The Lost Gospel of the Earth; A Call for Renewing Nature, Spirit and Politicsby Tom Hayden, B. Ras
From Tom Hayden - a 1960s radical and longtime progressive California legislator - here is an impassioned plea for reclaiming our spiritual bond with the earth. Hayden argues that the basis of our present environmental crisis was laid long ago, when tribal systems of belief were replaced by formal religions. Nature-based mysticism gave way to human-centered theologies… See more details below
From Tom Hayden - a 1960s radical and longtime progressive California legislator - here is an impassioned plea for reclaiming our spiritual bond with the earth. Hayden argues that the basis of our present environmental crisis was laid long ago, when tribal systems of belief were replaced by formal religions. Nature-based mysticism gave way to human-centered theologies that desanctified the earth and taught people to see themselves as dominant over nature. If we want to heal the destructive divide that exists between the human spirit and the natural world, we must retrieve the "lost gospel of the earth" by which people live in kinship with a sacred natural world. Hayden finds that Christianity, Judaism, and Buddhism have defaulted on the environmental crisis, but believes that their earlier currents of native mysticism can be restored and applied to the present. Technical fixes and economic incentives will not cure our pathological addiction to making progress at the expense of the earth. Hayden blends personal spirituality with concrete political vision into a new politics that is grounded in environmental economics with a moral core. This new "politics of the spirit," drawing on the tradition of participatory democracy as well as the theories of ecotheology, calls for nothing less than the transformation of our entire political culture.
We live in a miserable, greedy, bureaucratic, utilitarian, Machiavellian world, Hayden warns us, one in which nearly all of our institutions, from the state to the church to the business, urge us on to ever greater environmental destructiveness. Our spiritual underpinnings are absent, so Earth can't strut its stuff as a sacred presence, a realm of creation that inspires awe and reverence. 'Twasn't always so, Hayden suggests. Humans didn't always consider themselves Lords of the Universe, smug stewards of nature. He points to the lost nature mysticism evident in the Psalms, Ecclesiastes, and Job, charts the transition from earth-bound to sky-bound holiness, rues Genesis and the domination of nature; finds in Buddhism "kindness and pity for all living things," including the whole of nature, sentient or not. In ancient cultures he encounters one instance after another of sacred kinship with nature: From the dreamtime of Australia's Aborigines to Native American sweat lodges, vision quests, and sun dances, to the runes and sacred groves of the ancient Celts. But these sentiments, these guideposts, have been sadly marginalized in all the major religions, and in a number of the native cultures as well. After a lengthy reprise of American history since Columbusall machine-age, industrial juggernaut madness, with no whit of sacredness in itHayden makes his pitch: It is time for a new sanctification of nature in all religions, time for a change in consciousness, for new ethical guidelines that will reshape the existing political and economic systems.
As a manifesto, Hayden's work is full of lofty notions, often artfully expressed, always passionate. As a guide for those desiring specifics rather than slogans, however, it is considerably less useful.
- Sierra Club Books
- Publication date:
- Product dimensions:
- 6.27(w) x 8.47(h) x 1.60(d)
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