Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Standing in the Light

I have just finished Sharman Apt Russell's book, Standing in the Light: My Life as a Pantheist, which I found in our public library's new book section. The book combines information about the history of pantheism and some of its major figures from the early Greeks on, with musings about nature (especially bird watching) in the Gila Valley in New Mexico, where the author and her husband have homesteaded for many years, and her experiences with a Silver City, NM Quaker circle she attends intermittently. The result is an eclectic blend of interesting information presented in a meandering style more than slightly akin to the Gila River, which also winds its way through the book.

I found this image of the Gila River on the WikiMedia Commons website. It was taken by Joe Burgess and has been released into the public domain.

Quite a bit of information about present day Quakers is included, along with bits of Quaker history. I was intrigued to learn that pantheists find themselves welcome and at home in Quaker Meetings, some of which consist of an hour of sitting silently in a circle waiting to hear the voice of God within. Russell explains that this is a traditional Quaker format, referred to as "unprogrammed." "Programmed" Quaker services, which more nearly resemble other Christian church services, were a 19th century development. I wrote a passage of Russell's description about Quaker Meetings in my journal:

Silence is another defining tradition. We know the divine best through personal, immediate experience, and that divinity, that Light, is here right now, all around us. Silence is how we listen for the Light. In a moment of listening, we will hear a small, inner voice, the voice of God within. We will know what we have always suspected: Eternal life is under the words. (p. 146)

The book concludes with a section of selected notes and references, which outlines much of the reading sources Russell used while writing the book. This serves as a handy source for additional reading. An index is also provided.

Both nature lovers and spiritual explorers will find much to appreciate in this book.


waxwing said...

Thank you for the book link -- it sounds interesting. I've long considered myself a pantheist.

Fiske said...


Thanks for visiting! I hope you like the book.

A group of Cedar Waxwings visits a field near our home each winter. I haven't seen them yet this year and am hoping to see them later today when my wife and I go for a walk.

Based on your interest in birds, you might enjoy Diana Sudyka's tiny avery blog:

Diana is a Chicago area artist who also works as a preparator for the ornithology department at Chicago's Field Museum. She does wonderful water color paintings of all sorts of birds.


waxwing said...

We get some cedarwaxwings each year -- not this year yet though... although I think I may have heard them a few weeks ago.

Thank you for the link to the Tiny Aviary. Lovely artwork!

Fiske said...


I found your Clutch Cargo Lips blog and added it to my Favorite Blogs and Web Sites list. :-)

Elly and I saw some Cedar Waxwings in early October on our first visit to an absolutely fabu state park here in Missouri -- ArrowRock. We have visited many of the Missouri state parks and it is one of the nicest.

We're planning an early May trip to Roaring River state park in southern Missouri. It is supposed to be terrific for the spring warbler migration.

Diana's paintings are wonderful. She does commissions, too. One day I think I'll commission a painting. The only problem will be to decide what bird...