Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Two New Books About God

The Case For God - The Book of Genesis

Two new books about God came out recently, The Case For God by religious scholar and writer Karen Armstrong and The Book of Genesis Illustrated by R. Crumb by the expatriate cartoonist and creator of 1960s underground commix character Mr. Natural. Both deem to be provocative in their own ways.

NPRs Terr Gross interviewed Karen Armstrong for the program Fresh Air. Armstrong references her vast knowledge of history to explain how idolatry becomes the danger of monotheism. She provides a Renaissance background for today's schism between science and religion and the modern advent of atheism.

R. Crumb says his creation, Book of Genesis, is an attempt “to illuminate the text of Genesis by illustrating every single thing that’s in there.” Says Crumb, “It hasn’t been done before I think.” “There are hidden stories that are very strong” Said Crumb who was inspired by a life-long interest in ancient civilizations. Like Karen Armstrong, Crumb holds that, the Bible is not meant to be taken literally.

Illustration by R. Crumb

Saturday, September 26, 2009

All My Relations

Controversy over the new Darwin film Creation caused me to ponder why it might be that some Christians are so freaked out by Darwin’s theory of evolution. Is it just because they don’t like thinking that it took God 4.55 billion years to bring about the entire creation instead of a quick six days? Or, could wondering if this whole thing is still a work in progress be putting them on edge?

It seems to me that denial of our kinship with other species even if it is to set us apart and above the rest of them is a heartbreaking loss. In the Shamanic religions our kinship with other species is considered sacred. At the beginning of every Native Americans ceremony that I have had the honor to participate in respect is paid to “All my relations” acknowledging and honoring our kinship with all living beings.

I’m wondering today if being psychologically severed from kinship with other species doesn’t alienate people to the point where it is too painful for them to even think about it.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Creation "Too Controversial"

The Darwins played by Paul Bettany and Jennifer Connelly

I’ve been writing about the history of religion in American mainly to set the context for my own spiritual quest. To that end I will soon resume my history of our spiritual heritage and the legacy of the native Pacific Northwest. But just now I’d like to leap ahead because it is absolutely astounding to me how singularly extreme some contemporary American Christians are when it comes to the theory of evolution.

The new British film Creation starring Paul Bettany and Jennifer Connelly opens in Britain on September 25th. The film opened the 34th Toronto International Film Festival but so far no distributors in the U.S.A. have picked up this 19th century costume drama about Charles Darwin and his family on the grounds that it is "too controversial".

Sunday, September 13, 2009

The Ancient Northwest

Glaciers gouged out the river valleys of the Pacific Northwest and created the inland Salish Sea. The glaciers also created grasslands while the forests very slowly grew back. The earliest known inhabitants of the Pacific Northwest were grassland hunters of mammoth, bison, deer and elk. Post-glacial rising seas swallowed up evidence of any early inhabitants who may have lived along the shoreline before 5,000 years ago.

Ancient Pacific Northwest

Eventually Northwest tribes as we know them today developed marine based cultures along the shorelines. The inland sea was their highway and their food source. The wealth of their environment gave them the resources to develop stable centralized communities with complex art forms and sophisticated cosmologies.

Hamshamstsas Mask ~ Wood, cedar bark, baleen, red cloth, 1901