Thursday, September 24, 2015

Gaia for the perplexed

New School hosted the prophet of a new religion today, the author of Dark Green Religion: Nature Spirituality and the Planetary Future (2010). I thought since we're an academic institution (and he's in religious studies) that he'd dwell on the "dark" side of emerging environmental consciousness, as promised in his book (an excerpt below) but it was pretty much all rainbows and butterflies. True,
he started with Val Plumwood's liberating discovery (when she was nearly killed by a crocodile) that she was "prey," but there seemed no downside to people who combined borrowed and invented rituals with romantic conceptions of wilderness, so long as all was undergirded by a naturalistic appreciation of interdependence. While I appreciate his insistence that many folks who consider themselves "spiritual but not religious" in fact behave a lot like the "religions" from which they claim to have freed themselves, he let his "dark green religion" types off easy because they're grounded in world-affirming science rather than life-negating monotheism, their anthropomorphisms comparatively harmless because of scientific humility. I like the biosphere as much as the next person, but as a religious studies person I'm unsatisfied by any account of a religious movement's growing solely because it's, well, true. Why these formulations here (worldwide - really?) and why now?

No comments: