Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Book Review: Caretaking a New Soul by Anne Carson

"Spirituality is acknowledged as a vital force in American life- not just as the external practice of 'religion', but as the true ground of all relations between people and the world." - From the book's introduction
This book drew me in as a concept right away- religious leaders and spiritual people, all commenting about how parenting for them is a spiritual practice, at least as far as tending to the development of their child. Authors include practitioners of many religions, including pagans and Buddhists. This was also appealing to me!

Sections in the book include: Parents as Guides, The Spirituality of Motherhood, The Spirituality of Infants, Young Children: The Blossoming Soul, Older Children: Being in the World, Adolescence: A Time of Letting Go, and Sharing Your Spirituality With Your Family. So there is a bit of something for everyone on the parenting spectrum, no?

I loved that there were ritual ideas to make life passages such as conception, the return of menstrual blood of a new mother, getting a driver's license, and death of someone close in the book. Any way that we can make the ordinary events of our lives sacred- I am all for it.

One thing that disturbs me about the book is the glorification of circumcision in the Jewish faith. (I know that this exists, but I am still horrified at the practice, frankly.) While I know that this is culturally (not religiously required, I have learned) a part of Judaism, it would have been nice to see an essay from one of the many Jews who prefer the Brit Shalom over the Brit Milah to counter the propaganda.

I would have also liked to see more father's voices. There is plenty to say on the glories and spirituality of motherhood (especially from a Dianic witch), of course- but if we ever expect to move into a place where men are welcomed into nurturing roles and not automatically seen as pedophiles, we need to start somewhere. How about an essay or two on fatherhood?

That said, the book is pleasant and has some gems! Anne Carson, the editor, submitted much of the rituals for different times of life and passages, and I really enjoyed the interviews with teenagers about their spirituality (and how, if at all, it differs from their parents').

Formal Rating:
Title: Caretaking a New Soul: Writings on Parenting from Thich Nhat Hanh to Z Budapest
Author: Anne Carson
Publisher: The Crossing Press
Price: $14.95 USD 
ISBN: 1-58091-018-1

Topics Covered: Parenting, Religion, Spirituality, Buddhism, paganism, Christianity, Judaism, Oter religions.

Target Audience: People open to all religions, faiths, and spiritual practices who are raising children.
Witch Mom Rating: Two Hats
 A decent read with some great ideas. Wish it had been more balanced in gender representation, however.

1 comment:

  1. Huh, I tried to read this book and just wasn't that impressed with it. It's been relegated to the bottom of the magazine basket in the bathroom. I'm glad to hear you got something out of it, though!


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