While artifacts, things designed and made by human beings, owe their existence entirely to their creators, most of us, most of the time, think of them as having very little to do with us beyond functional utility. There seems to be a clear, if invisible, line through reality whereby humans regard most of the works of their own hands as being dead and completely alien from the animated human world-even though that world is populated and significantly shaped by those very same objects. Animals, wildernesses, seas, rivers, even rocks, which owe nothing directly to

human creative agency whatsoever, are often regarded as being of great concern; people can even feel that they have a relationship, mystical, romantic, or other, with them. But while rare or extraordinary objects of high art or culture, such as the Mona Lisa or the Sistine Chapel, can be objects that people are overtly interested in, and with which they hope to have significant relations, when it comes to the ordinary artifacts surrounding and supporting us-pens, tables, bicycles, shoes, houses, cars-we are inclined to reject the idea that we might or should have some kind of conscious living relationship with them, even if it may be theoretically acknowledged that, as much as genes and ideas, they help to shape us culturally socially, psychologically, and even physically (Dant 1999, 2005). Witness the fact that many Western adults have bad backs because of the curious modern habit of sitting in chairs that raise us above nature, the earth, and the beasts, but also distort our spines and skeletons (Cranz 2000). In this chapter, I question the assumption that humans live in a world that

can be completely separated off from the realm of artifacts. Indeed, I argue that artifacts are full of person-like attributes-unsurprisingly, since they have been created by persons. Furthermore, it might make our lives and relations more rewarding if we actively cultivated more loving, friendly, relations with ordinary, everyday artifacts. These are the sorts of things that probably surround you now as you read (in a book, on an e-reader, through spectacles or contact lenses, by the light of an electric light, with a pencil in your hand, in a chair-all artifacts). The idea of forming person-like relations with “dead” artifacts can seem

bizarre, controversial, even worrying. Orsi (2005: 158) notes in the context of

the study or living religion that “what may be upsetting about the study of lived religion is that such research appears to align itself with the realness of religious worlds, with presence, thereby threatening to reawaken presence.” I would contend that all kinds of “presences” (including those recognized in artifacts) demand relationality, response, and responsibility. Presences and personal relations are both enticing and limiting. They root us to particular places and things so that while we may have more stable identities rooted in attachment and belonging, we are less detached from our worlds. This is highly inconvenient in late capitalist society, which prizes lack of resistance, material and other, and requires people to be mobile, flexible, endlessly acquisitive, and unattached to localities and things. Presences and person-like relations with all kinds of objects restrain and detain us, causing us to turn aside, sometimes even assaulting us, whether in everyday life or within religion. Formal monotheistic Western religions, often officially hostile to deep relations

with material as opposed to spiritual beings, have been an important locus for intimate and significant relationships with artifacts. So this is where I now begin.