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Embracing the Sacred in Nature Reclaiming the Sacred in Ourselves Tammie Byram Fowles, Ph.D, LISW.

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Presentation on theme: "Embracing the Sacred in Nature Reclaiming the Sacred in Ourselves Tammie Byram Fowles, Ph.D, LISW."— Presentation transcript:

1 Embracing the Sacred in Nature Reclaiming the Sacred in Ourselves Tammie Byram Fowles, Ph.D, LISW

2 If I spent enough time with the tiniest creature – even a caterpillar – I would never have to prepare a sermon. So full of God is every creature. -- Meister Eckhart

3 God the Spirit enfleshed in creation, experiences the agony of an earth under siege. The Spirit as the green face of God has become in our time the wounded God. Mark I. Wallace

4 The greatest destruction in our world is not being inflicted by psychopathic tyrants or terrorists. Its being done by ordinary people- law-abiding, churchgoing, family-loving moral people – who are enjoying their sport-utility vehicles, their vacation cruises, and their burgers, and are oblivious to where these pleasures come from and what they really cost… Ed Ayers, Editor of World Watch

5 That millions of people share in the same forms of mental pathology does not make those people sane. Erich Fromm

6 Our enormously productive economy…demands that we make consumption our way of life, that we convert the buying and use of goods into rituals, that we seek our spiritual satisfaction, our ego satisfaction, in consumption… We need things consumed, burned up, worn out, replaced, and discarded at an ever increasing rate. Victor Lebow as quoted by Alan Thein Durning, Are we Happy Yet? in Ecopsychology: Restoring the Earth Healing the Mind.

7 Corporate advertising is likely the largest single psychological project ever undertaken by the human race, yet its stunning impact remains curiously ignored by mainstream western psychology… …According to Business Week, the average American is exposed to about three thousand ads a day. Allen D. Kanner and Mary E. Gomes, The All Consuming Self in Ecopsychology: Restoring the Earth Healing the Mind.

8 …consumer practices serve to temporarily alleviate the anguish of an empty life. The purchase of a new product, especially a big ticket item such as a car or computer, typically produces an immediate surge of pleasure and achievement, and often confers status and recognition upon the owner. Yet as the novelty wears off, the emptiness threatens to return. The standard consumer solution is to focus on the next promising purchase. Allen D. Kanner and Mary E. Gomes, The All Consuming Self in Ecopsychology: Restoring the Earth Healing the Mind.

9 It is our imaginations that advertising exploits, and it is our imaginations that religion and myth traditionally played the role of satiating, telling stories that have morals to them, lessons to be learned. Now consumerism fulfills this role. The consumer ideology serves as the golden rule, advertising serves as sermons, products serve as our idolatry, and just as religion instills faith at an early age, so too does consumerism. W Mason, The Myth of Consumerism, planetpapers.com

10 There will be no new Noahs Ark to save some and leave the rest to perish. We all either sink or swim together… Leonardo Boff

11 Environmental ethicist Larry Rasmussen surmises that future generations will be stunned as they look back at our era, at the collective arrogance and pathology of ordinary Western Ways. But it is hard for us to recognize this…we middle class Americans see ourselves simply living as everyone else. Sallie McFague Life Abundant: Rethinking Theology and Economy For a Planet in Peril.

12 Our separation from the spiritual and the natural has wounded us deeply as demonstrated by escalating rates of depression, addictions, eating disorders, violent crimes committed by adolescents, environmental destruction, and so much more…

13 …the unfortunate thing about addiction is that its based in denial: until we begin the process of recovery, addicts are generally not conscious of even having a problem or of being out of touch with anything. Its probably the same with consumption addiction: those that consume with the most excess and abandon are likely those that are most out of touch with the reality of the crisis of unsustainable consumption of resources we currently face. Nikko Snyder

14 The wildfire spread of the consumer life-style around the world marks the most rapid and fundamental change in day-to-day existence the human species has ever experienced… The tragic irony of this momentous transition is that the historic rise of the consumer society has been quite effective in harming the environment, but not in providing people with a fulfilling life.... Alan Durning, CONSUMPTION AND ENVIRONMENT: HOW MUCH IS ENOUGH? CALYPSO LOG, Oct

15 Measured in constant dollars, the world's people have consumed as many goods and services since 1950 as all previous generations put together. Since 1940, Americans alone have used up as large a share of the earth's mineral resources as did everyone before them combined.... Alan Durning, CONSUMPTION AND ENVIRONMENT: HOW MUCH IS ENOUGH? CALYPSO LOG, Oct

16 I have said that ecocide is a spiritual disease. Like alcoholism -- another disease, as Carl Jung said, that is essentially spiritual in nature -- ecocide is rooted in addictive behaviors that already have and will continue to degrade health and well being… as in the case of the alcoholic, we know we are destroying our lives but we can no longer stop ourselves from doing so. Why else would the human community push itself further and further toward certain environmental catastrophe -- global warming, irreversible ozone depletion, massive deforestation, chronic loss of arable land, daily extinction of hundreds of species -- unless it is addicted to toxic habits from which it can no longer escape? THE GREEN FACE OF GOD: CHRISTIANITY IN AN AGE OF ECOCIDE by Mark I. Wallace Source: Cross Currents, Fall 200, Vol. 50 Issue 3.

