Log24

Monday, October 21, 2002

Monday October 21, 2002

Filed under: General — Tags: — m759 @ 12:01 AM

Birthdays for a Small Planet

Today's birthdays:

The entry below, "Theology for a Small Planet," sketches an issue that society has failed to address since the fall of 1989, when it was first raised by the Harvard Divinity Bulletin.

In honor mainly of Ursula K. Le Guin, but also of her fellow authors above, I offer Le Guin's solution. It is not new. It has been ignored mainly because of the sort of hateful and contemptible arrogance shown by

  • executives in the tradition of Henry Ford and later Ford Foundation and Ford Motors employees McGeorge Bundy and Robert McNamara (see yesterday's entry below for Ford himself), by
  • theologians in the tradition of the Semitic religions — Judaism, Christianity, and Islam — and by
  • self-proclaimed "shamans of scientism" like Michael Shermer in the tradition of Scientific American magazine.

Here is an introduction to the theology that should replace the ridiculous and outdated Semitic religions.

According to Le Guin,

"Scholarly translators of the Tao Te Ching, as a manual for rulers, use a vocabulary that emphasizes the uniqueness of the Taoist 'sage,' his masculinity, his authority. This language is perpetuated, and degraded, in most popular versions. I wanted a Book of the Way accessible to a present-day, unwise, unpowerful, and perhaps unmale reader, not seeking esoteric secrets, but listening for a voice that speaks to the soul. I would like that reader to see why people have loved the book for 2500 years.

It is the most lovable of all the great religious texts, funny, keen, kind, modest, indestructibly outrageous and inexhaustibly refreshing. Of all the deep springs, this is the purest water. To me it is also the deepest spring."

Tao Te Ching: Chapter 6
translated by Ursula K. Le Guin

The valley spirit never dies
Call it the mystery, the woman.

The mystery,
the Door of the Woman,
is the root
of earth and heaven.

Forever this endures, forever.
And all its uses are easy.

Monday October 21, 2002

Filed under: General — Tags: — m759 @ 12:00 AM

Theology for a Small Planet

THE HARVARD DIVINITY BULLETIN for Fall 1989 contained a special section, "Theology for a Small Planet," with a number of short articles by divinity school faculty and others addressing environment and theology.

From The Harvard Divinity Bulletin, XIX, 3 (1989):

" While Angels Weep…"
Doing Theology on a Small Planet

Timothy C. Weiskel
© Copyright, 1989, Timothy C. Weiskel

…We continue to strut and prance about with a sense of supreme self-importance as if all creation were put in place for our benefit….

From where does such arrogance come? How can our beliefs be so far out of touch with our knowledge? How can we maintain such an inflated sense of personal, collective and species self-importance? ….

The answer, in part, is that Western religious traditions have generated and sustained this petty arrogance…. 

Western cultures have come to believe religiously in their own power, importance and capacity to dominate and control nature.

Some religious groups have transcribed and elaborated creation myths which serve to ennoble and authorize this illusion of domination. In these myths a supreme and omnipotent God figure (usually portrayed as male) is said to have created humankind and enjoined this species to be "fruitful and multiply" and "subdue" the earth. Moreover, it is often a feature of these traditions that selected human groups come to feel entitled, empowered or specially ordained by such a God to be his "chosen people." Through their actions and history, it is believed, this God allegedly manifested his intent for the planet as a whole. In short, human groups created God in their own image and generated divine narratives that accorded themselves privileged status in the whole of creation….

…science itself has become the cornerstone of modern mankind's religiously held belief in human control. In our era, this kind of arrogant science, like the self-important religious traditions of the past, must be questioned….

In short, we all stand in need of a theology for a small planet.

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