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Engaging Voices

Tales of Morality and Meaning in an Age of Global Warming

By Roger S. Gottlieb

Publication Year: 2011

Our ecological dilemmas provoke powerful emotions and deeply contested views. How should we think about them? And how can we live together, or even talk together, when we cannot listen to people who think differently?

In a lively and at times very funny book, Roger S. Gottlieb (A Greener Faith, This Sacred Earth, A Spirituality of Resistance) explores these questions in a collection of distinct but related philosophical short stories. Fictional characters with personalities, individual histories, and strong opinions wrestle with the meaning of life, the value of nature, animal rights, the roles of science and religion in environmentalism, and political choices facing environmental activists—as well as their own anger, fear, despair, and close-mindedness. Encountering forcefully articulated positions and engaging characters, readers will be moved to reconsider their own beliefs—and to examine personal barriers to truly listening to those “on the other side."

Engaging Voices: Tales of Morality and Meaning in an Age of Global Warming received the Silver Nautilus Book Award for Fiction in 2013.

Published by: Baylor University Press


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p. 1-1

Epigraph, Copyright, Title Page, Dedication

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pp. 2-7


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pp. vii-9

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Introduction: The Stories of Samuel Prana

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pp. 1-12

I met Samuel Prana some years ago. I had been giving lectures— at universities, churches, civic groups—about religion and the environmental crisis. I’d begin by describing some ecological problems: not just in abstract terms that people could shrug off,..

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1. Why Am I Alive?

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pp. 13-39

“Remember,” her brother Ned had told her, “these are not your ordinary students. There are murderers, rapists, people inside for political violence or massive white-collar fraud that cost thousands of people their pensions. They are angry, bitter, well defended....

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2. Choose

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pp. 41-61

The room was shabby, but Richard was used to it—and a dozen rooms just like it. Old wooden chairs, political posters on paint-peeling walls (“Save the Bay,” “Universal Health Care,” “End the Occupation,” “Eat the Rich”), scuffed linoleum floor, and, this...

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3. What Is to Be Done?

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pp. 63-90

Lily knew she couldn’t go on anymore. Still, she was scared about how they would respond. Maybe she should leave without telling anyone, just not show up. But she couldn’t do that. She would have to go to the meeting and tell them she was leaving the...

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4. Pass the Turkey

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pp. 91-110

Bright November sunshine flooded into the Bertrams’ living room as Kate entered, mumbling Thanksgiving greetings to her family: parents, two brothers, and, straight out of central casting, a gentle, alcoholic uncle. Her withdrawn, downcast hellos surprised...

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5. