Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Do people want to do the right environmental thing or make money?

Lester R. Brown asks in his essay, "Ecopsychology and the Environmental Revolution" in the book, Ecopsychology: Restoring The Earth, Healing The Mind, "Do we believe people want to do the right environmental thing? Do we believe people care about the future of the living planet? Ecopsychologists believe there is an emotional bond between human beings and the natural environment out of which we evolve." p. xvi

I think Brown puts his last sentence in the quote a bit clumsily. There is no emotional bond between human beings and the natural environment because human beings are part of the natural environment whether they like it or not because of the air they breath, the water they drink, the ground they pee and shit on.

As James Hillman writes in the next essay in the same book, "A Psyche the Size of the Earth," "Psychology, so dedicated to awakening the human consciousness, needs to wake itself up to one of the most ancient human truths: we cannot be studied or cured apart from the planet." p. xxii

This month, July, 2014, we will be reading and discussing Barbara Kingsolver's book, Flight Behavior, which grapples with these theological and psychological questions in the microcosm of the life of the Turnbow family in the Appalachian mountains of Tennesee. Here is a blurb from the Amazon web site:

Flight Behavior is a brilliant and suspenseful novel set in present day Appalachia; a breathtaking parable of catastrophe and denial that explores how the complexities we inevitably encounter in life lead us to believe in our particular chosen truths. Kingsolver's riveting story concerns a young wife and mother on a failing farm in rural Tennessee who experiences something she cannot explain, and how her discovery energizes various competing factions—religious leaders, climate scientists, environmentalists, politicians—trapping her in the center of the conflict and ultimately opening up her world. Flight Behavior is arguably Kingsolver's must thrilling and accessible novel to date, and like so many other of her acclaimed works, represents contemporary American fiction at its finest.

The key event in Flight Behavior is the arrival of Monarch butterflies for a winter roost in the Turnbow woods when they normally go to Mexico where their habitat has been destroyed by  symptoms of climate change.

Flight Behavior deals with elements of theology, psychology, sociology, ecology, biology and raises issues of our care of the planet, our Mother Earth, which we all must face if not in as an immediate and dramatic way.

I hope you will read along and comment throughout the month. This novel raises many questions and insights into Unitarian Universalist values.


  1. I am a big Barbara Kingsolver fan and it is hard to chose which of her books I like the best, but Flight Behavior is way up there. I am looking forward to this month's discussion and I hope many people will participate because the theme of the book fits so well with the seventh principle about the interdependent web.

    If Kingssolver's book makes emotional the issue of climate change maybe people who read it will resonate at a deeper level with the ongoing climate change we are experiencing.

  2. Americans don't like to think about the death of the environment and other species any more than they like to think about their own death. They are in denial for the most part, and the politicians and corporations are not going to save them in spite of their infantile wishes. They just turn to hyper capitalism, materialism, fame, power, whatever their current mood altering addiction is.

    As Franklin Roosevelt said during the depression, "the greatest fear is fearing fear itself" in our current age the greatest fear is fearing our denial of climate change and not preparing for the cataclysmic changes that will be necessary when our sea coast cities are under water, and desertification increases.

    How can we profess respect for the interdependent web when species are being extinguished by the thousands every year never again to be a part of that web on earth?

    What we need is a collective awakening, and changes in our current policies of how we are making money, doing business, and meeting our basic human needs, not wants, but needs.

    Thank you for this book discussion. I am hoping great things will come from it.