Walking in the Land of Many Gods

Walking in the Land of Many Gods: Remembering Sacred Reason in Contemporary Environmental Literature

A. JAMES WOHLPART
Copyright Date: 2013
Pages: 256
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt46ngxr
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    Walking in the Land of Many Gods
    Book Description:

    How are we placed on Earth? What is our relationship to the world around us, and how< does our thinking affect the way we relate to the world? We are entrapped, says A. James Wohlpart, by what Martin Heidegger calls "enframing," a worldview that considers all objects as mere resources for our use. Walking in the Land of Many Gods envisions a new way of thinking about the world, one grounded in a moral imagination reconnected to Earth. Insightful readings of three contemporary classics of nature writing-Janisse Ray's Ecology of a Cracker Childhood, Terry Tempest Williams's Refuge: An Unnatural History of Family and Place, and Linda Hogan's Dwellings: A Spiritual History of the Living World-are at the heart of Wohlpart's endeavor. Powerful and affecting works like these reveal a pathway to a deeper remembering, one that reconnects us with the primal forces of creation and acknowledges the sacredness of the world. We have forgotten that the world around us is rich and fertile and generative, says Wohlpart. His exploration of these literary works, based on deep anthropology and Native American philosophy, opens a pathway into a new way of thinking called sacred reason. Founded on interdependence and interrelationship, and on care and compassion, sacred reason reminds us that divinity exists around us at all times. We are invited to walk, once again, in a land filled with many gods.

    eISBN: 978-0-8203-4587-1
    Subjects: Environmental Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. PREFACE
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
    (pp. xi-xii)
  5. A NOTE ON DOCUMENTATION
    (pp. xiii-xvi)
  6. CHAPTER ONE Introduction A Mind of Sky and Thunder and Sun
    (pp. 1-11)

    I remember walking on a dirt road that crossed a steep hillside somewhere in Switzerland. I was with my Opa, my German grandfather. I must have been about four years old. Opa had on his characteristic gray fedora with a blue jay feather stuck in the band. He had removed his shirt, retaining his starch-white A-shirt, so that the sun could warm his bare shoulders. We had left the rest of the family—my parents, an older brother, two sisters, and my Oma—back at our cabin. Opa and I had gone in search of Gemüse, in this case, wild...

  7. CHAPTER TWO Remembering Deep Space and Deep Time Heidegger, the Pleistocene, and Native American Philosophy
    (pp. 12-46)

    Around the middle of the 1930s, Heidegger’s thinking took a turn away from an analysis of human being, or Dasein (which found its expression in what is often considered his most important work, Being and Time), to considering the unfolding historical movement of Being in general.¹ His exploration of the phenomenon of Being yielded the insight that being becomes manifest through humans, that being is dependent on the linguistic and sociocultural practices of humans (a word shortly about upper-case and lower-case usage). William Lovitt states that in his early philosophy Heidegger “is centrally concerned with the relation between man and...

  8. CHAPTER THREE Restor(y)ing the Self Ecological Restoration in Janisse Ray’s Ecology of a Cracker Childhood
    (pp. 47-85)

    In The Sunflower Forest, William Jordan defines ecological restoration as “the attempt, sometimes breathtakingly successful, sometimes less so, to make nature whole. To do this the restorationist does everything possible to heal the scars and erase the signs of disturbance or disruption.”¹ He explains that the work of the restorationist is to restore all aspects of an ecosystem or landscape, including those elements, such as fire or flooding, that might seem dangerous or nonproductive; he concludes that restoration “is a deliberate attempt to return all the features of the system to some historic condition, defined ecologically and with a studied...

  9. CHAPTER FOUR The Long Migration Home Listening to Birds in Terry Tempest Williams’s Refuge: An Unnatural History of Family and Place
    (pp. 86-126)

    As a work of ecological restoration and the reformation of self, Janisse Ray’s Ecology of a Cracker Childhood reinscribes the longleaf pine ecosystem into existence on a metaphorical or textual level. The restoration of the lost forest in turn creates a value system in the autobiographer such that she is able to rewrite her own childhood, insinuating a close intimacy with the natural world around her, including the vanishing longleaf pine forests. Telling the story of the forests and of the self provides a foundation for Ray’s identity, a way of being that allows the landscape to presence in its...

  10. CHAPTER FIVE Healing the Severed Trust Linda Hogan’s Dwellings: A Spiritual History of the Living World as Native Ceremony
    (pp. 127-171)

    In The Sacred Hoop, Paula Gunn Allen identifies two basic forms of Native American literature, the ceremony and the myth. According to Allen, “the ceremony is the ritual enactment of a specialized perception of a cosmic relationship, while the myth is a prose record of that relationship.”¹ Both forms have the purpose of locating the individual within an interlocking and interconnected framework that includes the psychological, the social, the geographical, and the spiritual, all the way out to the cosmic. This holistic perception of the world—very different from the scientific, calculative way of thinking that separates and isolates things...

  11. CHAPTER SIX Walking in the Land of Many Gods Remembering the Mysterious Plenitude of Earth
    (pp. 172-180)

    In the essay “Landscape and Narrative,” Barry Lopez suggests the way in which storytelling acts as a kind of ceremony that heals the rift between our inner and outer worlds. He defines “two landscapes—one outside the self, the other within. The external landscape is the one we see—not only the line and color of the land and its shading at different times of the day, but also its plants and animals in season, its weather, its geology, the record of its climate and evolution.” Yet Lopez’s interest is in describing a less tangible aspect of this external landscape....

  12. NOTES
    (pp. 181-194)
  13. BIBLIOGRAPHY
    (pp. 195-200)
  14. INDEX
    (pp. 201-203)