17 Distinguishing between physical and emotional hungers can be a major watershed for many. For responding to the calls of emotional hunger will lead us into all kinds of territory, not just to do with family history, but beyond, into the nature of consumerism… Our emotional, or soul hunger, might tell us what we are yearning for on a more collective level, such as a yearning for community, a yearning for wilderness, a yearning for love, a yearning for home and to belong to a tribe… Ecopsychology: Seeking Health in an Ailing World by Mary-Jayne Rust, Resurgence Magazine, Feb 2004.

18 Message to the naked Ones I see you, naked Ones out of my big, brown, sad eyes I see you with your spindly limbs, lack of fur clever fingers thin necks big heads I see you and I am puzzled. I am Mountain Gorilla and I am on my way out. Farewell naked Ones – you may soon be the last primates left. Grieve with me little Ones, grieve with me and hope that you can bare the pain of our loss and the pain of your loneliness. I am Mountain Gorilla, the gentle One I do not kill, I do not destroy, I do not attack unprovoked. Do not fashion me into the image of what you fear in yourselves. I am no King Kong.

19 I am peaceful and patient, I forage and chew leaves. I live in family and close to the earth. All I need for survival is community and space. And there doesnt seem to be enough space for you on this planet little Ones. How can that be? I see you, naked Ones, and I am puzzled. I see your pain and your confusion and I wonder. I wonder how you forgot that the ground, the grass, the earth longs for the touch of your naked feet, how the rain loves to caress your skin, how the wind enjoys playing with your hair. I wonder when you forgot that we are siblings and that you are loved. Yes - despite everything you are loved. Wake up! Remember! Remember that community is more important than things. Remember that and you might yet survive. I will not. I am Mountain Gorilla. Remember me well. Let me go gracefully. Written by Martin Dronsfield

20 You cannot know that life is holy if you are content to live from economic practices that daily destroy life and diminish its possibility. Wendell Berry

21 Given the social taboo against crying out over the state of the world, people distance themselves from each other as do families and friends of the terminally ill. Harvey Cox

22 People are having less contact with nature than at any other time in the past… This has to change. Growing medical evidence shows that access to the natural environment improves health and wellbeing, prevents disease and helps people recover from illness." Dr William Bird.

23 …the earths ecological deterioration…would seem to constitute a spiritual crisis and may call for spiritual reflection on what we consider to be of ultimate importance in our lives and how we think we ought to live in the light of that… Paul Brockelman in With New Eyes: Seeing the Environment as Spiritual Issue (pg. 34) from The Greening of Faith, edited by Carroll, Brockelman and Westfall

24 …we can begin by experiencing the wonder of this world… Environmental Healing: Shifting from a Poverty Consciousness Jeanine M. Canty

25 As Dostoevsky puts it, Love all of Gods creation, the whole and every grain of sand in it. Love every leaf, every ray of light. Love the animals, love the plants, love everything. If you love everything, you will perceive the divine mystery in things. Paul Brockelman in With New Eyes: Seeing the Environment as Spiritual Issue (pg. 41) from The Greening of Faith, edited by Carroll, Brockelman and Westfall

26 From Abraham to Jesus…the great visionary encounters did not take place in temples, but in sheep pastures, in the desert, in the wilderness, on mountains, by rivers and on beaches, in the middle of the sea… Wendell Berry

27 What does it mean to live by the ideal of reverence for life in this world in our time? Most fundamentally, it means to take full responsibility for how we live. Being responsible means being aware of our interdependence with the larger community of life and being informed about the state of the planet, the nature of our bioregion, and the harm and suffering that our actions may cause other people and nature. Steven C Rockefeller in Reverence for Life (pg. 54) from The Greening of Faith, edited by Carroll, Brockelman and Westfall

28 The first step in the ecological journey is to fall in love with the beauty of this place… Matthew Fox in, Wrestling with the Prophets

29 The day of my spiritual awakening was the day I saw, and knew I saw, all things in God, and God in all things. Mechtild of Magdeburg

30 …Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts. There is symbolic as well as actual beauty in the migration of the birds, the ebb and flow of the tides… something infinitely healing in the repeated refrain of nature - the assurance that dawn comes after night, and spring after the winter. Rachel Carson quoted In Faith in Nature: Environmentalism As Religious Quest by Thomas R. Dunlap

31 The (creation centered tradition) considers the environment itself to be a divine womb, holy, worthy of reverence and respect… There is awe to be experienced in all of our relationships with creation… Matthew Fox, Wrestling with the Prophets

32 Open your feet like roots into Earth. Let go of the load youve been carrying. Find the mountains in your bones. Breathe into them and ask what they want to show you. Breathe. Put some sky around your heart. Give it space to fly. John R. Stowe

