Start with Simplicity

I’ll be adding stories and thoughts like this as I find more refreshing examples of Simplicity:

78 square foot home



John Burroughs, Earthclergy

John Burroughs (1837-1921) emerged from his family’s religious pasturelands to send tendril, root and leaf under, over and through the artificial walls out into the wilds of Nature.  Last evening I bumped into John again on the trail into slumberland, by way of the following quote found in Douglas Brinkley’s book on Burroughs’ friend Theodore Roosevelt, The Wilderness Warrior:

“If we do not go to church so much as did our [parents], we go to the woods much more, and are much more inclined to make a temple of them than they were.”

John Burroughs, “The Gospel of Nature,” in Time and Change (1912)

New Models of Home and Community

The Earthship is only one of the possibilities for inhabiting shared land.

Putting it all in context:

The Tarantula Nebula, a billion stars, 180,000 light years from your address!

Wildness Within

“Instead of studying theology, as is now done out of the Bible and Testament. . . it is necessary that we refer to the Bible of the Creation.”

~Thomas Paine, The Age of Reason (Part II, 1795)


“We little know how much wildness there is in us. . .Savageness is natural, civilization is strained and unnatural.”

~John Muir, Journals, November, 1874

Interfaith or Trans-faith?

On June 7, the White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships sponsored a meeting on “Advancing Interfaith and Community Service on College and University Campuses.”

Here is my posted response to an article on the Religion page of Huffington Post:

“As someone who has worked for twenty-five years in interfaith programs I can support these efforts to move beyond competitive religion, through comparative religion to cooperative religion. Yet, maybe the “ethical passion” of the youth hint at something more, better, healthier. “Learning across religious boundaries” is admirable, but what of the boundaries themselves? Could “erasing the differences” (bringing down the berlin walls of belief) actually be the “salvation of faith?” In other words, in a religion saturated secular culture (odd as that is), could we possibly find more common ground in natural, intrinsic, basic ethical action, cooperative goodwill and self-reliance and finally, thankfully, let go of divisive fence-building by super-natural, fear-based faiths? The youth see it. Let’s get out of the way and let them lead the way forward.”

Dark Green Religion

My Wiccan friend Macha loaned me her copy of Bron Taylor’s book, Dark Green Religion.  I found it stimulating and intriguing for those who are attracted to a fresh way to “do religion” without Religion.  He ends the book with these lines:

“What I have been long looking for is a sensible religion, one that is rationally defensible as well as socially powerful enough to save us from our least-sensible selves.  If there is a sensible post-Darwinian religion, then, there must be a sensory post-Darwinian religion.  For this, dark green religion is a reasonable candidate.” 

This may be a good challenge for a viable “Earth Congregation.”

Biologists as New Clergy?

From a Treehugger interview with biologist Janine Benyus, author of Biomimicry and founder of the Biomimicry Institute:

“Get outside! We just finished a children’s CD and there’s this great chant: “Get out, get out, get outside, get outside.” And that’s the first thing because we rarely do go outside. is a great way to ask the world for help, but it’s the next best thing from being outside.

So go outside and literally sit under a tree. Look up and say, what is this tree doing that we need to do in our industrial [congregational] world to meet our needs? What you do is you change the lens with which you see that tree. Suddenly you go, Oh, my god! There are solar arrays. And they’re not flat on top of a roof, they’re in vertical arrays. They are tilting as the sun moves across the sky. They are defending themselves against pest. This tree is pumping water hundreds of feet up, but how is it doing it? It’s not really using a pump, it’s actually pulling the water. The roots are exchanging nutrients with the roots of the tree next door.

You just begin to see what has been there all along, but because you’ve seen it as scenery instead of genius you miss it. So it’s literally being that kid again and saying to the tree, “How are you doing what it is that I need to do?” And at that point you need to find biologists that you can work with and have that biologist tell you what he or she knows.

And then the next step is to ask, “how can I get closer to that? How can I be more like that technology in all ways.” Not just in the mechanistic way it works, but the way it works as part of the system. The way the solar cell falls to the ground and builds soil, for goodness sake. That’s the real magic trick. That these technologies individually work so well, but collectively they create condition conducive to life in the habitat.

So it’s both a technical inspiration and an aspirational goal for us and it comes from just recognizing that we’re not the first species to have tried to meet our needs elegantly in a place. Literally, let the entrancement of the last 350 years of western science, where somehow we convinced ourselves that we’re the only one with the answers, let that fall away. And go outside and realize that we’re surrounded by genius. It’s just a recognition of that.”