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Pantheism "is the belief that the universe... is an interconnected whole that we can rightly consider sacred." A Quaker who has studied many philosophies and religions (she was once kicked out of an Indian ashram), Russell has lived for nearly three decades in southwestern New Mexico, writing (Hunger; An Obsession with Butterflies), teaching, banding birds, searching for meaning and hoping to see a sandhill crane dance. A "scientific pantheist," she claims not to be "built for mysticism," though her description of "walking through the Mind and Body of God" might prove otherwise. The uniqueness of this book, however, lies less in its lyrical passages—which sometimes evoke the early Annie Dillard—than in its concise and readable summaries of pantheistic thought, especially that of Marcus Aurelius, Giordano Bruno, Baruch Spinoza and Walt Whitman. Russell's faith is all-embracing but unsentimental. "Pantheism is weak on suffering," she admits, but "what is the alternative? We are braided into pain and joy, darkness and light. We are braided into nature, reflecting the sky." (July)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.