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

ISBN: 0-87156-888-8

Page Count: 267

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1996

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

NIGHT

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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A clear, useful guide through the current chaotic political landscape.

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WHY WE'RE POLARIZED

A sharp explanation of how American politics has become so discordant.

Journalist Klein, co-founder of Vox, formerly of the Washington Post, MSNBC, and Bloomberg, reminds readers that political commentators in the 1950s and ’60s denounced Republicans and Democrats as “tweedledum and tweedledee.” With liberals and conservatives in both parties, they complained, voters lacked a true choice. The author suspects that race played a role, and he capably shows us why and how. For a century after the Civil War, former Confederate states, obsessed with keeping blacks powerless, elected a congressional bloc that “kept the Democratic party less liberal than it otherwise would’ve been, the Republican Party congressionally weaker than it otherwise would’ve been, and stopped the parties from sorting themselves around the deepest political cleavage of the age.” Following the passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, many white Southern Democrats became Republicans, and the parties turned consistently liberal and conservative. Given a “true choice,” Klein maintains, voters discarded ideology in favor of “identity politics.” Americans, like all humans, cherish their “tribe” and distrust outsiders. Identity was once a preoccupation of minorities, but it has recently attracted white activists and poisoned the national discourse. The author deplores the decline of mass media (network TV, daily newspapers), which could not offend a large audience, and the rise of niche media and internet sites, which tell a small audience only what they want to hear. American observers often joke about European nations that have many parties who vote in lock step. In fact, such parties cooperate to pass legislation. America is the sole system with only two parties, both of which are convinced that the other is not only incompetent (a traditional accusation), but a danger to the nation. So far, calls for drastic action to prevent the apocalypse are confined to social media, fringe activists, and the rhetoric of Trump supporters. Fortunately—according to Klein—Trump is lazy, but future presidents may be more savvy. The author does not conclude this deeply insightful, if dispiriting, analysis by proposing a solution.

A clear, useful guide through the current chaotic political landscape.

Pub Date: Jan. 28, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4767-0032-8

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Avid Reader Press

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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