New Wood Blog: Integral Ecology and the Prophetic Imagination


Note: I have decided to move everything over to a domain of my own and the Wordpress package, which gives me many more options. So I am discontinuing this site, and moving over to The Earth Keeper. Please come and join me! It will get underway the evening of April 1st. (A new version of this intro piece is already up.)

Many years ago, an elderly friend told me his experience of December 7, 1941. He was a senior in high school, and was spending that Sunday with friends at an ice-skating party on a lake near his home in northern Minnesota. Someone from a nearby house approached and, with an ashen face, told the group that Japan had attacked Pearl Harbor. At that moment, he knew his whole life had changed, all his plans gone out the window. And he felt a strong calling, and knew what he had to do. He was two months past his 18th birthday. The next morning, he, along with many other young men, went and enlisted in the Army.

The 2016 U.S. presidential election was a Pearl Harbor for the planet. If Donald Trump and his GOP live up to their promises, it no longer will be possible for the world to stay below the temperature threshold that all other nations have agreed we would be foolish to exceed. Many generations will suffer. More than half of all species will be at risk of extinction. Eighty national academies of science have examined the body of work of thousands of climate researchers from around the world, and all eighty national academies agree: continued human use of fossil fuels is placing all of life in jeopardy, and we must phase out these fuels as quickly as possible. Donald Trump and his GOP pledge to do the opposite.

Just as the bombing of Pearl Harbor in 1941 irrevocably changed my friend and many others, so this Pearl Harbor for the planet has irrevocably changed me. Like him, I, too, heard a calling that night, and I have been rearranging my life commitments in response. I am not a warrior, I am a writer and healer. But now I must also be a prophetic witness to the signs of our times that point toward a gathering, growing storm of destruction and a society in denial. When I formally launch this site the first week of April my first post will address that topic.

I am not focused on success in any of this, but I must answer this call for my children. I must answer it for my grandchildren. I must answer it for all the unborn of the next hundred generations. I must answer it for all the little ones of all the species at grave risk of being exterminated because of the sinful greed and recklessness of this generation. I must answer it for the land itself, the mountains and valleys, the forests and deserts, the lakes and rivers and seas—all the ecosystems of the world that provide the food, water, shelter and space on which all living things depend, and which are being pillaged by my kind. I must answer it to be who I am.

I have always been drawn to where the wild things are: the natural world around me, and the wilderness within. As a writer, speaker, and university professor, I have for decades focused on this combination of nature and the human spirit. In recent years, my spiritual journey has added another lens: justice. Social, environmental and intergenerational. The New Wood Blog combines science, spirituality, religion, nature, culture and justice--a combination known as integral ecology--and hopes to bear witness to the signs of the times as well as nurture a healthy spirituality. In this, it could be considered a blog of prophetic imagination. I invite you to check it out as it gets underway the first week of April. It may at times make you feel hopeful or inspired; it may make you feel uncomfortable or defensive or even angry. I hope it often will be challenging, and always be interesting.

Photo: Loon, Bear Island Lake, northern Minnesota, July 29, 2017