Animals in Religion explores the role and presence of animals within a wide range of religious traditions, from ensouled narratives within oral tradition to religious texts, myths and accompanying legends. Some of the material may have a familiar ring, such as the stories of St Francis of Assisi and Ganesha, but other, unusual facts also make an appearance.
This book proposes a deeper respect for our four-legged, ﬁnned and feathered brethren. From the principle of ahimsa (non-violence) in Jainism, Buddhism and Hinduism, to the laws which relate to tza’ar ba’alei chayim (avoiding the suffering/pain of living creatures) in Judaism, we encounter the interdependence of life. The Jainist notion of ‘reverence for life’, the pronouncement in Genesis that ‘it was good’ and the Islamic belief that all species are Muslim allow us to come to a realization, or a deeper appreciation, that non-human animals have value in our religious traditions, as well as in our hearts and homes. The book examines animals not only in all the major monotheistic religions but in the beliefs of the Egyptian, Mesoamerican and Indigenous peoples of North America and Australasia as well as of the Vikings and Druids.
‘Barbara Allen explores the role of animals within a wide range of religious traditions. In this highly recommended addition to animal studies publications, Barbara explores countless stories and myths passed down orally and in many religious texts and offers a fascinating history of the ways animals have figured in our spiritual lives, whether they have Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Jain, Hindu or Buddhist roots. Barbara also looks at religions in China, Japan, Celtic, Viking and Ancient Egypt, as well as First People’s religious religions . . . She tells story after story that emphasise the same message: all species are spiritually connected.’ – Minding Animals Bulletin
‘Barbara Allen includes all major religions, the beiefs of Indigenous peoples and those of ancient times discussing the art, diets and practices of each. Recognising the importance of the oral tradition, she tells the most fascinating legends and stories in a highly colourful way, which alone would make another book.’ – Yorkshire Gazette and Herald
The author offers a deeper respect for our four-legged, finned and feathered brethren as she focuses on the interdependence of life and the appreciation that “nonhuman animals” have value in our religious traditions, as well as in our hearts and homes. The book examines animals not only in all the major monotheistic religions, but also in the beliefs of the Egyptian, Mesoamerican and Indigenous people of North America and Australasia as well as the Vikings and Druids.’ – Methodist Recorder
‘This book is timely; in the midst of the growing global concern around climate change and the future of our world as we know and understand it, Barbara has brought a gift, an invitation to add a fresh layer to our discussions on understanding our world. The particular focus of the book is the religious dimensions that the non human created world brings to the understanding and life of humans . . . People from all faith traditions and none, will find this work extremely helpful.’ – Reverend Ian Smith, Executive Officer Victorian Council of Churches
‘Allen highlights the mysterious alterity of nonhuman animals (such that they should not be reduced to things) and in turn leads the to reader to discover, through a myriad of religious voices, these mysterious creatures as spiritual brethren.’ – Ryan Patrick McLaughlin, Siena College, New York
Barbara Allen is a minister in the Uniting Church in Australia. Her previous publications are I Was There (2009) and Pigeon (Reaktion, 2009).