues,
Jenkins (history and religious studies, Penn State Univ.) carefully and concretely examines
the negative and positive consequences of this long history of religious encounter, viewing
adaptation as part of larger patterns of US religious eclecticism while allowing many voices
to speak through his work. The book ends with an intriguing reflection on what constitutes
legitimate religion. Though Jenkins predicts an increase in non-Native participation in Native
ritual, he underestimates the compelling US fixation on blood and descent by which
European and African Americans now espouse their "own" ethnic ur-religions, which just
happen to resemble or mirror Native practices. Nevertheless, this superlative work belongs
on the bookshelf of anyone interested in Native-white relations, history, theology, and
contemporary political and religious issues. ^BSumming Up: Highly recommended. All
levels/libraries. R. A. Bucko Creighton University

American Indian Religious Traditions: An Encyclopedia, Suzanne J. Crawford & Dennis
F. Kelley

In this three-volume (1,271-page) encyclopedia, Crawford (Pacific Lutheran Univ., Tacoma)
and Kelley (Univ. of Missouri, Columbia) focus on the current state of scholarship in the study
of Native American religious traditions. It includes approximately 190 broadly based articles
written by over 100 contributors--both academics and community members, over half of
whom are Native Americans. The emphasis is on Native spiritual traditions as they are
understood by the community. The encyclopedia begins with maps and regional overviews
as well as two articles on the academic study of American Indian religious traditions.
Alphabetically ordered entries follow, ranging in length from one to ten pages, and including
movements, traditions, ceremonies and rituals, art, dance, literature, sacred objects, law
and legislation, biography, etc. Also included are topics such as missionization, termination
and relocation, and New Age appropriation (of Native American traditions). Suggestions for
further reading and research follow each entry. Black-and-white photos appear throughout.
The volumes conclude with an appendix (Indian entities recognized and eligible to receive
services from the US Bureau of Indian Affairs) and an 86-page index that allows readers to
easily find specific information in the more broadly written entries. ^BSumming Up:
Recommended. All levels. M. R. Dittemore Smithsonian Institution Libraries

The Animals Came Dancing: Native American Sacred Ecology and Animal Kinship,
Howard L. Harrod

Finally someone has brought together a wealth of data on the sacred relationship between
Native Americans and the world of plants and animals. This brief and cogent volume traces
Plains Indian traditions through extensive references to a variety of origin myths and rituals
that defined hunter-animal relationships in the 18th and 19th centuries. Particularly
interesting are ways in which animals form kinship bonds with humans. Plains Indians'
sacred ecology conceived of nature as being responsive to human sensibilities through
rituals of renewal. The final chapter is particularly meaningful as it addresses a significant
concern for our contemporary world: What will be the relationship between humans and
animals in the 21st century? Wild animals are hardly accessible to modern peoples. We are
more than ever alienated from them, even in our wilderness regions. Harrod (Vanderbilt
Univ.) distrusts New Age attempts to reconnect with nature through Native American
imagery. Nor is he happy with "wilderness" areas that have become tourist traps. The author
believes that we need to reimagine our kinship with animals in more creative ways. This is a
brilliant and very accessible volume that is destined to become a classic. General readers
and all academic levels. J. J. Preston; SUNY College at Oneonta

VOUDOU

American Voudou: Journey into a Hidden World, Rod Davis

Journalist Davis's account of the varieties of American Voudou is a brilliant tour de force, a
"must read" for students of African American religion. Written in an engaging first-person
style, Davis succeeds in combining the craft of a journalistic travel diary with new and deep
insights about the scholarship of Voudou (an older spelling of Voodoo). This book is one of
few that document the resurgence of African-based religions in the US. Beginning with the
Santeria Voudou practices of the Rev. Lorita Mitchell's St. Lazarus Spiritual Church in New
Orleans, he follows the trail of Hoodoo, the folklore herbal and healing practices of African
Americans stripped of the elaborate African Voudou cosmology and rituals, in rural Louisiana
and Mississippi. The most fascinating chapters concern his stay at Oyotunji village in South
Carolina, a place that has successfully recreated and maintained African customs and Yoruba
ritual practices without the Catholic syncretization common with Santeria. Davis provides a
good overview of the struggle and debate between African American advocates of African
Voudou and the syncretized Christian form supported by Cubans. Photographs; appendixes
("Voudou in the Media" and "The Revolution Denied"); extensive bibliography. Highly
recommended for all levels of readers, from the general public to specialists in the field. L.
H. Mamiya Vassar College

