Here are books and an online magazines that members of the Deep Times editorial team are currently reading. The sheer number and quality of recent publications related to the Great Turning is cause for hope in the midst of all the crises we face.
Reclaiming The Sacred: Healing Our Relationships with Ourselves and the World, by Jeff Golden, 2022.
Recorded by Molly Brown
Jeff Golden sent me a copy of his wonderful book after taking an online WTR workshop with me. I found his book both inspiring and informative about the true sources of happiness (which, guess what, turn out NOT to be material possessions and money!) Jeff did extensive research on studies about happiness as well as reading the work of psychologists, economists, cosmologists, activists, saints, and poets (16 pages of End Notes in small print). He shares the conclusions and teachings from all this in his own clear and engaging prose, with numerous quotations from philosophers and spiritual teachers from many traditions on life’s gifts of purpose, belonging, and joy.
The Good Ancestor: A Radical Prescription for Long-Term Thinking, by Roman Krznaric, 2020.
Recording by Molly Brown
This is a splendid work of Deep Time!! Krznaric contrasts “the marshmallow brain” with “the acorn brain,” the former being the pleasure center in our brain that drives us toward short-term pleasures and rewards (immediate gratification and addiction) and avoidance of immediate pain. On the other hand, the “acorn brain” functions for long-term planning and visioning, a capacity developed in humans over two million years of evolution through Wayfinding, the Grandmother Effect, Social Cooperation, and Tool Innovation. Krznaric gives us numerous examples of humans undertaking projects all over the planet and through the ages, projects that will not be complete for decades or centuries, long after the original proponents have died. He recommends that to be “good ancestors,” we need to reclaim and develop this dimension of our thinking, and do so in community, through “deep democracy, ecological civilization, and cultural evolution.” Although the book is full of specific ways to develop long-term thinking in ourselves and our global society, I was surprised to find only two brief references to Joanna Macy and nothing about the Work That Reconnects–that was disappointing. But otherwise, the book is terrific!
Recorded by Karina
How to Do Nothing: Resisting the Attention Economy, by Jenny Odell
I just moved, so I touched every book in my library. So many great memories, and so many bent bookmarks, waiting for time to finish for years or even decades. But a new book was assigned by my new library’s book group, and library books always win the race, because they come with deadlines. The book is How to Do Nothing: Resisting the Attention Economy, by Jenny Odell. While the author doesn’t call it the industrial growth economy, it’s recognizable, if on steroids, in how she addresses the bifurcation of our attention by advertisers (through our screens), and how their intentional distraction of our attention affects our mediated relationships (through social media). Odell also doesn’t refer to Four Arguments for the Elimination of Television, but her book makes me want to finish all of Jerry Mander’s. Odell addresses the gig economy–another fracturing of our lives by the industrial growth society–and how it adds new hurdles to workers’ ability to organize. Odell offers some ways to go forth–centrally the conscious reclamation of our attention from the screen to the world, and the creation of art that helps us do that.
I’m loving Gene Sharp’s pamphlets (what took me so long?), including Making the Abolition of War a Realistic Goal. Decidedly not a strict pacifist, he recognizes that when power differentials come with weapons, the oppressed need nonviolent strategies and tactics, and he outlines, with examples from history, many. One “civilian-based defense” tactic rang loud for this time, particularly in the US and Afghanistan: “Teachers would refuse to introduce propaganda into the schools–as happened in Norway under the Nazis. Attempts to control schools could be met with refusal to change the school curriculum or to introduce the [internal or foreign] invader’s propaganda, explanations to the pupils of the issues at stake, continuation of regular education as long as possible, and if necessary, closing the schools and holding private classes in the children’s homes.” While he sees mass resistance to oppression in terms of power-over–the organized civilians are exercising power–one might as easily see most of his tactics as power with, at least within the civilian culture that is its bedrock.
We Are Each Other’s Harvest: Celebrating African American Farmers, Land, and Legacy by Natalie Baszile, 2021.
Recording by Rebecca Selove
This book is a collection of gloriously diverse perspectives on the history and contemporary world of farmers of color, mostly African American, in the U.S. The 45 sections represent almost as many authors who write about their love of their connection to the land. There are beautiful photographs, moving poems, and essays describing courage, determination, injustice and heartbreak, strong generational and community bonds. Natalie Baszile, who compiled the collection, wrote several of the essays and provided some excerpts from her fictional work Queen Sugar. This is a delicious way to get educated about the contributions of farmers who have followed their dreams despite historical and institutional racism. Prepare to be moved.
Discovering Emergence Magazine
Recording by Molly Brown
A random dropdown on my computer screen happened to mention Emergence Magazine. Because our editorial team was developing the theme of emergence for this issue, it caught my attention. I clicked on emergencemagazine.org, and previously unknown realms opened up to me.
On the home page, a note from the editors said:
“It has always been a radical act to share stories during dark times.They are regenerative spaces of creation and renewal. As we experience a loss of sacred connection to the earth, we share stories that explore the timeless connections between ecology, culture, and spirituality.”
Wow! Already Emergence Magazine drew me in. What an amazing cornucopia of resources I had inadvertently found! This is an online magazine plus much more: podcasts (a new one each week), a beautiful annual print edition book, online courses and programs, and in-person events aimed at providing spaces where the wider community can connect through the power of story.
Selecting “Stories” at the top of the home page takes you to an amazing array of essays, features, films, galleries, interviews, op-eds, poems, practices, and more. Tonight the website took me from slime mold and drilling ice cores in the Arctic to stories of apocalypse and into the mystery of what lies beyond endings. I started reading Ben Okri’s long story “After the End,” and could not stop until I finished it. So many offerings are equally compelling.
Joanna Macy is featured several times, including an interview (Widening Circles 2/7/2018) and an op-ed (Entering the Bardo 7/20/2020.)
I invite you to explore Emergence Magazine to see what draws you in. Warning: You may not be able to stop looking at this magazine once you start!