California state senator and former radical activist Hayden's (Reunion, 1988, etc.) prescription for our environmental...


"THE LOST GOSPEL OF THE EARTH: A Call for Renewing Nature, Spirit, and Politics"

California state senator and former radical activist Hayden's (Reunion, 1988, etc.) prescription for our environmental malaise calls for a reinfusion of the spiritual to heal the divide between humans and the natural world. 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 Columbus--all machine-age, industrial juggernaut madness, with no whit of sacredness in it--Hayden 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.

Pub Date: Sept. 19, 1996


Page Count: 267

Publisher: Sierra Club

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1996