Primal religions assign a major role to animals as spiritual teachers and as guiding spirits for shamans. Creatures are also present as pointers to God in the Bible and the Koran. Yet today, with the exception of the Feast of St. Francis in Christian churches when animals are blessed, they have been marginalized in institutional religions. This book by Christopher Manes (Green Rage), presents a thought-provoking survey of the interplay between humans and animals from the cave paintings of Ice Age Europe through the deluge of modern Hollywood movies about dogs, dolphins, and dinosaurs. Although churches seem to ignore animals, U.S. popular culture reveals how these creatures are part and parcel of our lives as pets, cartoon characters, stuffed toys, and names for automobiles and football and baseball teams.

With a fine grasp of religious history, Manes discusses medieval bestiaries, sacrifices, mythology, saintly zoology, and peaceable kingdoms. The author makes a good case for reintroducing animals into the center of our days — how we can again "embody our spirituality in the living, organic world of bird wings, coyote music, and the inexplicable migration of frogs under the garden gate."