BOOK REVIEW by Judy
Taking the Adventure: Faith and Our Kinship with Animals
Gracia Fay Ellwood
If you are a fan of Gracia Fay Ellwood’s online “The Peaceable Table” monthly journal, then you may have already grabbed your copy of Taking the Adventure. For everyone else, I must tell you, the book is well-named. This is not just food for thought. It is a bountiful feast for thought, an exciting adventure for the mind and heart. Reading this book, we find ourselves in the company of a true scholar of literature, philosophy, parapsychology, faith traditions, and life. Ellwood shares her insights gleaned from the Bible, C.S. Lewis, Charles Dickens, Tolkien, Shakespeare, and many others. Along this adventurous pathway, she connects them all and shows us clues to what we must do to stop the destruction of earth and the suffering of animals caused by humanity.
With the story of Exodus, for example, she shows how animal activists find themselves in exile socially because of their compassion for all species and their attempts to break through widely accepted cultural traditions that are inherently violent. In exile she suggests, “We must live as though our thoughts, words, and actions will fan out and shape the future to an extent beyond our imagining: in short, we must love both friends and those we experience as foes.” (p. 43)
She encourages us--this brilliant mentor of ours--to work to liberate all animals, and at the same time to take care of ourselves, “refresh ourselves from our work by seeking out and savoring glimpses of this edenic Reality which is our and all other beings’ true home.” (p. 106) This is the “adventure” of finding our true selves and manifesting on earth our true home-a peaceable kingdom for all beings.
To help us manifest this paradise, Ellwood shares from her knowledge of literature. For example, she recalls for us how Frodo refused to kill Gollum in Lord of the Rings even though Gollum was a significant threat. It was because Frodo took pity on Gollum who could not see beyond his own greed that a great evil was averted. Much of the suffering and devastation of our earth is caused by greed and fear, but as bringers of compassion, we must have compassion both for victims and those involved in victimizing who cannot see beyond themselves. Acts of compassion are powerful beyond our knowledge.
After reading Taking the Adventure you may feel you just received another college degree--it is so rich in information and imagination. But much more than that—this is a book that enlivens us all with new energy and commitment for being steadfast in our passion to free the animals from human domination, to raise human consciousness, and to bring paradise to earth for all who live here. It is a book that we must share widely within our community of activists. It will be a special healing balm for those who feel discouraged or alone in this work. It is also a book to buy and give to people of faith, social justice activists, world peace activists, scholars, and every adventurer who wants to make the world a better place. This book is a ray of light that needs to be shining into all the dark places. Thank you, Gracia Fay Ellwood, for this brilliant gift of Light, Love, and Hope.