In today’s reading of Nature’s Way, we learn that Lion teaches gender equality and that indigenous thought favors pluralism. We are all “one among many… each an essential connection in the web of life.”
NOTE TO STUDENTS: Still waiting to hear from some of you regarding your midterm presentation topics. Send that along ASAP. Today Colin leads off with a report on land use in Appalachia.* Also today, expect a visitor bearing treats. She may be able to tell us something about the circle of life that’s also a tree, too.
We’ll plan to continue on Wednesday with Harrison on the “non-prevalence of supernatural perspectives on native wisdom/mythology,”Willie on “trance-based knowledge and spirituality in the context of globalisation,” and Jason on “how the fundamental ideas of religion are supported by math & science.”
Then, Kayla, Kevin, Paul, Garrett, and Connor on topics they’ve not yet declared.
Also noteworthy: have you listened to “Krista Tippett on Being” (formerly known as “Speaking of Faith”)? She often explores the intersection of environmentalism and spirituality, most recently with “Planting the Future”: “A remarkable Kenyan woman and environmentalist speaks from experience about the links between ecology, human flourishing, war and peace, and democracy. And she shares her thoughts on where God resides.” A while back she did “Architecture of Decency,” about “creating beautiful and economical structures that are unique in the world — and that nurture sustainability of the natural world as of human dignity” in west Alabama. “Land, Life, and the Poetry of Creatures” discusses “a new approach to thinking about human domination of the Earth and its creatures… our collective grief at destruction of the natural world and… a ‘chastened’ yet ‘tenacious’ hope.” The show is addictive, like TED Talks… one of which she also recently did: “Reconnecting with Compassion“.
One more thing: Exam #1 is a week from today. I suggest looking over the old quizzes, from which 20 objective-format questions will be drawn.
*Possibly related to Colin’s report: mountaintop removal. (Check out this video… could Google Earth’s eye in the sky be the fulfillment of Black Elk’s vision?)
Those of us who protest mountaintop removal do it for the environment, but we’re also fighting to prove we are not unwarranted burdens. Our water and air are being poisoned, but the most dangerous toxin is the message that people don’t matter.
People do. And the thing is, real lions don’t seem to me to have all that much regard for people of either gender. Maybe we’ve all been Disneyfied by Simba et al.
Maybe Huxley was right.
For his successful progress, throughout the savage state, man has been largely indebted to those qualities which he shares with the ape and the tiger; his exceptional physical organization; his cunning, his sociability, his curiosity, and his imitativeness; his ruthless and ferocious destructiveness when his anger is roused by opposition. But, in proportion as men have passed from anarchy to social organization, and in proportion as civilization has grown in worth, these deeply ingrained serviceable qualities have become defects. Evolution & Ethics
But on the other hand, writes Eagle Man, “wolf is a misunderstood animal.” Huxley saw wolf’s potential too, and saw its cultivation as a hopeful model:
The intelligence which has converted the brother of the wolf into the faithful guardian of the flock ought to be able to do something towards curbing the instincts of savagery in civilized men.
The question here is whether we think nature already embodies all the lessons we must learn, or if we’re in the process of working some of them out through the natural/historical development of our own instincts and impulses. Can human nature improve on nature per se?
The so-called “feminine principles” of acceptance, emotional expression, peacefulness sound to me like a human contribution to pre-human nature’s own implicit values. They just might add something the leonine world is missing.
Whatever you think about lions, the important issue is how we humans can best go about making our young men more accepting, expressive, pacifistic. (The young women of my acquaintance don’t always model those virtues so perfectly either, frankly.)
“Old Europe” apparently balanced its male and female energy equitably, under the watchful and nurturing gaze of its benevolent Creator. The Celts and Druids did too. But then what happened? Creator looked away, Deist-fashion? Or what?
Eagle Man, under the prodding of his hekoya, admits that tragic natural disasters challenge our full appreciation of divine benevolence. He nonetheless continues to affirm that there’s “far more benevolence than evil” under the sun. And there is, I’m sure. But that’s small consolation when the storm or flood washes you or your loved ones away.
“I have always doubted that a mere man could alter what Creator made.” The impotence thesis is troublesome. Are we epiphenomenal, or are we problematic for Creation? If the former, why are we here thinking about our ethical responsibilities?
Children raised in a society of gender inequality are unfit for freedom, Eagle Man asserts. I wonder what he thinks about the turmoil in Algeria, Bahrain, Egypt… What do you?
I love Eagle Man’s ghost dream, even though I don’t believe in ghosts. He seems to think it was more than a dream, “zany” as that sounds to rationalists like me. The mind-body problem seems to have clear implications for the Spirit World, doesn’t it? Or are these just artificial Cartesian distinctions we’re free to drop, if we embrace indigenous natural realism?
Most intriguing, in today’s text: the “East Power” & “Sky Power” optimism about communications technology. Did Black Elk really foretell satellites and Google Earth’s eye in the sky? And, I wonder again: what does Eagle Man think about Watson and “our new computer overlords”?
The “Mount Rushmore of organized religion,” headed by Billy Graham and Preacher Bob… Hilarious!
“Maybe we did come from Wind Cave. But who knows?” This may just be Eagle Man’s agnostic and pluralistic nod to Darwinian evolution. But if we come from a tree of life whose lower trunk reveals our consanguinity with Eagle, Lion, and Wolf (not to mention beetle and slug and worm et al), and if the genetic, paleontological, and other evidence for that patrimony continues to mount, agnosticism will become too tepid an attitude.
On the other hand, a certain kind of Darwinian fundamentalism swings too far the other way.
In the end, the absence of evidence for a godly hand in evolution isevidence of godly absence, for evolution and selection show precisely the characteristics they would have if they were purely material, mindless, and purposeless processes… There is no more evidence that god directed evolution than there is that god keeps the engine working in your car—and yet nobody keeps an open mind about the possibility that god is pushing their pistons.
Nobody? Every day in Native Wisdom class suggests otherwise, and I’m gradually learning not to mind. But the big question here for me remains: how much of what we need to learn, in order to live responsibly with one another and all life on this planet, can only be taught and learned by an evolved and evolving humanity?