For one of my classes this semester, I had to create an annotated bibliography on a topic of my choice. In other words, I had to create a guide to sources for someone interested in learning more about a certain topic. I chose the topic of Pantheism, and am happy to say that this assignment was a great way for me to create my own "To Read List." I'm posting it here for anyone who may be interested (some of the resources listed here may also be appealing to astronomy geeks, atheists, agnostics, those interested in nature based spirituality, or anyone wanting to know more about these topics). Some of the resources listed are websites, instead of books. I look forward to reading a lot of these!
Aurelius, Marcus (1964). Mediations. (M. Staniforth, Trans.). New York, NY: The Penguin Group.
These insightful musings of the philosopher emperor Marcus Aurelius are a source of great discussion among pantheists. This is because the text concerns itself so much with how to live a life in harmony with nature and humanity. Stoic philosophy, of which Marcus Aurelius writes abundantly, is also a secular way with which pantheists deal with real world problems. This edition contains an authoritative translation by Maxwell Staniforth.
Barrow, John D. (2008). New Theories of Everything. New York, NY: Oxford University Press, USA.
A book with engaging philosophical naturalism that delves into the topics of cosmology, physics, and the laws of nature. The author, who is an astronomy professor, guides the reader through the latest developments in theoretical physics.
Boswell, John. (2009). The Symphony of Science. http://www.symphonyofscience.com
“The Symphony of Science is a musical project by John Boswell designed to deliver scientific knowledge and philosophy in musical form.” As of November 29, 2009, three videos have been created and uploaded by Jon Boswell. These three videos entitled “A Glorious Dawn,” “We Are All Connected,” and “Our Place in the Cosmos.” All three videos feature Carl Sagan, as well as other prominent scientists and commentators (Stephen Hawking, Neil deGrasse Tyson, etc.). The artist uses synthesizers to highlight profound ideas in science, physics, and current knowledge of the natural world. These videos have been a favorite to many pantheist forums and websites in recent months.
Goodenough, Ursula. (2000). The Sacred Depths of Nature. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.
This book is a good resource for those considering religious naturalism. Ursula Goodenough is a molecular scientist who recognizes the spirituality inherent in nature. This book bridges the gap between religion and science making them wholly compatible with each other. It touches the subjects of sexuality, death, evolution and emotions. This book is filled with reflections of reverence for nature.
Harrison, Paul. (2004). Elements of pantheism. Llumina Pr.
This book covers the core beliefs of pantheism. It illustrates pantheistic belief systems throughout history to the present, and makes note of philosophers and scientists alike who could be labeled as pantheist. It also contains information on Pantheist ceremony and mediation, as well as current controversies within the study and belief of pantheism.
Hartshorne, Charles, & Reese, William L. (2000). Philosophers Speak of God. Amherst, NY: Humanity Books.
This is a scholarly study of the history of pantheism and panentheism (a belief that nature is a part of but not the whole of God). It contains many philosophical writings explaining the nature of religious philosophy and the love of knowledge. These philosophical writings also critique many theological conceptions of deity.
On Truth and Reality. (2009). On Truth and Reality: Philosophy Physics Metaphysics of Space, Wave Structure Matter. http://www.spaceandmotion.com/
This website, though not explicitly pantheistic, contains many pantheistic beliefs, philosophies, and overall exhibits a wonder in the natural world. Links to articles about ancient philosophy, evolution, and more all offer the reader insights into the natural world and why it is so amazing and how we are all connected.
Russell, Sharman. (2009). Standing in the light: My Life as a Pantheist. New York, NY: PublicAffairs.
This book is Russell’s memoir. Writing about life following a pantheistic belief system, the author touches on many aspects of pantheism, and provides many references and insightful literature for further reading. The book details the nature of the cosmos and the interconnectedness of everything.
Sagan, Carl. (1980). Cosmos. New York, NY: The Random House Publishing Group.
A quotable favorite for pantheists, this book details the cosmos as we know it to be. Sagan exhibits awe and wonder as he describes the nature of the solar system, astrophysics, the earth, its beginnings, and our position in the cosmos. He writes in a way that is understandable for those who do not have a background in science. This book was also a TV series in the early 80s.
Sagan, Carl. (2006). The Varieties of Scientific Experience: a Personal View of the Search for God. New York, NY: The Penguin Press.
This posthumous publication was based on Carl Sagan’s 1985 Giffon Lectures in Scotland. It examines the theistic ideas in the context of science and provides reasons behind his beliefs concerning deity. With beautiful pictures and an engaging text concerning topics from the origins of the cosmos, to the likelihood of life on other planets, Sagan writes of science as a new way of “informed worship.”
Suzuki, D. (2002). The Sacred Balance: Rediscovering Our Place in Nature. Seattle, WA: The Mountaineers.
This book explains and describes ways readers can live more fulfilling lives by being in tune with the natural world. It provides many call to actions, which the reader can take to start living a more ecologically conscious way of life.
