EcoFaith leader Dick Harmon has shared the following book review. Please share with us your thoughts in the comment section below. More book reviews by EcoFaith leaders will be posted in 2015.

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Over the past few weeks, luck Kairos if you prefer has had me reading away in three strong books.

Naomi Klein, in This Changes Everything[1] makes the connections among extractive unregulated capitalism, our thoroughly captured political leadership, and the climate chaos we are now experiencing. She sees the early signs of a global awakening, which could model itself morally and politically on this country 19th and 20th century abolitionists, learning to call for and put in place a new, moral economy, regenerative for all of nature, including humans.

Klein question is: Will we wake up in time, and at a scale big enough, to avoid the worst of climate disruption and the massive social chaos that comes with it?

Barbara Kingsolver, in Flight Behavior: A Novel, [2] tells the story of a young mother awakening to the big picture from the traps of a small-farm family on the razor edge of poverty and survival and the religious snares that surround it. Dellarobia Turnbow, by pure accident, encounters a gathering of millions of monarch butterflies in migration to Central Mexico. That encounter frees her curiosity, shifts her worldview, and brings her into her vocation.

Kingsolver question is: Will we wake up in time, and at a scale big enough, to avoid the worst of the Sixth Great Extermination?

Barbara Tuchman, in The March of Folly: From Troy to Vietnam,[3] links the illusions and delusions of leaders of the Trojan War, of the Vatican in the period leading to the Reformation, in the British loss of its North American colonies, and in the course leading the US to invade Vietnam. The commonality in all these events (and several more she touches upon) is in leaders collective blindness to the known facts of a situation, an addiction to blundering ahead toward what is clearly tragic.

Tuchman question is: Why do we pursue policy contrary to self-interest?

For me, the parallels to our current political, economic, ecological and climate delusion, thirty years after she wrote this book, are staggering. We have marched together, in folly and into tragedy, before. 

The fourth question is mine close in, local, now: How do our civil sector communities, of faith, labor and education, help us all to redefine self-interest moving from death-seeking commodification of everything and extreme pursuit of profit and consumption to regenerative and life-seeking work, culture and politics, available to all of us and to a new understanding of humans, unique within but not superior to nature, part of the great web of Creation process, emerging in Earth story, subject to the laws of physics and biology but also capable of reflecting upon the entire universe, helping the universe, if you will reflect upon itself.


[1] Simon & Shuster, 2014

[2] Harper/Collins, 2012

[3] Random House, 1984. Tuchman was one of the most thoughtful and relevant historians in this country from 1956 through the mid-l980s.


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Three Women, Three Books, Four Questions (by EcoFaith Leader Dick Harmon)
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