Vodou in Haitian Life and Culture: Invisible Powers , Claudine Michel (Editor)
Patrick Bellegarde-Smith (Editor)

This welcome volume explores the complexities of vodou as a cultural and religious system.
Twelve contributors--Haitians and non-Haitians who represent multiple disciplines--explore
vodou's living presence. Karen McCarthy Brown casts vodou within the wider context of
African American spirituality. Claudine Michel portrays vodou as a mechanism of cultural
survival. Gerdes Fleurant examines the impact of vodou musical forms, while Anna Wexler
finds evidence of vodou cosmology in vodou flags. Elizabeth McAlister details anti-semitism
in Haitian rara festivals. Patrick Bellegarde-Smith convincingly argues that Haitian economic
development rests on acceptance of the Kreyol language and vodou. Richard Brent Turner
traces elements of Haitian religion in New Orleans, while Pierre Minn explicates the complex
nomenclature surrounding Haitian concepts of illness and healing. Carrol F. Coates considers
six Haitian novelists who incorporate vodou into their writings, and Donald Consentino shows
how Haitian metaphysics render the invisible visible. The contributions by Leslie G.
Desmangles and LeGrace Benson are outstanding. Desmangles cogently argues that the
meaning of the cross in Haitian vodou is derived from Dahomean religion, not Christianity.
Benson explores Islamic influences on Afro-Caribbean religions, correctly asserting that
Moslems wielded a disproportionate religious influence, but she less convincingly speculates
about the influences of Breton sailors on vodou. Summing Up: Highly recommended. Most
levels/libraries. S. D. Glazier University of Nebraska--Lincoln

Religion and Ecology

Oxford Handbook of Religion and Ecology

Religion and the Environment
Tanner and Mitchell provide ample examples from Bali to Peru to illustrate limitations,
perceptions, effects, and impacts of people and religion on environments in this wonderful
introduction to multiple religions and their relationship to the environment. The book is organized
by theme and supported by examples from various religions, which are introduced carefully and
briefly in chapter two. One paragraph may be devoted to the inclusiveness of Hinduism while
the next discusses Christianity's exclusivity. Or in a discussion on violence, the examples of
poison-drinking cults in North Carolina are followed by the religion of the Nahua civilization.
Religious behavior has shaped notions of time, space, material culture, and transportation in all
communities. The chapter devoted to socioeconomic activities covers settlement patterns,
agriculture, states with one or multiple religions, and occupations. The relationship between
religion and the life cycle from conception to death is cited as an excellent example of the
interconnections between science, societies, and beliefs. Communal lifestyles, environmental
management, and the treatment of animals are covered in separate chapters. This readable and
well-referenced book is recommended for all levels and collections. W. K. Bauchspies
Pennsylvania State University, University Park Campus

The Ethics of Nature

Deane-Drummond (Univ. College, Chester, UK) canvasses a wide range of issues in
environmental ethics, and in moral psychology generally. Her perspective is Christian, with
Aquinas and virtue ethics occupying the place of honor. Her hope is that a proper
reconsideration of Thomistic ethics and psychology will give environmentalism a firm conceptual
foundation. A great many other writers are cited along the way, and will provide beginners with a
useful introduction to the field of Christian environmentalism. Her own arguments are given
names, but are not developed. For those committed to Thomism, this will not seem to be a
shortcoming; for secular philosophers, it will be. ^BSumming Up: Recommended. General
readers and undergraduates. R. T. Lee Trinity College

