"Mr. Sanders finds no easy way to grasp the daunting duality of nature, its power to both heal and destroy. But he decides that in spite of its contradictions, the universe is still worthy of respect and affection . . . Sanders hope[s] that the arts and sciences, in expanding society’s collective imagination, can help humanity see possibilities beyond the present periland a greater sense of our shared predicament . . . Moments of transcendence are around us, Mr. Sanders reminds us in this troubled season, if only we take the time to notice." Danny Heitman, The Wall Street Journal
"As in most of his work, Sanders balances the moments of disaster and despair with the unending possibilities of human creativity and compassion, of art: the transforming power of the human imagination in the face of pending destruction . . . With the art of his language, Sanders invites readers to use their imaginations to find their experiences in his." Tom Montgomery Fate, The Christian Century
"Elegant & spiritual . . . Sanders asks the right questions in these essays . . . [He] keeps us alert to other human challenges and delights." Frederic and Mary Ann Brusatt, Spirituality & Practice
"In his measured, finely crafted prose, you can hear a lion roaring in the winter of our fragile existence . . . [Sanders] argues throughout that human imagination has achieved breathtaking heights, and using that imagination for collective action is our only hope in surviving the converging catastrophes we’ve set in motion . . . It motivates by sharpening the argument for trying, even while unflinchingly staring into the abyss." Jim Poyser, NUVO
"His work rings with authenticity, caring, and a deep sense of hope . . . Sanders is part of a rich vein of American writers, from Henry David Thoreau to Leopold to Wendell Berry to Annie Dillard, who promote preservation of the land by expressing a love for it . . . In The Way of Imagination, Sanders envisions a world in which love for the Earth replaces the pursuits that conspired to make us unhealthy." Bill Lueders, The Progressive
"As a verbal artist, Sanders is one of those who use imagination to evoke the imaginations of others, trying to spur the sympathy that leads to action . . . Authentic, wide-awake writing . . . Sanders shifts deftly from factual reporting to personal narrative to nature writing to quiet but indignant protest." David Heddendorf, Front Porch Republic
"A profoundly humane essayist, novelist, and nature writer finds glimmers of hope for a world in peril . . . The author is no Pollyanna, but he puts his trust in our individual and collective imaginationnot just science or the more benign tenets of religionto conceive of and walk a more constructive path . . . Changing attitudes is our most difficult task. Sanders, an insightful guide, knows we have no choice but to try."Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
"A comfort . . . It tells patiently and carefully the truth as you have troubled to know it and to live with it. I like your title, The Way of Imagination, by which you announce your commitment to a thoroughness contrary to the bad motives of anger, fear, and hate. Most of all, I am grateful for your refusal to single out one of our interdependent great problems as the most urgent. I take this as a courtesy to the likelihood that we can't solve one of those problems, all rooted in our habitual violence, without solving them all." Wendell Berry, in a letter to the author
"A dazzling, often heartbreaking, and ultimately healing meditation on the power of art to confront the existential threat that human greed and violence has foisted upon the earth. Scott Russell Sanders has written a vital book for this dark moment in history, demonstrating the truth of his insight that 'imagination keeps us from being trapped in the present arrangement of things.' His faith in the creative process as a shaping force for good is bracing, and his belief that we are called to love and compassion, notwithstanding the abundant evidence of human folly, is borne out on every page of this illuminating book." ––Christopher Merrill, author of Self-Portrait with Dogwood
"Scott Russell Sanders is an honest man in a time of lies, a wise man in a time of foolishness, a healer in a time of wounds, and a beautiful writer in a time of ugly rants. His new book thus offers both solace and inspiration. Like Loren Eiseley or Rachel Carson, Sanders begins with the natural world and leads readers into the moral world, where wondering love becomes an urgent call to care." ––Kathleen Dean Moore, author of Great Tide Rising
"To read Scott Russell Sanders is to be nourished by a thoughtful mind, a profoundly articulate voice, and a kind soul speaking from the American heartland. These essays praise the good long work of his life, inquiring into the sources of our destructive behaviors and the wellsprings of healing in the imagination. In speaking of both ecological and familial grief, Sanders brings to the fore his deep faith in our capacity to reimagine the human story." ––Alison Hawthorne Deming, author of Zoologies: On Animals and the Human Spirit
A profoundly humane essayist, novelist, and nature writer finds glimmers of hope for a world in peril.
Sanders, the author of more than 20 books of fiction and nonfiction, investigates our unprecedented rate and scale of environmental destruction, species extinction, and cultural disintegration, locating some familiar culprits: the fundamental scaffolding of capitalism, unrestrained (and unsustainable) growth, wealth defined only in terms of money, grotesque income inequities, overpopulation, squandered resources, and an utter lack of political will to do anything substantive about it. He explores what drives our risky behaviors and antiquated mindsets, painting a grim panorama of human follies and their consequences. However urgent, none of this is terribly original, nor does Sanders, who is often intensely personal, claim it to be. What sets this collection apart is the manner in which he connects these crises and, even in his most despairing moments, assays our capacity for change. One may argue that Sanders overestimates the power of art (literature especially) to sway the multitudes—particularly the comfortable denizens of developed nations—when history shows that the arts have exerted comparatively little direct influence on human actions. The author is no Pollyanna, but he puts his trust in our individual and collective imagination—not just science or the more benign tenets of religion—to conceive of and walk a more constructive path. “Imagination breaks the shell of the status quo,” he writes, “summoning up objects that do not yet exist, actions that no one has yet performed, and wiser ways of living that have yet to be realized….Time and again, bold acts of imagination have given rise to profound shifts in our ethical views and social practices.” Given his focus on domestic foolhardiness, some will criticize Sanders’ exhortations as anti-American or socialistic, but this is a narrow, misguided view.
Changing attitudes is our most difficult task. Sanders, an insightful guide, knows we have no choice but to try.