33 Qualities Found in Nature Peace, beauty, quiet, patience, and restfulness Strength, power, challenge, and energy Renewal, continuity, and creation Non-judgment and acceptance Variety and non-conformity Repetition and imitation Simplicity, lightness, and freedom

34 Sometimes I came across a tree which seemed like a Buddha or a Jesus: loving, compassionate, still, unambitious, enlightened, in eternal meditation giving pleasure to a pilgrim, shade to a cow, berries to a bird, beauty to its surroundings, health to its neighbors, branches for the fire, leaves for the soil, asking nothing in return, in total harmony with the wind and the rain. How much can I learn from a tree? The tree is my church, the tree is my temple, the tree is my mantra, the tree is my poem and my prayer. Ann Rowthorn

35 You did not come into this world. You came out of it. You are not a stranger here… Alan Watts

36 If we are to create an evolutionary bounce or leap forward, it will surely include a shift toward simpler, more sustainable and satisfying ways of living. Duane Elgin

37 When despair for the world grows in me and I wake in the night at the least sound in fear of what my life and my childrens lives may be, I go and lie down where the wood drake rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds. I come into the peace of wild things who do not tax their lives with forethought of grief. I come into the presence of still water. And I feel above me the day-blind stars waiting with their light. For a time I rest in the grace of the world, and am free. Wendell Berry, Openings: The Peace of Wild Things

38 We are holy creatures living among other holy creatures in a world that is holy. Wendell Berry

39 When greed and consumerism are exposed, when arrogance and irreverence are unplugged, when hurry and selfishness are named and repented of, the world and all it contains (widows, orphans, trees, soil) are revalued (or re-deemed) and made sacred again… Brian McLaren, Consider the Turtles of the Field, Sojourners, March, 2004.

40 The effects of caring will have to change our systems transportation systems that depend on fossil fuels and that divide and devastate our nonhuman neighbors' habitats, housing systems that maximize human impact through suburban sprawl, farming systems that violate rather than steward land, advertising systems that make us want more stuff that we don't need…Even our family systems will need reconsideration. For example, we may realize that nuclear family…both require (and waste) more resources than the truly traditional familythe extended or molecular one. Could extended families and intentional households ever make a comeback? If they do, it will be good news for all of creationincluding humans… Brian McLaren, Consider the Turtles of the Field, Sojourners, March, 2004.

41 John Robbins, in DIET FOR A NEW AMERICA, calculates that if Americans reduced their intake of meat by ten percent, the savings in grain and soybeans could feed 60 million people--the number of people who starve to death world-wide each year. Beth Clarke and Dyanna Riedlinger

42 Towards a Sustainable Society Educational services on the ecological and human costs of a consumer society Promotion of simple living Intentional communities Energy conservation/ alternative energy sources Community gardens, consumer and marketing cooperatives, tool sharing, time banks, etc. Community recycling and composting Coming Back to Life: Practices to Reconnect Our Lives, Our World By Joanna Macy and Molly Young Brown

43 Envisioning a Sustainable and Desirable America Humans will re-establish a spiritual connection to nature. Ever increasing consumption will no longer be considered an integral component of human needs. People will pay attention to their other needs and desires, such as joy, beauty, affection, participation, creativity, freedom, and understanding. From: Overview of Oberlin College Forum on Envisioning a Sustainable and Desirable America by Alice Loyd

44 Production will focus on quality, not quantity. Services rather than goods will be the most important product. Communities will integrate living space, community space, and work space with recreational needs and nature. People will live very close to where they work, where they shop, and where they play. Private homes [in America] will be smaller, but still large by world standards. Private gardens will supply most of the food the community eats. From: Overview of Oberlin College Forum on Envisioning a Sustainable and Desirable America by Alice Loyd

45 Status will not be conferred by high incomes and high consumption (individual ends) but rather by contribution to civil society (community ends). As more and more people come to understand the inherent complexity of ecosystems and human systems, an ecological worldview of complexity and indeterminacy, inspired by nature as mentorholistic, integrated, and flexiblewill replace the worldview of mechanical physics. Individualism will still be extremely important, but it will be tempered by a concern for the common good. From: Overview of Oberlin College Forum on Envisioning a Sustainable and Desirable America by Alice Loyd

46 Renewable resources will meet virtually all of the nations energy needs. Within communities public transportation will be abundant and convenient. America will be actively engaged in restoring and rebuilding its natural capital stocks by planting forests, restoring wetlands and increasing soil fertility. Apprenticeships will be an integral part of the learning process. The typical workweek in traditional jobs will be much less than today. From: Overview of Oberlin College Forum on Envisioning a Sustainable and Desirable America by Alice Loyd

47 Cities will be aggregations of smaller communities but will still be organized, in many cases, on ethnic or cultural lines, offering exceptional cultural diversity and richness. Countryside villages will house their own industries and service providers. Long commutes will be replaced by healthy exercise minus vehicle exhaust and road rage. Walking and bicycle riding will be the primary modes of transportation in good weather. Between communities people will travel by high speed rail. From: Overview of Oberlin College Forum on Envisioning a Sustainable and Desirable America by Alice Loyd

48 We dont need to save the world; we need to love it.


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