Participatory Spirituality - A Farewell to Authoritarian Religion

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John Heron. Participatory Spirituality: A Farewell to Authoritarian Religion, Lulu Press, 2006.

Note from the author

John Heron at

"I’ve launched a new book “Participatory Spirituality: A Farewell to Authoritarian Religion" on sale now at It is an experimental foray into participatory publishing, using the facilities provided by Bob Young’s Lulu Press Inc. Young, of course, has been very influential in the development of Linux and open source software. Lulu Press is his latest venture after many years with Red Hat.

I think there needs to be a bit more consonance between the participatory worldview and the way books about it are published. To this end, the main features of my prototype experiment are as follows:

  1. I disclaim the notion of intellectual property rights, so the book is free of copyright and states its copyright free license on the copyright page of the prelims. [Conventional publishing needs to promote and extend intellectual property rights in order to protect its investment and profit. But the participatory worldview stands, I believe, for the maximum degree of co-creative co-operative hybridization among autonomous thinkers.] In the Preface, I invite the reader to appropriate the book’s contents in any way that furthers their own worldview, and to exercise unrestricted rights of reproduction and use. In other words, my most basic ideas, however original, are open source.
  2. As the author, I participate fully in (a) the conceiving and writing of the book; (b) the choice of book size and binding, the typographic design and layout of the entire book, including doing the covers, photos, images, diagrams; (c) decisions about royalty amounts, retail costs; (d) managing the marketing. All this makes the author’s spirituality more fully embodied, by integrating the conceptual, the presentational, the economic and the managerial. I have included three of my artistic images at the beginning, the middle and the end of the book, to manifest the imaginal, nondiscursive side of the soul.
  3. In the Preface, I have invited the reader to participate in the book, analogous to the way in which a person participates in David Hockney’s photo collages, which overlap many photos of the same scene taken at different times and from different viewpoints. Indeed, the book is presented as a conceptual collage of diverse types of declaration, and the reader is invited to roam freely among them, dynamically building up a comprehension of the whole. To this end, I have made the book index-free. An index is an analytic list of concepts and names devoid of any context, and is a distraction from building up one’s own map of concepts and names by context-rich participative roaming through the pages.
  4. To elaborate further on the collage paradigm, I have titled the contents page in the prelims “Perspectives" and labelled the broad thrust of each of the 20 Perspectives as one or other of the following: manifesto, personal, theology, metaphysics, epistemology, pathology, psychology, practice. I have also indicated by small sun-symbols which perspectives are at the centre of the conceptual collage. This is explained in the Preface.

Lulu Press is the most radical of all the digital print-on-demand internet publishers which I have found. It makes no upfront charges of any kind. It hosts all your projects and provides all its technological facilities free. It allows the maximum degree of author participation in book-production decision-making. It gives scope for authors to choose their own copyright and licensing format. It exercises no control over the authors’ vision and creativity. It makes its money when your book sells. It offers a major challenge to the elitism, snobbery and intellectual property conservatism of conventional publishing, from which, needless to say, I have been a grateful, but somewhat blinkered, beneficiary for many years; and will no doubt continue to be so, with several books in conventional print, although I’ll be less blinkered.

To purchase the book direct from Lulu Press go to Click on the Preview link below the thumbnail of the front cover (enlarge this to see a photo of one of our glades in the grounds here) and you can see all the prelims including the free of copyright page, Perspectives, the Preface, and some of the opening text.

The book has also been launched through ISBN global distribution and is available online at,,,,,,, (Belgium), etc.."