You may think of yoga, prayer, even walking as part of your spiritual practice. After reading "Animal Grace," you may add "barn chores" or "emptying the litter box" to that list.

Psychologist and animal rights activist Randour says that animals can be an integral part of our spiritual journeys. Animals teach us how to love and how to receive love; they show us how to live joyfully and gratefully. Randour learned an important lesson about death from her dog Toshi: death, she says, is not something that happens in a single moment, but a process of transformation.

If animals teach us about spirituality, spirituality also teaches us about animals. Drawing on Christianity, Judaism, Jainism, Hinduism, and Buddhism, Randour urges her readers to treat animals ethically and with kindness. Leaders of the Jewish Renewal movement have moved beyond the traditional dietary laws to embrace vegetarianism, and Christian writer Stephen Webb has emphasized that in the Eucharist, "a vegetarian meal..suffering is commemorated but no pain is inflicted."

You may not decide to swear off hamburgers after reading this book. But you will, undoubtedly, look at your dog-and your spiritual journey-anew.

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