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When God Was a Bird

Spiritual Exploration Group

The Spiritual Exploration Group will meet on the 2nd Thursday of the month from 5:00-6:30pm. The next meeting is on January 14th, and the book we will be discussing is When God Was a Bird: Christianity, Animism, and the Re-Enchantment of the World (Groundworks: Ecological Issues in Philosophy and Theology) by Mark I. Wallace.

If you would like to be part of this group, contact the office manager to get on the email list. All are welcome!

When God Was a Bird: Christianity, Animism, and the Re-Enchantment of the World

In a time of rapid climate change and species extinction, what role have the world’s religions played in ameliorating—or causing—the crisis we now face? One can point to Christianity’s otherworldly theologies, which privilege our spiritual aspirations over our natural origins, as bearing a disproportionate burden for creating humankind’s exploitative attitudes toward nature.

And yet, buried deep within the Christian tradition are startling portrayals of God as the beaked and feathered Holy Spirit—the “animal God” of historic Christian witness. Through biblical readings, historical theology, continental philosophy, and personal stories of sacred nature, this book recovers the Christian God as a creaturely, avian being promiscuously incarnated within all things.

This beautifully and accessibly written book shows that “Christian animism” is not a contradiction in terms, but Christianity’s natural habitat. Challenging traditional Christianity’s self-definition as an otherworldly religion, Wallace paves the way for a new Earth-loving spirituality grounded in the ancient image of an animal God who signals the presence of spirit in everything, human and more-than-human alike.

Mark I. Wallace is a Professor of Religion and Environmental Studies at Swarthmore College and core faculty for the U.S. State Department’s Institutes on Religious Pluralism at Temple University.