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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.

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Robert Ingersoll asks “Which Way”

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Robert Ingersoll, the most popular lecturer of the nineteenth century, presented a new freethought lecture called “Which Way” in the 1880s.  It brings up some interesting points for our day.

His primary question is threefold “How shall we civilize the world?  How shall we protect, life, liberty, property and reputations?  How shall we do away with crime and poverty?”  There was hope in the late nineteenth century that these questions might find answers.  The events of the last one hundred and thirty years suggest otherwise.

Ingersoll points out the lack of success of “the churches” in answering these questions.  He spends a lot of time on the God portrayed in Genesis.  Did this God advise or instruct his new human beings?  No, he just said “You shall not eat of this tree.”  Did he forgive and comfort when they sinned?  No, he punished them. 

He asks, “Are we to be governed by a Supernatural Being, or are we to govern ourselves?”  The answer is obvious to him. “I take the democratic side,” he says.  That “Supernatural Being” is a figure called on by tyrants and despots, princes and popes, to support the status quo.  

Ingersoll doesn’t go as far as we might today to show how the God those rulers called on to maintain their power was made after their own image.  He doesn’t need to because not just some, but most of his audience had been raised to believe that Genesis is history; that the punishing God is the only option.  In Ingersoll’s day good people still believed that the fear of hell helped to preserve social order.  Ingersoll disagrees: 

There is no reforming power in fear.  You can scare a man, maybe, so bad that he won’t do a thing, but you can’t scare him so bad he won’t want to do it.  There is no reforming power in punishment or brute force.

That’s one lesson we as a community have not learned to this day.  We also have made no progress, perhaps have even gone backward, in this:

You may ask me what I want.  Well, in the first place I want to get theology out of government.  It has no business there.  Man gets his authority from man, and is responsible only to man.  I want to get theology out of politics.  Our ancestors in 1776 retired God from politics, because of the jealousies among the churches, and the result has been splendid for mankind.  I want to get theology out of education.  Teach the children what somebody knows, not what somebody guesses. 

Robert Ingersoll was intensely patriotic.  I believe he would be quite discouraged to see how little progress our nation has made in these matters since his time.  Which way should we turn to find a solution to our present situation?

 

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