Green Sisters: A Spiritual Ecology

After Vatican II, many American Catholic religious sisters abandoned nursing and teaching to
foster concerns for peace and social justice. Today, inspired by the ecological theology
("geology") of Rev. Thomas Berry, some North American "green sisters" have established 50
ecological learning centers, organic farms, and ecospiritual retreat centers that model sound,
sustainable practices. Taylor (Northwestern), schooled in ethnography and American religious
history, describes these establishments as an "intimate outsider" with experience as a
participant-observer at some centers. From personal or electronic interviews, she also explores
understandings of the green sisters who maintain these establishments. Her descriptions, which
range from gardening techniques to spiritual devotion, are interspersed with discussions
concerning the changes in Catholic women's religious life subsequent to Vatican II. This book
discusses how green sisters are "re-in-habiting" sustainable practices as an expression of
ecological conviction and religious devotion. It is an account of the greening religious vows
modeling sustainability, cultivating diversity, conserving the past, and offering sanctuaries of
countercultural reverence for the earth. Although the text is often repetitive, this volume is
indispensable for collections supporting American Catholic history, ecofeminism, and alternative
spiritualities. It should also prove an interesting acquisition for collections concerned with
organic gardening or ecology. Summing Up: Essential. Lower-level undergraduates through
graduate students; general readers.

Ecology and the Jewish Spirit: Where Nature and the Sacred Meet
The essays in this enticing, eclectic collection on a broad range of aspects of the relationship
between people and creation are united by the understanding that the world--God's creation--
reflects the holiness of the divine being as much as do people, who were created in God's
image. How, then, are we to relate to the world? What spiritual gifts can our connection to the
environment offer? Divided into the themes Sacred Place, Sacred Time, and Sacred
Community, these discussions move beyond the expected concern for the Jewish legal
principles that govern how we must treat the environment (though that topic is here, too). More
interesting, we find memoirs of people's quests for spiritual fulfillment in natural--and even
urban--landscapes, guidelines for contemporary ritual celebrations of nature, and discussions of
the special meaning of community for those attuned to the spiritual vibrancy of the world in
which we live. The authors' images of Judaism are decidedly modernist, but the essence of their
spiritual quest and ecological self-consciousness will be of interest to Jews and non-Jews of all
stripes. Recommended especially for general readers; public and academic libraries. A. J.
Avery-Peck; College of the Holy Cross

Torah of the Earth: Exploring 4,000 Years of Ecology in Jewish Thought,

In an address delivered at the Lehrhaus in Frankfurt am Main in 1934, Martin Buber observed
that Judaism teaches neither glorification (heathenism) nor conquest (Christianity) of the
elemental forces, but rather their sanctification and, consequently, their glorification. Not earth
above humanity nor humanity above earth, but rather humanity and the ecosystem in
equilibrium represent the thrust of this two-volume work. Waskow (founder and director, The
Shalom Institute) introduces 4,000 years of Jewish teaching (the Torah in title) in terms of an
intertwined word pair: Adam (generic mankind) and Adamah (earth), which are birthed into
being by YHWH (the timeless and infinite Master of All). In the chapters that follow, parsed into
four major Jewish viewpoints (Biblical, Rabbinic, Zionist, Eco-Judaism), more than 30
contributors prune classical texts (vol. 1), and respond to contemporary challenges of
nationalism and planetary pollution (vo1.2). Richly variegated, informative and imaginative,
though in places repetitive, the chapters convincingly examine the way history, law, liturgy, lore,
and personal free-spirited essays of "new Judaism" all grow from the same rootstock. A well-
crafted anthology of narrative, song, and manifesto sans index (necessary) documenting the
respect for nature in the millennia history of Jewish people. General readers and all academic
levels. Z. Garber; Los Angeles Valley College

