Environment: 3 Ways a Place can Have an Impact on your Well Being

Grounding Religion. A field Guide to the Study of religion and Ecology.
Edited by Whitney Bauman, Richard Bohannon and Kevin J. O’Brien.
Routledge, 2017, $32.70 paperback ISBN-10: 1138194018 ISBN-13: 978-1138194014
reviewed by Drs. Susanne van Doorn

environment
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#1: Environment the Power of Place

When I visited Stonehenge last summer, I felt the power of place. The stones, grey and giant, were statements of Mother Earth. How I longed to enter this sacred circle. You are only allowed to do that when you pay big money.

environment
Stonehenge
Photo: Jurgen van Nijnanten

Why was I so overwhelmed? First of all the stones where huge (sometimes size does matter). Second of all, the energy of the place felt like a sanctuary.

“The mapping of the sacred is always a mapping of social power… Sacred places mark “hierarchical power relations of domination and subordination, inclusion and exclusion, appropriation and dispossession” (page 104).

It was only after reading this book that I could get a grip on how many aspects are involved in the intertwining of Ecology and Environment.

environment
Cartoon: McHumour.com

I selected this book for a Mindfunda review because I was intrigued by the fact that religion is grounded in a specific place. Sacred Geography by Paul Devereux was the first book I read about it. The book Paul has written takes a shamanic perspective.

Grounding Religion is a book, aimed at students. I had not realized that when I requested the review copy. But I enjoyed this book and learned a lot.

It is written in an easy accessible language and has some interesting questions in each chapter that will enrich your way of thinking even if you have left college decades ago just like me.

 

Or as Thomas J. Watson said: “The Ability to ask the right Question is more than half the battle of finding the answer

 

 

#2: Ecology

Did you know that Ernst Haeckel, A German biologist, coined the term Ecology? He is also the first one who envisioned the evolution of species as “a Tree of Life“.

 

environment
Tree of Life
Haeckel

This book offers sixteen chapters divided over three parts. Part one is concerned about giving definitions. And as in many cases finding the one right definition for a concept is not possible. But the discussion in the book informs you of all the aspects involved in religion and ecology.

Part two makes things a little more personal. This part does not focus on the general definitions but on gender, on race and on the power of place.

Part three explores the Key Features like globalization and its devastating effects, animals technology and so on.

After reading this book, I felt like it opened a whole new concept of inter-relations for me. You as reader get a clear view on the multitude of variables that play a role in concepts regarding the environment.

 

#3: Environment Dreams Merapi Volcano

Each chapter discusses a case study. One of the most appealing case studies in my eyes is that of the Merapi Volcano.

Merapi volcano
Art: Raden Saleh

 

The Merapi Volcano is situated on the pacific “ring of fire”. Three of the major plates: the Eurasian, the Australian and the Pacific ocean plate. It is the so called “supermarket of disasters”.

“The interesting case is how science, religion and culture interpret these natural events differently, creating different and frequently conflicting approaches to deal with them” (page 51).

Mbah Maridjan was the spiritual gatekeeper who talked to the spirit of the volcano. In 2010 he was found death, killed by the hot ashes of the erupting volcano.

The BBC wrote about it on its website: “To us, Maridjan is as important as Merapi. Now that he’s no longer around, who’s going to look after Merapi?” Wanto, 56, a farmer, told AFP news agency.

The case study of this chapter contains an interview with Sumarno, a man who has the ability to hear the messages from the mountain. He describes a typical dream he gets before the volcano erupts.

“Me: Can you tell me why you have never moved away from your village during the eruption? Don’t you fear death?
Sumarno: I believe that anybody can die at anywhere, anytime…. I am always told in a dream what to do before the Merapi erupts.
Me: Who told you? The spirit of Merapi?
Sumarno: Usually an old man in a pious Muslim outfit (baja koko)… They come to me mostly after prayer (shalt).
Me: Merapi volcano is different from other volcanoes because it is extremely active, The dead people’s souls are taken by Merapi; they are working for Merapi*.

