With a Foreword by Larry Dossey North Atlantic Books [...]
Coronet, 2017 ISBN: 9781473630109 Reviewed by Marian Van [...]
Moon Books, 2017 ISBN 978-1785355738 Reviewed by Piers Warren _____________________________________________________________ [...]
This book is about integrating spiritual values and techniques into everyday life and making intuitive connections with the place where ancient wisdom affects our daily life.
This book is primarily about Thomas Merton (31 January 1915 – 10 December 1968), a Trappist monk in the USA. But it is also about Creation Spirituality (as articulated by Matthew Fox) and Meister Eckhart, a Christian mystic of the Middle Ages who influenced both Thomas Merton and Matthew Fox. It is a good way not only to understand Thomas Merton but also to see the strands of Creation Spirituality in Eckhart, Merton and Fox.
This is Matthew Fox’s autobiography – revised and updated in 2015. It describes his life’s journey; born in Wisconsin, USA and being bought up in a Catholic family, through his time in the Dominican Order, his blossoming as a theologian and teacher, his dismissal from the Dominican Order and how he joined the Episcopalian Church (the Anglican Church in the USA).
This book on the Green Man—that ubiquitous but endlessly varied symbol that takes the form of a human face sprouting greenery—is impossible to pigeonhole and its message is hard to pin down in a few sentences. But the Green Man is unpindownable. Not just because his origins are so ancient and so complex but because he represents something that is still alive and real and omnipresent. Despite humankind’s efforts to ‘conquer’, ‘tame’ and ‘manage’ Nature, Nature resigns supreme—because of course we are Nature, subsumed within it, just like everything else in the living world. So what this author has produced, as a result of her journeying around the UK and other parts of Europe in search of the Green Man – and her amusing but often rambly and confusing meanderings through history, literature, folklore, religion, sex, magick, shamanism, metaphysics and endless speculative cogitation – is a book in which the Green Man is never pinned down, yet ever present.
‘Pathways of Green Wisdom: Discovering Earth Centred Teachings in Spiritual and Religious Traditions’ by Santoshan (Stephen Wollaston) (Ed)
A panoramic view of Earth-centred teachings in different spiritual and religious traditions. 10 authors cover 10 different traditions: Christianity, Judaism, Paganism, Daoism, Hinduism, Indigenous traditions, Islam, Buddhism, Jainism and Creation Spirituality (Creation Spirituality as articulated by Matthew Fox, which helped to lay the foundations for GreenSpirit). The territory covered is so vast that each chapter is often more of a personal reflection from someone either directly involved with the tradition or who is very knowledgeable about it.
Spiritual activism is about being both ‘spiritually active,’ i.e. inspiring others, as well as being ‘spiritually grounded,’ i.e. being a compassionate activist with protests and practical action. It has ten chapters covering a wide range of territory, each ending with a case study featuring a well-known person who has been involved in spiritual activism such as Julia Butterfly Hill, Gandhi, Muhammad (pbuh) and Desmond Tutu.
‘Reclaiming the Wild Soul: How Earth’s Landscapes Restore Us to Wholeness’ by Mary Reynolds Thompson
The thoughts and emotions that are stirred awake in us when we walk in a desert landscape have a different quality from those engendered by a walk in the depths of a forest. Different again are the ideas and images that come to mind when we marvel at a mountain peak or stand in a high place and look across a valley. And when we gaze out at the ocean or sit on the bank of a fast-flowing river or find ourselves in the middle of a grassy field, the inner scene changes again. In this unusual book, Mary Reynolds Thompson studies these deep connections between the Earth's primary landscapes and what she calls the 'soulscapes' of our inner lives and how this connection can be used for emotional healing and spiritual transformation.
Beginning with an evocative quote from the Tao to set the ambience for the material that follows, this work creatively holds many diverse areas in an integral manner covering, with a commanding scholarship, such fields as economics, psychology, cosmology, ecology and spirituality. It also displays a strenuous commitment to issues of social justice combined with a path-breaking reflection on sustainability in a larger evolutionary context, exploring the work of Thomas Berry and Brian Swimme in the context of cosmology.
‘Celebrating Planet Earth, a Pagan Christian Conversation: First steps in Interfaith dialogue’ Edited by Denise Cush
This book was inspired by a weekend gathering of Pagans and Christians in 2014 in which participants were invited to explore their prejudices and preconceptions, learn more about each other, and find common ground in ‘Celebrating Planet Earth’. It is divided into 3 main sections: Addressing our fears and prejudices, Possibilities for cooperation and The role of ritual practice, myth, music and poetry in each tradition and in inter-faith encounter. Each section has a number of chapters written by various participants and speakers who were at the gathering.
The churches have tended to regard creation as sacred only in so far as it reveals God to us and the focus is on our obligation to be responsible stewards rather than being in a real relationship with the rest of creation. Beck’s religious faith is important to him and he makes the case for Christian animism. The definition of animism that he uses is the attribution of a living soul to inanimate objects and natural phenomena and he argues that this is that is compatible with Christian tradition and the Bible.
SACRED SEED: A Collection of Essays. Compiled and edited by the Global Peace Initiative of Women with an introduction by Vandana Shiva
This is a collection of essays dedicated, as the front matter tells us, …to all those working to preserve and care for the Earth and Her life systems…the most dangerous war humankind is engaged in is the war against nature. Until we can learn to live peacefully with Nature we will not live peacefully with one another. The seed is frequently referred to in belief systems because it provides such a powerful metaphor for the hidden depths within natural systems that are essential to our existence on this planet, both physically and spiritually; the spiritual and the practical are brought together seamlessly in the essays in this book.
‘Excellent Beauty: The Naturalness of Religion and the Unnaturalness of the World ‘ by Eric Dietrich
Have we not always been led to believe that religion is the purveyor of mysteries and all that is supernatural rather than natural? And have we not learned that science destroys mystery by discovering truth? In fact, as Dietrich—professor of philosophy at Binghamton University—so thoroughly and competently explains, religion is actually a biological phenomenon, a property emerging from the process of human evolution. Meanwhile science, we have all discovered, is what destroys our mysteries and reveals to us all that is real about the world.
'Occupy Spirituality' is a superb dialogue between two important contemporary progressive Christian thinkers and activists. Though the subtitle partly suggests the book is focussed on the younger generation, there is nothing within the pages that is not relevant to us all, to the times in which we live and to the materialistic greed, bigotry and complacency that is bringing about the greatest spiritual crisis human and more-than-human life have ever faced. If this gives the impression this might a negative read, then it would be a wrong one. The book is truly inspirational. This is a spirituality that is prepared to get its hands dirty, to do something and work towards positive changes.
This is a book about Meister Eckhart, the 13th/14th century mystic who was born near Gotha in what was the Holy Roman Empire and is now in Germany. But the book is about much more than Meister Eckhart himself. Matthew Fox picks out key thinkers, philosophers, social and eco activists from modern times and shows how they have been influenced by, or resonate with, Meister Eckhart.
‘The Third Covenant: The Transmission of Consciousness in the Work of Pierre Teilhard De Chardin, Thomas Berry, and Albert J. Lachance’ by Albert J LaChance and Rebecca LaChance Goodwin.
Pierre Teilhard de Chardin devoted his life to reuniting the artificial fracture between science and religion and Thomas Berry furthered this reunification by repositioning the human in the unfolding of an evolving universe, integrated and interdependent with the rest of the life systems of the planet. Albert LaChance, himself a six-year, face-to-face student of Berry, brought this new paradigm into his work as a poet, psychologist, addiction recovery professional, and as a mystic and scholar of religion. Along with his daughter, Rebecca LaChance Goodwin, he explores, here, the development of this crucial shift in human understanding and its implications for the future.
Our present ecological crisis—accelerating climate change, species depletion, pollution and acidification of the oceans — is the greatest man-made disaster this planet has ever faced. There is a pressing need to articulate a spiritual response to this ecological crisis if we are to help bring the world as a living whole back into balance and in this book, under the editorship of Sufi teacher and author Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee, twenty powerful voices take it in turns to do that, each in his or her own way.
‘Ecology and Religion’ (Foundations of Contemporary Environmental Studies Series) by John Grim and Mary Evelyn Tucker
These authors have spent many years studying world religions. Their particular interest is in the relationship between religion and ecology and between them, they have probably done more than any academics anywhere to bring religious and ethical perspectives into environmental discussions. The aim of this textbook is to bring the fruits of their thought and study to the coming generations.
It has been said before that we will not protect what we do not love. In this sweet book, Thich Nhat Hanh not only shows his love for our beautiful planet, but fully explains how the planet is lovable. He reminds us of Earth's many blessings and leaves us with practical examples of how it behoves every one of us to create a loving relationship with her.
