I do enjoy probing around on the internet for books, music and information. Late in July I was scrolling through my Facebook feed and came across a post from Christine Hoff Kraemer, the editor of the Pagan Channel on Patheos.com. In the post she was announcing a book giveaway contest for her latest release, Seeking the Mystery: An Introduction to Pagan Theologies. Being the curious reader that I am, I submitted my name for the drawing. I didn’t win, but Ms Kraemer decided to send me a copy of the book anyway. For that I am thankful.
It would have been great to have had this book already in my library in January of this year when KaliSara and I did our show on Theisms for the Pagan-Musings Podcast. Chapter one of the book gives brief but easily understood definitions of many of the theisms that apply to the various Pagan belief systems out there. Not an exhaustive listing, by any stretch, but a decent starting point. With a great listing of reference materials at the end of the chapter, a student of theology, Pagan or otherwise, has months of reading to do.
Kraemer is not just a writer of books and a blog editor, she is an instructor of Theology and Religious history at Cherry Hill Seminary. This book reads like a primer for one of her classes. Which is just how it should be read. As an introduction, she does not set out to teach you everything there is to know about Pagan theologies. Instead she helps you get acquainted with many ideas related to theology and introduces you to some modes of thought that might not have been apparent in your own studies.
I was visiting with my brother about the book recently and was trying to describe how the book could be used by Pagans and non-Pagans alike. The best thing I could think of was to pull our Kerr Cuhulain’s Pagan Religions: A Handbook for Diversity Training (the new title for the expanded The Law enforcement Guide to Wicca). Unlike Cuhulain, Kraemer addresses the topics from the view point of an educator. Either way, both books are useful for Pagans and non-Pagans.
Not only does the book address the topics of theisms, spirituality and Pagan religion in general. Kraemer embarks on how Pagans of various flavors look at the issues of sex, sexuality, death, marriage, and many other issues that have become hot button topics for the modern Pagan world. Between the introduction and the final summary, Kraemer takes you through a glimpse into Pagan theologies:
Chapter One covers theisms, feminist theology and related topics.
Chapter Two covers myth, tradition, authenticity and history.
Chapter Three address knowledge, devotion, and experience.
Chapter Four talks about life, death, sex, and other related hot button topics.
Chapter Five delves into the topics of ethics and justice, virtues and values.
I think Kraemer’s book is going to wind up on my suggested reading list along with Margot Adler, Starhawk, Cuhulain, and many others who have tried to break the terminology of Pagan theology down into concepts that just about everyone can understand.