*I only quoted a only selected fragment of the text. Me refers to the writer of this chapter “Religion and Disaster: The Merapi volcano eruption” Najiyah Martiam

Your Environment: Conclusions

PRO

  • The book offers some nice questions that makes you re-evalute your surroundings. For instance: Does nature teach morality? and as writer Lomborg has suggested in The Skeptical Environmentalist: might the solution(s) to environmental problems we experienced today be embedded within technology? And isn’t it about time that theology reconsiders their view on animals?
  • I can only conclude that this book will trigger your mind. The assignments for students are appealing and all the books mentioned will make your book-loving heart sing.

The Death of Nature, by Carolyn Merchant shows how the dichotomy inherent in our culture has been an inheritance of the 16th century vision of the brute environment with the civilized culture on top of it.

On Animals by David Clough reconsiders the place of animals in Christian Theology.

Landscapes of the Sacred written by Belden Lane invites us to use our personal experiences to highlight “sensory exchanges” between places and people.

And these are just some examples. Each chapter is filled with numerous good references to interesting books.

  • The book is very easy to read. No difficult, dry definitions you’d have to plough through and re-read before you can understand what it is that the withers want to say;
  • The case studies are very interesting.

CON

  • It’s a book aimed at students. Even though it means that you get value for money: a lot of information about all the aspects concerning the inter-connectiveness of earth and religion.

 


THIS CONTENT IS CREATED BY SUSANNE VAN DOORN, AUTHOR AND OWNER OF MINDFUNDA; MAKING THE FUNDAMENTALS OF PSYCHOLOGY, MYTHOLOGY AND SPIRITUALITY EASY TO USE IN YOUR PERSONAL LIFE!

What is Mindfunda about?

My name is Susanne van Doorn, I am a Dutch psychologist, blogger and author. I have been working with psychology, dreams and mythology ever since I finished my study in psychology at Tilburg University. I made this independent site to share insights, and recent scientific articles about the brain, dreams, and mythology for use in your personal life.

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Mother Earth as Goddess

Do you consider yourself a Goddess? You should. The Goddess is the earth. We are all part of the earth. But the Goddess is more. She is also that spiritual vessel that brings love in new unexpected ways. She is connected with the moon. This week’s Mindfunda is about dreaming with the goddess, incubating dreams that align with the phase of the moon. Find out how you can dream the Goddess into your live!

Mindfunda explores the Goddess in 4 blogs

The Goddess was hot in the seventies of last century. Marija Gimbutas put the Goddess back on the map. She inspired a lot of scientists, anthropologists and mythologists up to this day. But the attention for the Goddess seems to have faded away. Mindfunda want to invite you to reconnect with the Goddess. During the month of November Mindfunda will share 5 blogs:

The Goddess, 4 blogs to integrate the Goddess in your life.

Eve as Goddess: a Guest blog written by Susan Scott, of the Garden of Eden.

Triple Goddess dreaming: an alliance with the moon.

The Goddess and the Earth: a Guest blog written by Trista Hendren

A review of “The Book of She” written by Sara Avant Stover.

< Jumped in from elsewhere? Start at part 1

Today’s Guest blog is written by Trista Hendren. She is the author of The Girl God series. You can read more about her projects at The girl god.

earth
Trista Hendren

 

Mother Earth as Goddess by Trista Hendren

It took me a long time to understand the connections between the rape and abuse of women worldwide and the rape and abuse of Mother Earth.

My children changed all of that.

I realized I couldn’t leave them the world I had helped create. So, I started changing my life radically, reducing my expenses by 80% and getting rid of all non-essentials. I started writing feminist children’s books that I hoped all people, young and old, would read. Madeline L’Engle once said, “If I have something that is too difficult for adults to swallow, I will write it in a book for children.” This still rings true today.

Our children are our biggest impetus for change.

In order to change the world, we have to go back to our roots. Feminism can be helpful but it can also be just a band aid. It can be a diversion from realizing our full value as human beings.

There was a time when women were sacred. We have lost that on a collective level. You don’t rape the sacred. You don’t abuse the sacred. You honor Her.

When you honor something or someone, you don’t take more than you need or more than your fair share. Women have been giving more than their fair share in almost every aspect of life for at least 2,000 years.

A natural relationship is about give and take. The same can be said of the Earth. Humanity on the whole has been taking without giving back. We can’t continue along that path without destroying ourselves and the Earth.

I see so many connections between women and Mother Earth. I don’t think we can honor and respect one without the other. When I started to honor myself, I began acting on my environmental ideals.

