Synopses & Reviews
Everything is connected, and the web is holy.” So wrote Marcus Aurelius, the starting point of Sharman Apt Russells wise and haunting new memoir about her life as a pantheist. Perhaps no other religious philosophy is as simple and inclusive as pantheism. What is, right now, is divine; there is no god apart from the universe itself. In Standing in the Light, Russell explores the history of this tradition from the Stoic philosophers to the Transcendentalists while reflecting on her own life during a year spent in the mountains and desert of southwestern New Mexico. A season of banding birds, the migration of sandhill cranes, the panicked charge of a young javelina-nature provides the inspiration for meditations on subjects ranging from Buddhist thought to the death of her father, from the Quaker tradition to the sadness of children leaving home, from global warming to the ineffable loneliness of human experience. With a humane heart, an inquisitive mind, and luminescent prose, Sharman Apt Russell invites skeptics, scientists, and seekers everywhere to join her in her exploration of the soul of pantheism.
"Pantheism 'is the belief that the universe... is an interconnected whole that we can rightly consider sacred.' A Quaker who has studied many philosophies and religions (she was once kicked out of an Indian ashram), Russell has lived for nearly three decades in southwestern New Mexico, writing (Hunger; An Obsession with Butterflies), teaching, banding birds, searching for meaning and hoping to see a sandhill crane dance. A 'scientific pantheist,' she claims not to be 'built for mysticism,' though her description of 'walking through the Mind and Body of God' might prove otherwise. The uniqueness of this book, however, lies less in its lyrical passages which sometimes evoke the early Annie Dillard than in its concise and readable summaries of pantheistic thought, especially that of Marcus Aurelius, Giordano Bruno, Baruch Spinoza and Walt Whitman. Russell's faith is all-embracing but unsentimental. 'Pantheism is weak on suffering,' she admits, but 'what is the alternative? We are braided into pain and joy, darkness and light. We are braided into nature, reflecting the sky.' (July)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
In a glorious new memoir, a prize-winning natural science writer meditates on the history and meaning of pantheism
About the Author
Sharman Apt Russell is the author of several books, including Hunger and Songs of the Fluteplayer, which won the Mountains and Plains Booksellers Award. She has written for publications including Discover and Nature Conservancy, and currently contributes to OnEarth, the magazine for the National Resource Defense Council. Russell teaches creative writing at Western New Mexico University and at Antioch University in Los Angeles, California. She lives in Silver City, New Mexico.