‘Rivers of Green Wisdom: Exploring Christian and Yogic Earth Centred Spirituality’ by Santoshan (Stephen Wollaston)
Possibly the first book ever to take Yoga in one hand and Christianity on the other and examine them both through the lens of an Earth-centred Spirituality. Is there, in fact, ‘green wisdom’ to be found within these two great traditions? If there is, then surely these need to be emphasised in this era of climate change and ever-worsening ecological crisis.
Matthew Fox’s third book on the remarkable mediaeval Rhineland mystic, Hildegard of Bingen, coincided with her canonisation and being officially recognized as a Doctor of the Catholic Church. It covers a lot of ground – some familiar as well as new – and supplies revealing snapshots about her life and teachings.
This book is an autobiographical spiritual journey - the story of the author’s enlightenment. He qualified and practised as a scientist, but realized that science alone does not have all the answers to some of the greatest questions and most uplifting phenomena relating to human life. He was raised in a tradition of organized religion but found also that their rituals and dogma alone are little help in resolving life’s most challenging issues. The answers to the most profound questions as to the reasons for existence must be sought within, by freeing oneself from the limitations of fundamentalist science or religion.
This book explores specifically Darwin’s personal relationship with his God, how this changed over his lifetime and the emotional anxiety that his scientific discoveries caused him because of the impact he knew these ideas would have on religious belief.
An exploration of often mutually exclusive and even contradictory opinions as to the purpose of human existence – explanations offered by religion and humanism, and by scientific rationalism or ideological belief; that we exist to fulfil a divine purpose versus humankind as the result of meaningless random mutation, and so on. The author will already be known to most readers in Britain as someone who served as a junior minister in a former UK Government.
The booklet traces the experiences and thinking of the Quaker movement in relation to creation, both looking at the roots of Quaker ideas before the 1600s and how it has changed since the beginning of Quakerism.
“Green spirituality,” writes editor Marian Van Eyk McCain, is “a spirituality centred on this planet Earth, the only home we humans and our ancestors have ever known.” Rooted in the Earth and in all creation, greens’ spirituality focuses in a deeply connected way with living in and caring about and for the Earth and every living entity in and on it.
‘Integral Spirituality: A Startling New Role for Religion in the Modern and Postmodern World’ by Ken Wilber
Ken Wilber's Integral approach, which is intrinsically value-free, is a unique method for understanding pretty much anything in a fully comprehensive, multidimensional and holistic way. It has the capacity to break up socio-cultural and ideological logjams and may well be the best tool available, right now, for achieving religious tolerance, peace and (when applied to ecological issues) sustainability.
The overall aim of this book is to define and describe dark green religion which, reduced to one simplistic sentence, means a belief in the intrinsic value and sacredness of Nature, and to examine the influence of this strand of belief upon our contemporary culture, particularly in the West.
The book is a call to action – to heal our wounds and our fractured society, and most importantly halt the violence we are inflicting on this planet before it's too late. The author points out that, through increasing urbanisation, most of us have lost contact with the land and the soil and as a result part of our soul has died. She writes from a Christian perspective but draws on the wisdom of other religious traditions as well. She assures readers that her message is for those of all faiths or none: what matters is that they possess 'the honesty of intention' She tackles big questions such as how we move into a new era of social responsibility, lay the foundations of a just society and reform our economic system so that we value people and not money.
‘Planet as Self’ argues for a radical rethink of our relationship with Mother Earth or Gaia and points out how beliefs – scientific or religious – can so easily be mistaken for truths. Nothing less than a paradigm shift in our basic beliefs is called for.
The aim of this book is to encourage a fundamental and beneficial re-evaluation of the way the sciences are defined and practised in our modern world. It does so by carefully and systematically examining ten core beliefs that most scientists accept without question, all of which are in fact untested and untestable and which severely limit the ability of our modern sciences to respond convincingly to the challenges we face in the twenty-first century.
In this book Marija Gimbutas provides us with a scholarly but also readable account of the Goddess tradition of Europe from the late Palaeolithic and Neolithic eras, through the megalithic and henge building periods and into recorded history.
As part of the development of a liberation theology, Anne Primavesi presents a critique of the view that biological evolution is driven almost exclusively by competitive processes and the way this has been carried over into the human SocialScape and used to justify the exploitation of humans and the natural world.
