Book Review: Seeking the Mystery

Christine Hoff Kraemer

Seeking the Mystery: An Introduction to Pagan Theologies

Englewood, CO: Patheos Press, 2012.

Professor Kraemer has provided something we have needed for some time – a clear introduction to Pagan theology for both the public and academic reader. The book provides a good overview of how pagans think of Deity, ethical systems, and many other issues. She points out the theological and ethical disarray of most pagan groups, and attempts to remedy this by offering not only a theological overview but also a theological method. This is important for pagans who likely would not encounter theological instruction otherwise as it is usually offered only by traditional mainline churches.

I also consider this an excellent textbook for an introduction to paganism class because it is a good theological survey, and includes activities, reading lists, and a glossary. My hope is this book will help to give its readers the grounding needed to begin to do pagan theology, a task that is greatly needed if our spiritual tradition is to continue and we are to present ourselves to others in a compelling and comprehensible way. If we are unable to define ourselves clearly to others we run the risk of appearing undeveloped and frivolous, and not being taken seriously by outsiders. If we are unable to define ourselves clearly to ourselves we run the risk of lacking sufficient substance to continue as a viable religion.

Professor Kraemer’s best point is that paganism is mainly defined by practice rather than belief. It is easier for pagans to share a celebration than to share doctrine, but this is a great strength of paganism as it can prevent dogmatic struggles. The only area I disagree with is the chapter on ethics, and you can see my views on ethics by looking through my archived posts. The only real lack is an index, which is not a concern if you read the book electronically.

My hat is off to Professor Kraemer for imposing order on this often vague and diffuse area of thought.

 

Copyright © 2015 Teresa Chupp.  All rights reserved.

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