For Christmas, Wife brought me a book from my top 10 most wanted list called Dealing With Deities: Practical Polytheistic Theology.
I love Wife.
This book is fantastic for anyone who actually wants to think about their religion/faith. It’s written by Raven Kaldera (find out more about him at http://www.ravenkaldera.org/), published by Asphodel Press and a new copy will cost something in the region of $14:00/£9:75 for a paperback, or $5:00/£3:50 for a download. You can buy yourself a copy at http://www.asphodelpress.com/specialty.html (just keep scrolling down – it’s not too far).
This book is organized into several small chapters that stick closely to their specific subject, meaning it’s handy for reference and also that you can leave yourself time between each chapter to think it through without the next chapter leaving you lost. The word ‘theology’ in the title made me worried that I may not be able to understand a single word, but actually it was all written very clearly and I had no problems with it whatsoever. It is theology, but you don’t need a degree in comparative religion to understand it. Don’t skip the introduction – it asks some interesting and worthwhile questions, and also stresses the point that, whilst these are the opinions of the author and others who contributed to this book, you’re not obliged to agree. The point of theology is not to agree, after all; it’s to think. Even if you argue with everything in this book, it will at least have made you think about why you disagree, and what it is that you believe instead.
I can’t go through the book chapter by chapter – not unless you want a very long book review, anyway! My feedback on book reviews has been to keep it short ‘n’ sweet, so here goes. Dealing With Deities covers a really wide range of subjects relevant to polytheistic theology. The first chapter, Polytheism And Her Sisters: Defining Belief covers the meaning of all those words I see in clever people’s blogs and sort of understand but don’t know their exact meaning – henotheism, pantheism, panentheism, all that. I know we all wanna avoid those dreaded labels, but it’s really useful to have clear definitions of these different ideas. The rest of the book is more open to argument and re-interpretation- the nature of Deities (They’re like stalactites, apparently), possibilities for what happens after we die and how that’s all decided, religious divination, human consent, the possibility of being horrifically smited by angry Deities, mythic time, how all these theories actually look in a real person’s actual life…I could go on. I loved every last page – yes, even the blank pages at the end. They’re all fantastic. One great thing is that it’s not written specifically for polytheists – it deals with ideas from monotheism, and tries to help people with very different understandings of the Divine to get a grasp on polytheistic ideas. I’m hoping to persuade Parents to read this book.
This book is a must-read for any polytheist who is serious about about their faith, and I think it would be a great read for anyone at all with an interest in theology. I really hope to see more books like this being published in the future – mostly because they will help polytheists and other pagans to come to a greater understanding and appreciation of our traditions, but also in the hope that such publications will convince people from outside our traditions to take us seriously as a group of faiths.