The book is written as a journey of discovery and Russell writes in the context of his own search to find a theory of consciousness. Apparently this is one of the major unsolved conundrums of psychology and even of quantum physics. It is possible to explain most human activities in terms of conventional science but how and why we should be conscious has still no satisfactory explanation.
Within eco-spiritual literature there are few titles that satisfactorily relate Hindu Yogic teachings with contemporary green issues, or do little more than simply acknowledge a basic relationship between the two. Michael Stone’s Yoga for a World out of Balance beautifully highlights how the five yamas (traditionally translated as non-violence, truthfulness, non-stealing, chastity, and greedlessness and non-grasping) are essentially interwoven with global and social responsibility and Earth-centred practices . The yamas themselves are invariably recommended within various Yogic traditions as an important first stage of an essential eightfold path that was outlined in the influential Patanjali Yoga Sutra.
When I was a child, everyone went to church (or chapel) on Sundays, or so it seemed. Spirituality and religion appeared synonymous. That is so no longer. The winds of change have blown hard in my lifetime, and you and I now live in a predominantly secular society – one of many in the Western world. But there is another strong weather pattern coming up against the wind. Religion may be in decline, but spirituality has never been so much in evidence. In a culture that now worships at the shopping mall yet comes away empty-hearted, there is a swell of yearning for a deeper connection – or a reconnection – with the sacred.
‘Green Spirituality: One answer to global environmental problems and world poverty’ by Chris Philpott
From GreenSpirit member Chris Philpott comes a book, many years in the making, that is a compendium of attitudes and sources of wisdom about the spiritual basis of what it is to be green. In an inspiring Foreword, the author, scientist and activist Vandana Shiva suggests that this book could help us to rediscover what she calls a ‘spiritual sheet anchor.’
Emma is head of the international Druid Network and the author of ten books. She teaches courses worldwide, and lectures at universities and conferences on Druidry, environmentalism, healing, and women's spirituality.
How many of us, staring up into the unfathomable reaches of the Milky Way on a clear, moonless night, have felt a shiver run through us? Who could not feel a shiver of awe – perhaps even of terror – in contemplating his or her puny insignificance against a background of stars? Compared to the immensity of even this visible fragment of the mysterious universe, we are mere specks of dust. And yet… perhaps we are less puny and less separate than we think.
Neale Douglas Walsch has probably done more than anyone in this last couple of decades to assist people in outgrowing their infantile images of 'God' as some old, judgmental, sky-dwelling patriarch in a nightie, and replace them with something closer to the Perennial Philosophy. His Conversations with God series of books and tapes has been remarkably popular, not least because his main tool is humour and he uses it so well.
GreenSpirit member Adrian Smith sees the journey away from unquestioned tradition as forking into two slightly different paths.
In Peace is the Way, Deepak Chopra speaks of the choice that contemporary people face concerning religion. Not religion per se, but religion in the ossified, tradition-encrusted form in which it appears to so many people today.
Is it a novel? Is it a screenplay? What on earth (or in heaven) is it? Vincent Tilsley's Holy Night is unlike anything else I have ever read. It also stirred up more excitement in me than any book I have read in a long time and stretched my mind to its furthest limits.
BBC presenter Peter Owen-Jones puts his finger right on the spot when he describes Mark Townsend as “a priest on the edge.” As he reminds us, edges are always the places in the biosphere where we find the most diversity and the greatest creativity. In the noösphere, the same applies. The edge is where one finds people bold enough to move out of comfort and familiarity, to seek, to question and to birth new ideas.
Like most people in the Western world, I’d had little or no exposure to Shinto, the ancient, traditional spirituality of Japan. It was never included in my mental list of wisdom traditions and, I am now ashamed to say, if I thought about it at all I’d dismissed it as merely a set of rituals that Japanese people traditionally observed out of habit rather than conviction. How wrong I was.
The overall theme and objective of this book is to illustrate that Jesus of Nazareth was green. Grabill shows, from a study of biblical translations direct from the Aramaic and quotations from texts long ago eliminated from the bible by church politicians, that Jesus would probably be at the forefront of the green movement were he alive and teaching today.
In the summer of 2010, Caroline Brazier co-led a week-long eco-therapy group in her Buddhist community’s retreat centre in the French countryside. At the conclusion of the week, she began to write down her thoughts and reflections. In her words, “This book is the result. An account of a group and of a summer, interwoven with the ideas and therapeutic theory which framed our work, it is an invitation to share, to join the exploration and to experience the process of engagement in a healing relationship with nature.”