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Living With Honour: A Pagan Ethics by Emma…

Living With Honour: A Pagan Ethics

by Emma Restall Orr

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I am a Buddhist, just dipping my toes a bit into the Pagan waters. The challenge of ecological ethics is huge. I confess, I rather despair at any sort of mass transformation of consciousness: our modern industrial culture just seems too stuck in its ways. Small scale action, at the individual, family, and community level, this seems like the only viable path. This sows the seeds for future transformation... the present system will pass. We need to be building a sane next system now. Our actions now can have huge impact: it might just take a few hundred years for the seeds we plant to sprout, develop, and blossom.

Orr provides a nice survey of modern paganism. She distinguishes her own special brand as *paganism, which is just one flavor of the general category of paganism. She also situates her ideas in relation to mainstream western philosophers across the centuries, e.g. Schopenhauer and Midgley. It's a tricky balance, trying to be serious enough to address the well read thinker, but also to keep it grounded and motivated enough in direct experience to appeal to the more common less academically inclined reader. The danger is that one can frustrate everyone. Certainly Orr is walking a tightrope here. For me the balance was OK.

My biggest frustration was probably that Buddhist, or non-Western, thinkers were not discussed. It's like a vegetarian cookbook that omits tofu. OK, lots of folks object to soy. But really, shouldn't one at least discuss it?

A problem I have with paganism and *paganism is the whole notion of, hmmm, maybe blood or maybe heritage. Most of my ancestry is northern European. On the other hand, my maternal grandparents participated in the Los Angeles Hindu scene of the 1930s. We have always been global. This idea that ecological consciousness should be tied to genetic ancestry... I think Orr avoids the term "race", but really it is a serious problem that deserves addressing. There is an awful lot of xenophobic politics springing up. It's not an easy subject, but it seems to me to be vital to address. It is surely one of the key ethical issues of our time. ( )
1 vote kukulaj | Aug 16, 2015 |
Quite heavy going, it's not an easy read by any means but very stimulating and a much-needed contribution to pagan thought. ( )
  mlfhlibrarian | Aug 7, 2008 |
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This book I offer to my gods,
to their wild winds and gentle breezes,
thick mud and sweet soil,
rose petal and thorns,
endless darkness and sparkling light
in thanks
for their company upon the journey and for each step along the way.
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When I was six years old, I watched a man die.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 184694094X, Paperback)

Living With Honour is a provocative and uncompromising exploration of how Paganism can provide the philosophical guidance to live honorably in a twenty-first Western society. Part One explores the history of Paganism, its undercurrents of anarchy, heresy, environmentalism and animism, finding its place within the history of Western philosophy. Part Two addresses key moral issues from that animistic perspective, beginning with the foundation of human relationships and attitudes towards the Other. It book explores how we value life, and firstly human life, looking at dying, suicide and euthanasia, birth, abortion and IVF. It then examines the human abuse of nonhuman animals, discussing sentience, personhood and inherent value. Finally, it focuses on current global crises, exploring need as opposed to desire.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:17:08 -0400)

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