The Animals Came Dancing: Native American Sacred Ecology and Animal Kinship

Finally someone has brought together a wealth of data on the sacred relationship between
Native Americans and the world of plants and animals. This brief and cogent volume traces
Plains Indian traditions through extensive references to a variety of origin myths and rituals that
defined hunter-animal relationships in the 18th and 19th centuries. Particularly interesting are
ways in which animals form kinship bonds with humans. Plains Indians' sacred ecology
conceived of nature as being responsive to human sensibilities through rituals of renewal. The
final chapter is particularly meaningful as it addresses a significant concern for our
contemporary world: What will be the relationship between humans and animals in the 21st
century? Wild animals are hardly accessible to modern peoples. We are more than ever
alienated from them, even in our wilderness regions. Harrod (Vanderbilt Univ.) distrusts New
Age attempts to reconnect with nature through Native American imagery. Nor is he happy with
"wilderness" areas that have become tourist traps. The author believes that we need to
reimagine our kinship with animals in more creative ways. This is a brilliant and very accessible
volume that is destined to become a classic. General readers and all academic levels. J. J.
Preston; SUNY College at Oneonta

RELIGION AND ECOLOGY SERIES

Christianity and Ecology: Seeking the Well-Being of Earth and Humans

The articles in this set of 28 papers and responses, part of Harvard's series on world religions
and ecology, discuss how Christianity might, on the one hand, be an ally to the ecological
movement and how, on the other hand, ecological problems are demanding changes in
Christian theology, church organization, and ways of conceiving Christian life. The papers tend
to support a Christianity that seeks solidarity with other peoples and creatures, ways of living
that support ecological sustainability--including limits on consumption by the wealthy, a profound
respect for all creation, and an understanding of how ecological degradation, Third World
exploitation, and gender domination are interconnected. The papers are grouped in five
sections: "Creator, Christ, and Spirit in Ecological Perspective," "Vision, Vocation, and Virtues
for the Earth Community," "The Universal and Particular in Ethics and Spirituality," "Toward
Global Security and Sustainability," and "Christian Praxis for Ecology and Justice." The articles
and responses, in general, are written by some of the most renowned people in the field and are
of superb quality. A necessary resource for all libraries. All levels. ; Colorado College

Confucianism and Ecology: The Interrelation of Heaven, Earth, and Humans

The ethical thought of Confucianism is often understood as being grounded in a thoroughgoing
anthropocentrism, emphasizing as it does the proper way for humans in various institutional
positions and social classes to relate to one another. This anthology provides a corrective to that
view and demonstrates that it is at best a partial picture of Confucian thought. Sixteen papers
are included, and together they give the reader a sense of the conceptual tools that
Confucianism has at its disposal for thinking about ecology and current environmental problems.
Many of the essays draw from historical sources; a few look at the relationship between
environmental problems and contemporary Confucian thinking. The authors do not attempt to
whitewash or paint an unrealistically rosy picture of Confucianism's relation to the environment.
Rather, they represent intellectually honest and realistic attempts to come to terms with
Confucianism's past relationship and to envision ways in which Confucian thought can offer help
in resolving current environmental crises. Most of the papers presuppose no special or
extensive background knowledge of either ecology or Confucianism. The book is appropriate for
undergraduates, graduate students, and faculty working in or interested in these areas. M. A.
Michael; Austin Peay State University
Hinduism and Ecology: The Intersection of Earth, Sky, and Water

This book opens with the startling statement that India boasts the world's largest environmental
movement, involving over 950 nongovernmental organizations. Collected here are conference
papers by 22 qualified scholars--some Indians in India, some Indians living abroad, some
Westerners familiar with India--on the relationship of religion to the ecological crisis in India. The
central issue is whether the mores and tenets of Hinduism are compatible with the protection of
the environment. The writers examine epics and sacred texts, arts and rituals, and the thought
of Gandhi for what they show about the human use of nature in India. The book is admirably
summed up in one table classifying variations in thought and attitudes, and in another table of
relevant statistics. The quality of writing and scholarship is high. The writers are aware of
parallels with the ecological crisis in the West; thus the book should be valuable to those
interested in the global crisis. These lucid explanations of Indian thought and customs will help
the Westerner to better understand India. W. C. Buchanan; formerly, Grand Valley State
University

Islam and ecology: a bestowed trust

Indigenous Traditions and Ecology: The Interbeing of Cosmology and Community

Judaism and Ecology: Created World and Revealed Word

Jainism and Ecology: Nonviolence in the Web of Life

Daoism and Ecology: Ways within a Cosmic Landscape