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do, why do we continue living this way? Whydon’tweputdownourportfolios,our latest book project, our need to get little Sammy into Princeton, and make all this stop? If we did we would find that we are not alone. As the last part of this critically important book makes clear, a number of people—housewives and doctors, courageous public servants and ordinary citizens , innovative chemists turning chemistry (of all things) green, and employeesofunderfundedlittleNGOstracing thetoxictrail—havebeenfightingthisgood fight for some time now. The stories of these likely and unlikely heroes can give us some pride in the human spirit and some inspirationaboutwhatweshouldbedoing ourselves. So even if it hurts to read this book, read it anyway. Face the truth, take the example of the courageous souls who areresisting,andact.■ Roger S. Gottlieb is a professor of philosophy at WorcesterPolytechnicInstitute.Hisrecentbooks include A Greener Faith: Religious EnvironmentalismandourPlanet ’sFutureandTheOxfordHandbookofReligionandEcology . SPIRITUAL DEMOCRACY BEYONDCONSCIOUSNESS ANDCULTURE THEPARTICIPATORYTURN:SPIRITUALITY, MYSTICISM,RELIGIOUSSTUDIES EditedbyJorgeN.Ferrer andJacobH.Sherman StateUniversityofNewYorkPress,2008 Review by Ann Gleig and Nicholas G. Boeving T hequestionofwhetheror not we can preserve the ontological integrity of religion, spirituality, and mysticism without sacrificing the integrity of modern critical scholarship lies at the heart of The Participatory Turn. This exciting new collection brings together several of the most robust currents in the field of Religious Studies to pose some of the most pressing and provocative questions asked within and of the discipline. Can we, in our contemporary pluralist climate , accommodate not only different religious claims but also other forms of competing contemporary discourse? Can we be religious without being naive, as well as critical without being reductive ? Can we find a middle ground between the absolute foundations of traditional religion and the dizzying groundlessness of a relativistic postmodernity ? Can we, in other words, integrate our premodern, modern, and now postmodern worlds? Editors Jorge N. Ferrer and Jacob H. Sherman make a strong case we can. Their basic project is the integration of religious experience and practice with modern critical thinking and postmodern epistemological insights about the constructed nature of human knowledge. What emerges from this “both/and” endeavor is “a pluralistic vision of spirituality that accepts the formative role of contextual and linguistic factors in religious phenomena, while simultaneously recognizing the importance, and at times even centrality, of nonlinguistic variables (e.g., somatic, imaginal, energetic ,contemplative,andsoon)inshaping religious experiences and meanings, and affirming the ontological value and creative impact of spiritual worlds and realities .” The participatory turn, therefore, is simultaneously methodology and ontology . As a dialectical methodology, it integrates the linguistic latticework that postmodernism has shown us underlies and creates all of human experience with the profound ontological disclosures of religious phenomena. This integration allows for recognition of how culture and language shape religious phenomena withoutreducingbothspiritualexperience and the real ontological worlds it reveals to their cultural components. As a participatory ontology, it approaches religious phenomena as co-created 64 T I K K U N W W W. T I K K U N . O R G M AY / J U N E 2 0 0 9 CULTURE typically suppressed part of the mind, about toxics, and environmental causes of cancer and endocrine disrupters, and that pesticides in foods aren’t very healthy. Whathavewebeendoingwiththatknowledge ? But we are all so busy, and the powersthat -be seem so, well, powerful. And probablytheEPAortheSierraCluborsomeone elsewilltakecareofit.Afterall,wehaveour careers, marriages, divorces, and spiritual livestothinkof.Andifweareparents,there are the things that just can’t wait: PTA meetings, tutoring in math, getting our children into top private schools, making sure the computer is up-to-date, finding a goodtherapist. And so it goes. This book is not only a clearly written, well reasoned, carefully researched ,anddevastatingcritiqueofmodern industrial practices and their protectors in government, it is also a direct challenge to the moral and spiritual value ofourentirewayoflife.Inachapterappropriately entitled “Values,” the authors explore the question of what really is important to us, and why our children’s health seems so low on the list. And then along with the personal guilt and shame, there arises a simple, appalling question: who are we to tell anyone what is right and wrong anymore? The writers for Tikkun (certainly including myself), our nation’s priests and rabbis and philosophers and political theorists, all...


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