cover image Casting Indra’s Net: Fostering Spiritual Kinship and Community

Casting Indra’s Net: Fostering Spiritual Kinship and Community

Pamela Ayo Yetunde. Shambhala, $19.95 trade paper (240p) ISBN 978-1-645-47092-2

In this meandering outing, professor of pastoral care Yetunde (Object Relations, Buddhism, and Relationality in Womanist Practical Theology) extols the value of “spiritual community” in a polarized world. Employing the Buddhist symbol of Indra’s net (a vast net spanning the universe that connects all life) as a guiding concept, the author foregrounds the importance of “mutuality,” or a radical inclusivity based in human interconnectedness. To achieve it, she writes, humans must pursue a “compassion revolution” by caring for those they may not know or like and preventing “mobbery” (the accumulation of personal anger into powerful group anger). Along the way, Yetunde discusses the January 6 Capitol riot, the pandemic, and more to show how modern culture has shifted toward mobbery (in the past, people covered their mouths when sneezing to protect others from common colds, while Americans in early stages of the pandemic rejected masks and public health advice). As for returning to a state of civility, the author suggests readers “attend to others” by “cultivat[ing] a non-anxious presence” and “practic[ing] deep perception.” Though Yetunde’s aims are well-meaning, the result is haphazard: the religious insight, sociopolitical discussion, and occasional turns into psychology are vaguely linked, but never form a coherent line of reasoning. Readers will have to be very patient to get the most from this. (Feb.)