A Pagan-Flavored Study of Religion

Graham Harvey, one of founders of contemporary Pagan studies, has a new book out, Food, Sex and Strangers, which “offers alternative ways of thinking about what religion involves and how we might better understand it. Drawing on studies of contemporary religions, especially among indigenous peoples, the book argues that religion serves to maintain and enhance human relationships in and with the larger-than-human world. Fundamentally, religion can be better understood through the ways we negotiate our lives than in affirmations of belief – and it is best seen when people engage in intimate acts with themselves and others.”

Like Michael York’s definition of Paganism that I offered earlier, Harvey’s perspective on religion is heavy on relationship. Not surprising for someone who has also helped to define “the New Animism.”

Doug Ezzy, an Australian scholar of Paganism, writes in his cover blurb, “Harvey’s ideas about religion are some of the most important and ground-breaking of our time. He demonstrates that religion is not about belief but about practices.”