Saturday, July 18, 2009

People, Prayer & Climate Change

Mythical Corn Ceremony
Ignacio Moquino (Zia Pueblo) 1938

After exploring the Anasazi I am left thinking about the relationship of human beings to the Earth and to climate change. Certainly the weather affects us. And, we know that today we humans are affecting the climate, not in a good way, by our carbon footprints. But, can we also affect climate with prayer, and through art?

A while ago I was reading about the Puritans. They took personal responsibility for storms at sea and harsh winters by blaming the weather on even their most private sinful thoughts. This seemed like neurotic self-absorption to me. Would they have been relieved to understand that everything was not about them? Or, did blaming the weather on their own sins give them some feeling of control over the dramatic circumstances they encountered?

Did the Anasazi priests lose credibility when their climate rituals failed to produce rain or did the rain actually abandon them because of something they did? Were they out of harmony? Had they possibly altered their landscape to the extent that it did in fact cause persistent drought? One way or another the great houses of the Anasazi lost the critical mass needed to hold together as the center of society for the San Juan Basin and its people. The people dispersed and survived by living simpler lives. Is there a lesson here for us?