Friday, April 26, 2013

For Earth Day I Wrote a Letter about the Keystone XL Pipeline (Instead of Signing a Petition)

A Little about American Quakers

"You mean you folks are still around?"…"Aren't you like those people that dress in old-time clothes and have horses and buggies? Yeah, the Amish, that's right."

Every so often I encounter this kind of reaction when I let it be known that I am a member of the Religious Society of Friends, in other words, a Quaker. Yes we are still around, no we are not the Amish and furthermore, after over 350 years we are still upholding our peace testimony. American "unprogrammed" Quakers still do not have paid clergy, a church hierarchy, or a set of orthodox doctrines and creeds. We continue to meet weekly for silent worship. We continue our rich tradition of living our testimonies as we are able, which, considering that we are devoted to peace and non-violence, individually and as a group, has landed a surprisingly large number of us in jail: for refusing to worship state religions; for helping slaves go free; for according women equality within our community and working to achieve it in general; for refusing to fight in wars; for objecting to the use of weapons of mass destruction; and most recently for opposing the Keystone XL Pipeline and what it stands for.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Read "Cranes and Kenosis" at City Creatures Blog

Happy Earth Day!

I’m pleased to say my piece about whooping cranes, "Cranes and Kenosis” has been posted today at City Creatures, a blog published by the Center for Humans and Nature. These are the folks who co-produced the Green Fire, the documentary about Aldo Leopold, and they do other interesting work as well.


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Friday, April 19, 2013

Walt Whitman, Deep Ecologist

Poetry Month 2013 

 


My respiration and inspiration....the beating of my heart....the passing
     of blood and air through my lungs,
The sniff of green leaves and dry leaves, and of the shore
     and darkcolored sea-rocks, and of hay in the barn,
The sound of the belched words of my voice....words loosed
     to the eddies of the wind,
A few light kisses....a few embraces....a reaching around of arms,
The play of shine and shade as the supple boughs wag,
The delight alone or in the rush of the streets, or along
     the fields and hillsides,
The feeling of health....the full-noon trill...the song of me
     rising from bed and meeting the sun.
For a long time I resisted Walt Whitman—the lists, the grandiosity, the boasting, the loose lines, the ellipses--yikes! Was he for real or was he a fraud, an American huckster? No, Emily Dickinson and her intense compression were what counted as real poetry. So I neglected Whitman, much as I suspect much of America neglects Whitman. So many of our poets are “great,” are “classics,” are easily Googled and largely unread. To read serious poetry seriously is to risk having mundane reality crack open: maybe all kinds of things will look radically different--worse, possibly, but also better.
Stop this day and night with me and you shall possess the origin
     of all poems,
You shall possess the good of the earth and the sun....there
     are millions of suns left,
You shall no longer take things at second or third hand....nor look through
     the eyes of the dead....nor feed on the spectres in books,
You shall not look through my eyes either, nor take things from me,
You shall listen to all sides and filter them from yourself.
It happens that my father died recently and it was my job to write a eulogistic piece to be read at his memorial service and also to be sent to distant friends and relations. This remembrance took some time to write. While working on it, I was led to reread Leaves of Grass, the original 1855 version, which is what I found lying around the house. (E-version is here.) This edition is Whitman at his most exuberant, before his Civil War experiences, coupled with his increasing fame, took him in more serious, sometimes sententious, directions.