 

earth
picture: esophora.org

 

One example I use is hair dye. I stopped dying my hair several years ago because I realized I was poisoning the earth. I was also poisoning the people who made this toxic product.  I was also poisoning myself every time I colored my hair. And the crazy thing is that silver hair is actually a sign of wisdom (which is also another attribute or name for GODDESS). Why are most women so eager to hide a symbol of their intelligence at such a high all-around cost? Why are we suppressing Goddess in ourselves?

We are so brainwashed to do things a certain way as to be acceptable to others that we don’t think through the consequences. Sometimes I think people like the idea of environmentalism or feminism, but they don’t want to go all the way with either concept.

The way I see it, we are at a tipping point with both. Either we make radical changes or we will see even more violence against women and girls.  We will see the Earth destroyed.  And with environmental destruction, it is often poor women and children of color who pay the highest price.

What are we really hanging on to?

We are scared into (toxic) lifestyles, many of which destroy the Earth and come at a very high cost to poor people, particularly women. My hope is people will begin to challenge what items are necessary and come back to honoring Our First Mother, Earth.

earth
Mother Earth
Trista Hendren

My second book, Mother Earth, is about our relationship to Mother Earth and it was inspired by my children. My nine-year-old daughter in particular is becoming a true environmentalist.

She is both magical and inquisitive. She likes to understand the ins and outs of everything. She can’t understand why more people are not working harder to save the Earth. Her voice echoes in my head as I try to sleep at night.

“But why Mommy? Why?”

Sometimes I don’t have any good answers. We try to live the best we can. We sold our car and walk everywhere most days. But, she wonders about all the other cars lined up on the street as we walk by. She worries. Recently she told me she didn’t think she would live to be 35 because of global warming.

I don’t want my daughter—or any child—to live in fear over what adults have created. Zoe Weil said that “the world becomes what you teach” and she called on adults to raise a generation of “Solutionaries.”

My daughter inspires me every day to leave the world in a better place. I hope my books will inspire both compassion and confidence in our children so that they can become Solutionaries instead of feeling powerless.

earth
image: org.ca.gov

 

I’d like to end by sharing a passage that inspires me to live a more Earth-loving life every day. I heard that there was not a dry eye in the room when Professor Kathleen Dean Moore read these lines from her essay, “The Call to Forgiveness at the End of the Day.” I still cannot read her words without tearing up. Her inspiring words were the introduction to Mother Earth.

Professor Moore wrote:

Poets warned us, writing of the heartbreaking beauty that will remain when there is no heart to break for it. But what if it is worse than that? What if it’s the heartbroken children who remain in a world without beauty? How will they find solace in a world without wild music? How will they thrive without green hills edged with oaks? How will they forgive us for letting frog-song slip away? When my granddaughter looks back at me, I will be on my knees, begging her to say I did all I could.

I didn’t do all I could have done.

It isn’t enough to love a child and wish her well. It isn’t enough to open my heart to a bird-graced morning. Can I claim to love a morning if I don’t protect what creates its beauty? Can I claim to love a child if I don’t use all the power of my beating heart to preserve a world that nourishes children’s joy? Loving is not a kind of la-de-da.

Loving is a sacred trust. To love is to affirm the absolute worth of what you love and to pledge your life to its thriving—to protect it fiercely and faithfully, for all time.

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THIS CONTENT IS CREATED BY SUSANNE VAN DOORN, AUTHOR AND OWNER OF MINDFUNDA; MAKING THE FUNDAMENTALS OF PSYCHOLOGY, MYTHOLOGY AND SPIRITUALITY EASY TO USE IN YOUR PERSONAL LIFE!

What is Mindfunda about?

My name is Susanne van Doorn, I am a Dutch psychologist, blogger and author. I have been working with psychology, dreams and mythology ever since I finished my study in psychology at Tilburg University. I made this independant site to share insights, and recent scientific articles about the brain, dreams, and mythology for use in your personal life.

This posting is categorised as Mythofunda:
“Myths are public dreams, dreams are private myths” Joseph Campbell used to say. This part of Mindfunda shows you how your personal mythology can create peace in your life.

Read more about Mindfunda here, or visit our Courses Page.


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