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Recommendation: From Egos to Eden

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Van Ham Book 001Lee Van Ham’s From Egos to Eden is a big book about a very big topic: keeping earth livable for humanity.  If that turns your mind to issues of cutting back, doing without and judgmentalism, put them aside.  This book will guide you into another approach entirely.  It is about growing into broader consciousness, growing from ego control to a larger sense of self, entering – or continuing – a journey toward what Van Ham calls One-earth Living.

This is not a how-to book.  We each have our own journey to undertake.  There is a bit of deception in the title.  Absorbing the concepts in this book will set you on a rich journey toward Eden, but it can’t take you all the way.  That is up to you.

The idea of an inward/outward journey is some decades old.  I remember trying to lead a church peacemaking group in which I could not get others to understand why the program we were using called for ten minutes of silence before getting to the business of the meeting.  It made sense to me.  The idea that we must work on our own issues while we address those of the external world underlies From Egos to Eden.  To address that Van Ham uses Jungian terminology, revises old mythologies, and offers a number of cognitive maps.

We humans have a choice of working with our earth to meet the needs of all or destroying it to supply our wants.  The topic is urgent because the current state of society is leaning strongly toward the latter.

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Thinking About “Stuff”

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I have been reading posts from Jubilee Economics and Simple Living Works, so I decided to try listening to their podcasts (See http://www.jubilee-economics.org/podcast/tag/common-cause).  I recently listened to Number 28, which focused on “Stuff” and reducing our stuff.

I was disappointed.  Gerald Iverson’s main example of reducing stuff involved moving to a retirement home.  He and his wife did very well to reduce their “stuff” down to 30 percent of what they had.

But downsizing for retirement, or moving into a care community is as much pressure from conditions as it is a choice.  It’s part of the life cycle, and seems almost to justify a cycle that goes: acquire, acquire, acquire, then divest, divest.

When my husband and I moved to a smaller retirement home, we calculate that we reduced our “stuff” by about 50 percent.  A few years ago I began to wonder how to do more.  This is partly due to the expectation that I will eventually have to move to a continuing care facility apartment, and to the feeling, “I don’t want to leave this for the kids to deal with.”  But I also wonder what justice really calls for.

The question of justice arises from Lee Van Ham’s “One Earth Project,” which demonstrates that while we claim to understand that there is only one earth, our society operates as if there were five.  Check the link in my blogroll, on the right of the page.

Three years ago I decided to try getting rid of one thing for each day in Lent.  Including Sundays that means 49 items, rounded up to 50.  It turned out to be easy.  I was way over the number before Holy Week arrived.  So the next year I tried again.  It was a little more work, but I had a bookshelf I could turn into a display area, and my storage was much less crowded.

This past Lent I tried again.  It was getting more difficult.  I decided to count folders of old records I discarded (in the category of the things the children won’t have to deal with that’s good, but it doesn’t help anyone else, as gifts to thrift shops and worthy-cause rummage sales do.)  I realized, afterward, that I had hit a psychological snag.  What was the point of giving away things that would leave a gap on the shelf, or an empty space in the china cupboard?  Since I can’t assume that someone will find these items to be just what they want and buy used instead of new, why not let them sit?

I need to do some thinking about this and I was hoping the Common Good Podcast would give me some new insights.  Maybe they’ll take this up again.

Recommendation: One Earth Project

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One earth?  Of course we all live on one earth, don’t we?  Yet, we don’t acknowledge this is all our actions.  Do we consume more than our share?  Are we depleting resources?  These questions have been around for a long time, without bringing people to new understandings of the place of humans on the earth.  Notice that I speak of “understandings” here, not of actions.  Action follows from belief structures.

Myths and religions grow up together.  Myths may have multiple meanings.  Religious leaders try to narrow them down.

I believe that sacred texts are meant to be encountered anew by each generation, each devout reader.  But we come to them with preconceptions, conditioning.  There’s the conditioning of our upbringing in Sunday School, perhaps.  But an even stronger influence may be the conditioning we have acquired from the society we live in.  Going back to reexamine our sacred text and to rethink meanings which have been handed down is a true spiritual quest.  It is how prophets are made.

Purple Mat

I put here a new picture of the purple mat in my yard.  Notice the curved edge beside it.  That is a 12” round stepping stone that provides a sense of scale for this small plant.  You have to be watching for it to see it.  This is a good metaphor for the voices of prophets in our midst.  You have to be listening for those voices, but they are there.  One such voice can be found on Lee Van Ham’s blog, The One Earth Project.  Lee has rethought some very old stories in Genesis, the story of Eden and of Cain and Abel.  His interpretations give new insight for people trying to relearn what seems in our day almost a lost art: to be one with the created world instead of using and, in some cases, abusing it.  And to stop living as if we had multiple earths to supply our needs.

Click on One Earth Project in the blogroll on the right of this page.  See where Lee’s thinking is taking him now.