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My Life as a Pantheist
Reviewed by The Editors on Dec. 1, 2008
Pantheism literally means “God is all.” Long sympathetic to this notion and facing crises of faith and existential angst, Russell decided to take a year off and immerse herself in both the philosophical roots of pantheistic thought and a lived experience of it in the high-desert beauty of New Mexico. The result is an artfully written tapestry of theory and practice. Russell’s quest to understand the theory starts with the Greeks and gradually unfolds, both gracefully and fitfully, through the work of such seminal thinkers as Spinoza, Whitman, and D. H. Lawrence. Russell’s daily practice included long walks on the mesa, deep reflection under star-filled skies, and various adventures as an amateur naturalist for a local environmental research center. As bucolic as it sounds, Russell’s journey was not without struggle, as she wrestled with the challenges of reconciling the ideal with the real. In the end, she returns to where she has always been—home—but with a renewed spirit of appreciation.