Ode to the Living Sylvan Land » No Unsacred Place

Ode to the Living Sylvan Land » No Unsacred Place

In my latest post over at No Unsacred Place, I talk about my mixed reactions to the news of the hydro-fracking spill up in northern Pennsylvania last week, and my struggle to stay grounded in my love for the local landscape as a living, holy presence while I confront the injustices and ignorances that cause such saddening destruction. I also highlight some of the inspiring news coming out of local communities in Pennsylvania, where citizens are standing up against pressure from oil and gas companies and working together to protect the lands they love from harmful development:

“Local communities are fighting back, resisting the enormous pressure from gas and oil companies (and the politicians they’ve financed into office) to take advantage of the Marcellus Shale deposit that lies beneath nearly two-thirds of the state’s mountains, forests and fields…”

Read More

Quote of the Week

“The room where I live is plain as a skull, a firm setting for windows. A nun lives in the fires of the spirit, a thinker lives in the bright wick of the mind, an artist lives jammed in the pool of materials. (Or, a nun lives, thoughtful and tough, in the mind, a nun lives, with that special poignancy peculiar to religious, in the exile of materials; and a thinker, who would think of something, lives in the clash of materials, and in the world of spirit where all long thoughts must lead; and an artist lives in the mind, that warehouse of forms, and an artist lives, of course, in the spirit. So.) But this room is a skull, a fire tower, wooden, and empty. Of itself it is nothing, but the view, as they say, is good.”

– Annie Dillard, from Holy the Firm

Read More

Welcome, World!

Welcome, World!

As both Rumi and T. Thorn Coyle have said, you must ask for what you really want. What I want, and what I’ve wanted for as long as I can remember, is to be a writer, and to share my writing with a community of engaged and interested readers. Sometimes that seems like a really easy goal: all I need is a computer or, if we’re getting really rugged and old school, a pen and some paper. Other times, it feels like the most difficult, intimidating and impossible goal in the world. I care passionately about all the work that I do and all the writing I share, and the fear of being overlooked, unsupported, misunderstood or laughed at can loom large in my peripheral vision. But eventually I realized that if I’m not ready to stand up and brag about my work, to shout my enthusiasm and excitement from the rooftops — then why should I expect anyone else to?

Read More

One Year After Deepwater Horizon » No Unsacred Place

One Year After Deepwater Horizon » No Unsacred Place

In my latest post over at No Unsacred Place, I take a look back at the Deepwater Horizon BP oil spill that occurred last April, one year ago tomorrow, to asses long-term damage and on-going clean-up efforts in the area. Though no longer making headlines, clean-up and restoration in the Gulf continues to be slow going, with harmful and unpredictable consequences effecting wildlife in the area for decades to come:

“Of the nearly 5 million barrels of oil and 9 million liters of chemical dispersants released by BP into the Gulf of Mexico last year, approximately 25% remains unaccounted for, with another 50% forming surface slicks, …”

Read More

Pagans and Nonprofits

Pagans and Nonprofits

I seem to be making a few gentle waves in that fine, dry wine I mentioned last week. My article, “Balancing Liberty and Law: Religious Nonprofits in America and Britain,” published on Patheos.com last Thursday, was cited extensively today in an article in The Nonprofit Quarterly (and subsequently picked up by Jason Pitzl-Waters over at The Wild Hunt). NPQ reporter Rick Cohen writes:

“Typically, debates about the tax treatment of faith-based organizations and of churches involve well-known and recognized religions – Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, etc. – and sometimes debates…”

Read More

Silence in the Trees

Silence in the Trees

Tonight, reading David Abram’s musings on the language of our embodied selves and this thickly expressive world in which we live, I wonder about the internet.

As my friend Cat has taught me, the Quakers have a saying: “This Friend speaks to my condition.”

The Quaker Meeting is one of silence and unfolding into Spirit. When a Friend speaks in Meeting, it is with Spirit moving through them. The breath is Spirit in the flesh, and when it stirs, the Friend opens and allows the music of Spirit (the Song of the World, as we Druids call it) to rise up and overflow.

Read More

Balancing Liberty and Law » Patheos.com

Balancing Liberty and Law » Patheos.com

Just in time for Tax Day, I have a new article up over at Patheos.com‘s Pagan Portal on the balance of liberty and law, examining nonprofit tax status and government regulation of religious organizations in America and Britain:

“In early October 2010, Paganism was making headlines worldwide. In the United Kingdom, The Druid Network (TDN) became the first ever Pagan religious organization to be granted charitable status by the Charity Commission of England and Wales—a move that, as major newspapers in both Britain and America reported, was tantamount to “officially recognizing” Druidry as a religion for the first time in thousands of years. The news was welcome and celebrated by many people in the Pagan communities of both countries, who viewed TDN’s success …”

Read More

Ambivalence of the Sacred Earth » No Unsacred Place

Ambivalence of the Sacred Earth » No Unsacred Place

In my first post over at the new Pagan Newswire Collective blog project, No Unsacred Place: Earth and Nature in Pagan Traditions, I explore the Problem of Justice from an earth-centered perspective, and discuss its implications for the new Law of Mother Earth set to pass in Bolivia establishing the rights of nature:

“The Problem of Justice for us is not so much why [suffering and evil] exist, but how should we respond to them? While monotheists might model themselves after an all-loving but ultimately transcendent deity who provides an example of justice and righteousness separate from and beyond the muck and mess of the world, our desire to ‘attune ourselves to the earth’ and model ourselves…”

Read More

Making Peace Out of Nothing At All » Pagan+Politics

In my latest article for Pagan+Politics, I explore the recent and fascinating scientific discoveries about the role that culture plays in the peacemaking and sociability of nonhuman primates:

“For those of us whose religious practices are anchored in relationship with the earth and its many inhabitants, the scientific world has often seemed to lag behind in its recognition of the complexity and subtlety of nonhuman experience as we witness it on a regular basis. Studies revealing the intelligence and sensitivity of dolphins, elephants, corvine birds, honeybees and even trees and other plants, confirm what many of us have long known to be true…”

Read More

Reinventing the Wheel

Reinventing the Wheel

More to the point for me is this question: why is the ancient “wheel” better than the modern one? For me, there are obvious flaws in the modern “wheel,” the approach that most contemporary religions take in answering the basic questions about life, the universe and everything. The most important and obvious flaw being their denigration of the earth and the natural world, or in many cases the mere fact that they haven’t much to say on the matter. They feel like “square wheels,” so to speak, that at best make for a bumpy, uncomfortable ride, and at worst get us stuck in ruts, our hard edges jammed firmly into the yielding earth and unable to move. And so I turn to ancient religions to learn how to soften those edges, refining the square into a smoother circle …

Read More