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The Souls of Animals
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The Souls of Animals

3.8 of 5 stars 3.80  ·  rating details  ·  86 ratings  ·  17 reviews
In this celebrated book author Gary Kowalski offers vignettes from the lives of creatures that illustrate the qualities he considers spiritual: playfulness; capacity for love; altruism; and awareness of death. By "de-sacrilizing" animals, we make ourselves less human. Kowalski reminds us, "if we are to keep our family homestead -- Earth -- safe for coming generations, we m ...more
Paperback, 160 pages
Published August 18th 2006 by New World Library (first published 1991)
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This author disputes the Western viewpoint that man is superior to the animals and reigns over them. He presents his thesis: the possiblity for other animals to be spiritual - using stories and actual events from the experiences of biologists, ornithologists, and anthropologists, and quotes and ideas from Native Americans like Black Elk and Chief Seattle, philosophers such as Martin Buber, Immanual Kant, and Ernest Becker, scientists like Darwin and Rachel Carson, poets such as Walt Whitman and ...more
This is an important book for many reasons. This author's awareness and sensitivity brings us into the reality of other sentient beings largely ignored and mistreated within our modern world. Scientific evidence is showing us, over and over, how animals, alongside humans, share emotions, loving bonds, hopes and desires just as we do. To think otherwise is nothing short of ignorance or hubris. The more I learn of animals the more I see commonalities which inspires respect, awe, and love.
Dave Courtney
It has some nice stories, and I am sure more than a few of us will find the stories touching. And maybe that's how this needs to be approached rather than as an academic read, in fairness. It doesn't really investigate the issues that it very briefly touches on, and doesn't really offer anything significantly new to the discussion that many will already be aware of (that animals are emotional beings for example). It probably wouldn't suffice to convince those unaware or uninterested in the issue ...more
A quick read that I hope will inspire those who read it to reconsider the current lack of value society places on animals as individuals with their own needs and lives beyond being commodities. It isn't likely to hold much new information for seasoned AR advocates, but it wouldn't hurt to read it anyway--you might find it worth recommending to someone who isn't on the same page, so to speak. The author is a Reverend, which sets it slightly apart from the usual AR-related writing while remaining ...more
I think this book is a very interesting book. For me personally, I do not question that animals have souls. I know that animals have souls, feelings, perceptions, and the desire to communicate and connect just like any human. This book seeks to prove that animals do indeed have souls. I did enjoy reading this book and hearing another persons' experiences with animals. The book is information, interesting, loving, and protective of animals. It was a nice book to read that was for the most part sw ...more
Leanne Ellis
Two and a half stars. I really enjoyed the vignettes illustrating animals displaying emotions, self-awareness, altruism, etc. But he spent a lot of time "proving" points that I already know to be true: that we should treat animals with respect and dignity, that we share many traits with animals and can learn from them. I suppose some people might need to have this proven to them, but I found myself skimming the persuasive writing parts of the book.
I love the way Kowalski weaves his spiritual experiences as a preacher into the text, connecting human needs and behaviors with those of animals. However, I found the piece to be lacking in depth and almost cliche. One point I enjoyed though was the idea that anthropomorphizing is not applying human characteristics to animals, but rather, identifying human characteristics in animals that we share.
Angie Curtis
If you love animals this is a book for you. It will make you cry but it will touch your humanity in a way you never thought possible. This is a book about animal spirituality and it remind you how special animals truly are. They speak to us all the time but many don't listen. If you take the time to listen to the animals you will learn more than you could ever imagine.
I remember feeling crushed as a kid when an adult told me that animals don't go to heaven because they don't have souls. Having been in the presence of many animals who were more compassionate than some of the people I knew, I didn't listen. I would have really loved to have read this book when I was a kid.
May 29, 2007 Belinda rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: all
Absolutely fantastic book--so moving--did not change my perspective as I already think animals are FAAARRR better than people anyway but was just beautifully written and had some amazing anecdotes. A real treasure.
This is an interesting perspective on the capacity of animals to feel sad, mourn, play, love, and have souls, in general to share much with humans.
Deb Weina
Easy and fast read for a quiet afternoon. I don't disagree with what he shares since I already believe it by lived experience.
Animals are not inanimate objects without feeling and intellect but thinking, sentient individuals that deserve our respect.
Jun 18, 2008 Shelley rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: animal lovers, anthropologists, thinkers
Recommended to Shelley by: myself
i would have liked it to go a bit deeper but it was a very interesting and thought provoking read.
This book changed my perspective on animals a long time ago.
A sweet read. Nothing really memorable.
Aug 11, 2007 Angela rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: anyone
Overall, this book is a sometimes touching look at why the author believes animals have souls. I already believed animals have souls, so I did not need any convincing, however. But this book would be good for anyone who wants to think about this question with some examples to get your thoughts moving.

One thing I disliked about this book: The author seems to assume that in order to respect and love our fellow souled beings, we should not be killing them and using them for food, etc. He used a qu
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“Animals, like us, are living souls. They are not things. They are not objects. Neither are they human. Yet they mourn. They love. They dance. They suffer. They know the peaks and chasms of being.” 52 likes
“We are mortals all, human and nonhuman, bound in one fellowship of love and travail. No one escapes the fate of death. But we can, with caring, make our good-byes less tormented. If we broaden the circle of our compassion, life can be less cruel.” 11 likes
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