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ANIMISM

These notes begin with comments on the excluded middle and terminology. Next is considered the relationship between animism and such things as materialism, cultural evolution, spiritualism, the nature of the universe and magic. Eight common assumptions are identified. Animism also often focuses on that which is distinctive, sometimes attributes magical properties to body parts, and seeks to tap impersonal supernatural power (with taboos and feng shui providing particular examples). Consideration is given to the personal spirit-beings venerated by animists, including evil spirits and ancestral spirits. The role of shamans is explained. Divination practices are outlined. The association of animism with shape-shifting and death receives comment. There is a brief remark on the social implications of animism and a consideration of its place in folk religion. This includes consideration of animistic expressions in Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam and Catholicism. There is cursory recognition that animism was rampant in the ancient world and some examples of animism in the Bible are identified. An initial consideration of a biblical response to animism follows. Animism and Christianity are compared and contrasted. There is reflection on missiological implications and, finally, some advice for those ministering to animists.

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