Monday, October 16, 2006

Some Reading

Like I said, I started Hegemony or through Chapter 2 and decided to wait until some other folks could pick up the book as conversation partners. I'll try to post thoughts here from time to time. Perhaps we'll get going again with this by the end of the month?

In the meantime, Mike let me borrow some good-looking books: How (Not) to Speak of God, Post-Rapture Radio, Free of Charge, and The Comforting Whirlwind. I am excited about all of them...and am doubley excited because I have not bought a book in so long (inspired by Nate's vow) and I keep coming upon them via friends. Ahh.

Anyways, I just finished The Comforting Whirlwind: God, Job, and the Scale of Creation by Bill McKibben. Great book for understanding the purposefulness of the wilderness. And I don't use that word meaning some time of spiritual dryness or wandering in life...I mean actual wilderness. He is a wonderful naturist / Methodist Sunday school teacher who uses the book of Job to help situate ourselves as humans in the larger story. He speaks about how we are but a part of the Great Story...not the focal point. Simple enough, but the implications are heavy.

He explains how Job's friends were continually repeating the same old lines, just with growing intensity...the same orthodoxy, as he says. They said, "God is just. He rewards the good. Therefore, you must be bad, Job." And that was that. Job brought a new "fact" into the conversation, of course...that he had been good...and was not being rewarded. He uses this conversation dynamic to explain the situation we are in now where people are saying things like, "The Earth will repair herself infinitely. We can use and throw away whatever we however we want." And then he brings in the new "facts" that we must consider.

He attacks the theologies and philosophies of "more" that have led us to the place we are at now, where we can never learn to be content in what he calls, "simple elegance". And he offers some challenging ideas for what we might do to live better, more in rhythm with Creator and creation.

A quote from the end of the book...

And of [our] gifts, the most unique and the most paradoxical is the ability to restrain ourselves. Conscious self-restraint belongs to no other creature, and for us it is the hardest of all tasks, both as individuals and as societies... Can we wean ourselves from cheap fossil fuel? Can we ignore the easy path? Can we muster the discipline to learn what we really want, and to follow that desire unwaveringly?

Let's hope that we can...and let's lead the way in doing it.


Daley Hake said...

Hegemony or Survival looks interesting.
let me know if you get some people together to dig into it.
would be interested in tagging along.

Anonymous said...

...that quote is quite yogic,- - - in yoga practice the idea is to embody the "yamas" (outer observances) and the "niyamas" (inner observances) of the yamas is APARIGRAHA, or "non-grasping, not coveting", and a niyama is SANTOSHA, or "contentment"....

just a little sanskrit for pondering.....


Andrew Greenhalgh said...

I'll be really interested to hear your thoughts on "How (Not) to Speak of God". I got done with that not too long ago and really enjoyed it! Good stuff..Hope y'all are doing okay getting adjusted to parental life, by the way!

s.o said...

I just finished McKibben's book (which I picked up because you were reading it ... it just took me 5 months longer to finish!)

I really enjoyed it. I'm hoping people comment on it over at

check it out, and throw some banter about how you've understood it ... now 5 months later.
For instance, do you think McKibben went far enough? Was he still too gentle with our orthodoxy? (I mean, is he missing the more drastic necessity of very simple living?) your thoughts?