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Walking in the Land of Many Gods

Remembering Sacred Reason in Contemporary Environmental Literature

A. James Wohlpart

Publication Year: 2013

How are we placed on Earth? What is our relationship to the world around us, and how< does our thinking affect the way we relate to the world? We are entrapped, says A. James Wohlpart, by what Martin Heidegger calls "enframing," a worldview that considers all objects as mere resources for our use. Walking in the Land of Many Gods envisions a new way of thinking about the world, one grounded in a moral imagination reconnected to Earth.

Insightful readings of three contemporary classics of nature writing—Janisse Ray's Ecology of a Cracker Childhood, Terry Tempest Williams's Refuge: An Unnatural History of Family and Place, and Linda Hogan's Dwellings: A Spiritual History of the Living World—are at the heart of Wohlpart's endeavor. Powerful and affecting works like these reveal a pathway to a deeper remembering, one that reconnects us with the primal forces of creation and acknowledges the sacredness of the world.

We have forgotten that the world around us is rich and fertile and generative, says Wohlpart. His exploration of these literary works, based on deep anthropology and Native American philosophy, opens a pathway into a new way of thinking called sacred reason. Founded on interdependence and interrelationship, and on care and compassion, sacred reason reminds us that divinity exists around us at all times. We are invited to walk, once again, in a land filled with many gods.

Published by: University of Georgia Press

Praise, Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. i-vi


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pp. vii-viii

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pp. ix-x

The founding premise of Walking in the Land of Many Gods is that a creative force animates the universe—a force that became manifest in the Big Bang nearly 14 billion years ago and that led to the formation of Earth 4.5 billion years ago, which in turn fostered a life-sustaining system, call it Gaia or what you will—and that humans, like all animate and less-than-animate beings, ...


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pp. xi-xii


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pp. xiii-xvi

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CHAPTER ONE: Introduction: A Mind of Sky and Thunder and Sun

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pp. 1-11

I remember walking on a dirt road that crossed a steep hillside somewhere in Switzerland. I was with my Opa, my German grandfather. I must have been about four years old. Opa had on his characteristic gray fedora with a blue jay feather stuck in the band. He had removed his shirt, retaining his starch-white A-shirt, so that the sun could warm his bare shoulders. We had left the rest of the family—my parents, an older brother, two sisters, and my...

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CHAPTER TWO: Remembering Deep Space and Deep Time: Heidegger, the Pleistocene, and Native American Philosophy

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pp. 12-46

Around the middle of the 1930s, Heidegger’s thinking took a turn away from an analysis of human being, or Dasein (which found its expression in what is often considered his most important work, Being and Time), to considering the unfolding historical movement of Being in general.1 His exploration of the phenomenon of Being yielded the insight that being becomes manifest...

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CHAPTER THREE: Restor(y)ing the Self: Ecological Restoration in Janisse Ray’s Ecology of a Cracker Childhood

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pp. 47-85

In The Sunflower Forest, William Jordan defines ecological restoration as “the attempt, sometimes breathtakingly successful, sometimes less so, to make nature whole. To do this the restorationist does everything possible to heal the scars and erase the signs of disturbance or disruption.”1 He explains that the work of the restorationist is to restore all aspects of an ecosystem or landscape, including those elements, such as fire or flooding, that might ...

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CHAPTER FOUR: The Long Migration Home: Listening to Birds in Terry Tempest Williams’s Refuge: An Unnatural History of Family and Place

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pp. 86-126

As a work of ecological restoration and the reformation of self, Janisse Ray’s Ecology of a Cracker Childhood reinscribes the longleaf pine ecosystem into existence on a metaphorical or textual level. The restoration of the lost forest in turn creates a value system in the autobiographer such that she is able to rewrite her own childhood, insinuating a close intimacy with the natural world around her, including the vanishing longleaf pine forests. Telling the...

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CHAPTER FIVE: Healing the Severed Trust: Linda Hogan’s Dwellings: A Spiritual History of the Living World as Native Ceremony

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pp. 127-171

In The Sacred Hoop, Paula Gunn Allen identifies two basic forms of Native American literature, the ceremony and the myth. According to Allen, “the ceremony is the ritual enactment of a specialized perception of a cosmic relationship, while the myth is a prose record of that relationship.”1 Both forms have the purpose of locating the individual within an interlocking and interconnected framework that includes the psychological, the social, ...

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CHAPTER SIX: Walking in the Land of Many Gods: Remembering the Mysterious Plenitude of Earth

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pp. 172-180

In the essay “Landscape and Narrative,” Barry Lopez suggests the way in which storytelling acts as a kind of ceremony that heals the rift between our inner and outer worlds. He defines “two landscapes—one outside the self, the other within. The external landscape is the one we see—not only the line and color of the land and its shading at different times of the day, but also its plants and animals in season, its weather, its geology, the record of ...


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pp. 181-194


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pp. 195-200


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pp. 201-203

E-ISBN-13: 9780820345871
E-ISBN-10: 0820345873
Print-ISBN-13: 9780820345239
Print-ISBN-10: 0820345237

Page Count: 256
Publication Year: 2013