World Pantheism. (2009). PANTHEISM: The World Pantheist Movement. http://www.pantheism.net/
This website is a great source for pantheists or those interested in learning more about pantheism. It provides many links, resources, networks, and recommended readings for a variety of topics within pantheistic thought. This is truly a great online resource.
I saw this youtube video today with Scientology Church spokesman Tommy Davis. This is taken from an interview on ABC News Nightline last month. He walks off the set when the interviewer persists in asking him about Lord Xenu. Anyways, I couldn't help but think as I watched it, that a Mormon, put in the same setting and being asked specific questions about the endowment ceremony would react the same way. Note the indignation and offense. Seriously, as you watch it, just replace the questions with deep mormon doctrine found in the temple, and pretend this guy was a member of the LDS church. Couldn't you foresee similar reactions? (Although I admit, Church PR would probably react better than this guy did, however, I am thinking of just a regular active member reacting to these questions.)
It's easy for people to poke fun at Scientology because its a brand new religion (comparatively speaking), but isn't it plain to see the convenience in not being able to talk about certain things because "it's against my religion" or "too sacred to talk about"?
I remember one time in Sunday school when I was 14 years old, we were talking about the temple in our Mia Maid Class. The topic that we get a new name in the temple was brought up by one of us girls. We all became excited as we talked about it when suddenly my Young Women's teacher burst out hysterically, "It's the Temple! We don't talk about the temple!" She proceeded to cry for the next few minutes while the rest of us sat their in stunned silence. I remember as we were finally leaving class, and after my teacher had recuperated, she said, "Don't worry. There is no need to be scared of the Temple." She had seen the fear in our eyes.
This leads me to note another parallel in Mormonism and Scientology. Not all members are privy to the special information given to those who have progressed further in the religion, and when they do progress and have paid what they need to or "are ready," they are told not to talk to other members about what they have learned. If the topic comes up, they must say "it's too sacred" or too "taken out of context" or "offensive" to talk about. It's almost like they know that people are going to think, "wow, that's nuts." What a great way to nip that response in the bud.
Pretty convenient actually.
Today we had Thanksgiving at my grandmother's (I know a day late). And I feel I got to share my new found (embryonic) beliefs with my family, although I don't think they even picked up on it. My uncle was talking about a new Black Eyed Peas song called "One Tribe" and started commenting how he liked it because it encouraged everyone to see that there is no "other" and that race is just something we create to divide ourselves. I took the opportunity to say, that I agreed and took it a step further to say we are all "part of one whole. There is only one universe and we are all connected." Of course my husband leaned over to me and mentioned the word "pantheism." I think he was the only one who picked up on what I was actually saying. Everyone else though politely agreed. I'm pretty sure they didn't really understand my perspective however, as all my extended family still thinks I'm an active Mormon. I'm sure that when I said the word "we" they didn't realize I meant everything, as in people, animals, rocks, trees, etc.
By the way, I don't mind letting them think I am a TBM for now, because as long as they don't know, I feel what I say will have more of an impact then when they do find out. But I know it's only a matter of time before my parents spill the beans.
Go placidly amid the noise and the haste,
and remember what peace there may be in silence.
As far as possible, without surrender,
be on good terms with all persons.
Speak your truth quietly and clearly;
and listen to others,
even to the dull and the ignorant;
they too have their story.
Avoid loud and aggressive persons;
they are vexatious to the spirit.
If you compare yourself with others,
you may become vain or bitter,
for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.
Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.
Keep interested in your own career, however humble;
it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.
Exercise caution in your business affairs,
for the world is full of trickery.
But let this not blind you to what virtue there is;
many persons strive for high ideals,
and everywhere life is full of heroism.
Be yourself. Especially do not feign affection.
Neither be cynical about love,
for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment,
it is as perennial as the grass.
Take kindly the counsel of the years,
gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune.
But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings.
Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.
Beyond a wholesome discipline,
be gentle with yourself.
You are a child of the universe
no less than the trees and the stars;
you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you,
no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.
Therefore be at peace with God,
whatever you conceive Him to be.
And whatever your labors and aspirations,
in the noisy confusion of life,
keep peace in your soul.
With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams,
it is still a beautiful world.
Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.
I love the writings of Carl Sagan, Epictetus, and Marcus Aurelius, and occasionally linger in metaphysical daydreams. My current beliefs are very similar if not equivalent to pantheism. However, at this point, I can't say anything for certain. I grew up 'knowing' that the LDS church was 'true,' and because of this, I never really asked meaningful questions about reality, life, or ethics until recently. In some ways, although I don't regret being raised in Mormonism, I feel stunted because I never explored the nature of 'spirituality' beyond the confines of Mormon doctrine.
Although I may occasionally write about Mormonism (seeing as the bulk of my experience with religion was with the LDS church), I hope readers will understand that these are my personal experiences, and are not meant for TBMs who may be uncomfortable with asking tough questions about their faith.