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When God Was a BirdChristianity, Animism, and the Re-Enchantment of the World$
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Mark I. Wallace

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780823281329

Published to Fordham Scholarship Online: May 2019

DOI: 10.5422/fordham/9780823281329.001.0001

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Song of the Wood Thrush

Song of the Wood Thrush

(p.20) Chapter 1 Song of the Wood Thrush
When God Was a Bird

Mark I. Wallace

Fordham University Press

Chapter 1 begins with the song of the wood thrush and then focuses on divine animals in the Bible. It examines the Gospels’ “pigeon God” in which the Spirit-bird alights on Jesus at the time of his baptism, signaling the unity of all things: divine life and birdlife, divinity and animality, spirit and flesh. And it argues that the Bible’s seeming prohibitions against animal deities is vitiated by Moses’ and Jesus’ ophidian shamanism that privileges snake-totemism as a source of salvation in Numbers and John, respectively. It examines intimations of “Christian animism”—the belief that all things, including so-called inanimate objects, are alive with sacred presence—in George E. “Tink” Taylor, Lynn White Jr., and the Martyrdom of Polycarp, a second-century CE avian spirit possession narrative. It concludes that insofar as the Spirit is ornithomorphic, it behooves us to care for the natural world as the site of God’s daily presence.

Keywords:   animality, divine life, Jesus, Moses, ornithomorphic, pigeon God, shamanism, wood thrush

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