“Was not their mistake once more bred of the life of slavery that they had been living?—a life which was always looking upon everything, except mankind, animate and inanimate—‘nature,’ as people used to call it—as one thing, and mankind as another, it was natural to people thinking in this way, that they should try to make ‘nature’ their slave, since they thought ‘nature’ was something outside them” — William Morris

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Bron Taylor: Dark Green Religion Liveblog 2

Q: isn’t this just like previous religions?
Weber: disenchantment of nature within religions
Enchantment of nature within science
science erodes long standing religious metaphysics
and it is easier or harder to incorporate it 
transcendent divine beings have a hard time vs Buddhism (not theistic)

Zammito: how does it evolve? 
organizational level?
Taylor: Where are the institutional expressions?
university as global environmental milieu
the sublime; how is it expressed today?
that kind of affective connection has all sorts of institutional expressions
some evidence that the world religions are coming around to this

Q: evolutionary time and apocalypticism
But part of what is interesting about so many world religions is that they are very developed views of eternity or the immortal or the completely permanent
what are the views of eternity native in this movement?

A: Ishmael by Quinn. He argues that the world’s religions are involved in some way in divine rescue from this world
Asia: rescuing people from cycles of suffering and of course the West
negative view of this world
overt pagans or overt animists: this is the one
well what about suffering and death? Lion King. Simba’s question on suffering to his father. “That’s the circle of life.” (Me: it is the favorite movie of the psychopath in Jekyll!)

Q: What is relationship of this feeling to environmental organizations?
Organizations exploit this feeling; try to promote it
A: a lot of environmentalists see it as perilous and divisive
but environmental scientists recognize how important it is
I was just asked to talk at WWF. They got interested in religion a generation ago. Meeting at Assisi. Religion as barrier. More secular people have now realized that we know enough about the science to be concerned, and we know enough tech to respond. But what’s with the human animal? 

Q: optimistic reading of the role of affect. It’s hard not to think that this is all very corporate. These are institutions that are experts in cashing in on affect. 
A: as a religion scholar we should be alert to how dangerous religion can be. I live on irony; it helps to get me through. Of course Disney is very corrupt and so on, wiped out an ecosystem in central Florida and so on. We are individually and collectively complicated. I was shamed when I suggested going to Disney at a recent meeting. But I went anyway. 

Q: Class not necessarily in the Marxist sense. Does this landscape of sacredness have a special meaning? 
A: I don’t think it’s just the property of the intelligensia. Patterns of beauty may be rooted in biology, in pristine biological systems that we flourish in. Biophilia. 
(Earlier Taylor had talked to me about the role of survival in assuming that something is alive.)
Our suspicion of grand narratives and emphasis on difference >> we forgot what unites us with the rest of the living world

Q: I have a complementary question. Have you come across a sort of negative ecological sense? Not based on empathy? But rather through hurricanes and so on, a religious sensibility of mother nature as pissed off? 
A: Blaming some kind of divine force is as old as religion. That doesn’t work with promoting reverence towards nature. It puts us in a place of opposition to the natural world. 
What about the subterranean evil animistic spirits? New forms of animism are developing. 

Q: animism is viewed as the system that orchestrated the slave trade. In African Studies we have a hard time with this term. 
A: there was a fashion that may have been short lived to not use the term (Tyler). There is a new animism. It is a serviceable term but people should know the history. I was at the People’s Earth Summit, focus of anti-globalization resistance. I got a different view of African spirituality there. 

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