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  The Ishmael Community: Questions and Answers

The Question (ID Number 400)...

    I consider myself an animist, but whenever I tell people this they seem confused. When I try to explain animism to them they often equate it with paganism. How can I articulate my beliefs in an effective manner?

    ...and the response:

    It's easy to distinguish animism from paganism. Paganism is a farmer's
    religion ("pagan" means "of the country"). There were no farmers here until
    about ten thousand years ago. Before that, the religion of humanity was
    animism (and it still is among tribal peoples). It's not, in fact, a
    religion in the way most people think of religion. It's based on no
    "religious" belief. Rather, it embodies a worldview: the world is a sacred
    place, and humans belong in that sacred place. The religions of our culture
    (the "major" religions) perceive the world to be a place of illusion and
    evil--not a sacred place, but rather a place to to be escaped from in order
    to reach some "better" place that is our true home. At the same time, the
    religions of our culture perceive humans to be fundamentally flawed, so
    that if the world were a sacred place, humans wouldn't belong in it. In the
    view of our culture's religions, humans are miserable creatures living in a
    miserable place. When people ask me to explain animism, I tell them that if
    they're really interested, they should read The Story Of B. I wrote that
    book to explain animism.


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