Reposted from Amazon
This is a 6 star book (my top 10% across the 98 categories in which I read), and I consider it a book to be stunningly effective. At the age of 61 with no pensions on top of a rich life, I have found myself in unemployment over several years, and as this book so powerfully suggests, this may have been the best possible state for me at this point in time. I specifically recommend the book as a gift for any unemployed person, but I also consider it essential reading for any entering class of college students.
The author is extremely well-read in this domain, and the book is priceless for the combination of her insights and the manner in which she weaves many other selections into the work.
Perhaps by coincidence, perhaps not, I have read this book at a time when I have also been exploring the Jesuit tradition of discernment, seeking to center myself on a combination of where I can be most authentic and helpful to the larger community of man, and where God wants me to be. Never too late to ask that question, but I do believe that those questions have been with me since I first learned the Latin mass in Colombia in the 1960’s. I also believe this one book to be the single most powerful book I have read in the past decade, in relation to focusing my soul so as to better focus my mind and body.
This is not a religious book, if anything it is a gnostic spiritual guide, far removed from dogma, celebrating both the holy individuality of each person — each soul — and the utter absolute need of every soul for community — for being spiritual in community, as one with others and one with the Earth.
As an intelligence (decision-support) professional, I will begin my summary review with the flash of inspiration I found on page 161, 13 pages from the end of the book:
QUOTE (161) Citing Clarissa Pinkola Estes “Asking the right question is the central act of transformation.”
AHA! Could it be that intelligence professionals, in striving to answer the questions they have received from their clients (generally, corrupt politicians and myopic corporate chiefs), have been upside down and inside out? Could it be the acme of skill for the intelligence professional of the 21st Century is to guide their clients into asking the right questions, the holistic questions, the questions that embrace true cost economics and a full appreciation for all forms of life, not just the 1%?
I had been side-stepping up to this conclusion with some earlier work on the urgency of integrating education, intelligence (decision-support) and research & development to create Smart Nations, but this book from page one has hit me in a most favorable manner.
The author makes four points throughout the book:
01 The Industrial Era is collapsing.
02 Apocalypse understood in its root term means revelation not “the end”
03 The primary salvation in this context is spiritual, not material. The rest of the book makes this point deeply, broadly, and fulfillingly. This is emphasized over and over — whatever solutions we might contrive in the face of collapse, they will not be technical, but rather spiritual. Buckminster Fuller was on this path from a different perspective, I certainly recommend in this context two of his many books,
Guinea Pig B: The 56 Year Experiment and Ideas and Integrities: A Spontaneous Autobiographical Disclosure. I cannot help but be reminded of Paul Straussman (Jesuit-trained, former Director of Defense Information] saying “Information Technology makes bad management worse.” Absent spiritual coherence, technology is digging us an ever deeper grave.
04 The whole point of human existence is to learn from death and be re-born — collapse of the toxic is an essential pre-requisite to birth of something purer, more holistic, more lasting.
The second layer of persistent reasoning is consistent with the points made by Lionel Tiger in The Manufacture Of Evil: Ethics, Evolution, and the Industrial System — in commoditizing humans and forcing humans, alone among all living creatures, to “earn a living” inside a little box designed by the 1% to enrich the 1% and impoverish (exploit) the 99%, what the Industrial Era has done is poison the Earth, our chalice, and diminish our souls — the spirit.
A few quotes and highlights from this heavily marked book:
QUOTE (5): “…this time of massive unemployment creates space in our lives that allows us to prepare for a future of permanent unemployment.”
+ In the next culture (post-collapse) spiritual employment will displace financial employment as the central focus
+ Industrial “civilization” is inherently traumatizing — inherently abusive of society, community, humanity, and the individual.
+ In the face of collapse, physical fitness and spiritual coherence are vastly more important than a transient stock of goods in the basement.
QUOTE (40): “When a culture falls apart, and when people fall apart, culture centers everything”
+ The author is effective in pointing out that both the New Age mentality and the “positive attitude” shyster-spin are counter-effective. Humans are not perfect, being passive about collapse blocks learning, and yes, gender matters — the feminist perspective is ESSENTIAL to restoring our soul and recovering our harmonization with the earth. [I am struck by the coincidence of these insights and those of the new Pope — search online for < Francis, Jesuit & Pope: Happy, Open, Thinking, Women on His Mind (Need for a Theology of Women) >.
QUOTE (56): Citing Derrick Jensen in Endgame (not clear which volume), “Any economic system that does not benefit the natural communities on which it is based is unsustainable, immoral, and really stupid.”
QUOTE (62): “No other form of life on the planet knows negativity, only humans, just as no other form of life violates and poisons the earth that sustains it.”
+ While I lean toward Libertarian (as a recovering sane Republican who now sees the deep corruption of the two parties that bar all others from electoral participation) the author’s emphasis on the need for balance between individual liberty and community cohesion strikes me as a stake in the heart of Libertarian thought, something to be reflected on.
QUOTE (73): “The American dream is a mixed story: in part, a story of genocide, racism, classicism, geo-political and resource imperialism, exceptionalism, and entitlement–as well as a set of [anti-] humanitarian assumptions about what constitutes a rich quality of life.”
+ Citing Charles Eisenstein, whose Sacred Economics: Money, Gift, and Society in the Age of Transition I have reviewed here at Amazon, the author devotes a chapter to debt as a cancer, with a gift economy being the alternative.
The first half of the book concludes with two chapters on the dumbing down and infantilization of our Western culture. However, the first half ends optimistically — collapse has been described by indigenous cultures as a purification process, and the author ends on that note.
The second half of the book consists of 51 short essays that take-off from one or two quotes. While once could certainly read them one at a time, I found them to be as substantive as the first half of the book, and best consumed in the same seating. It is in the second half of the book that the author explores the revelation side of apocalypse and the “ask the right question” aspect of spirituality.
The second half ends strongly with thoughts I first read — but did not fully appreciate — in the 1970’s, focused on the urgency of being one with nature, integrating nature, respecting nature. I am reminded of so many books from that era, which was also the era that forecast the limits to growth, peak oil, water deprivation, and so on. Herbert Marcuse stands out in my memory.
This book is part of a Sacred Activism series with three other titles I am moved to link to:
Earth Calling: A Climate Change Handbook for the 21st Century (Sacred Activism)
Occupy Spirituality: A Radical Vision for a New Generation (Sacred Activism)
The More Beautiful World Our Hearts Know Is Possible (Sacred Activism)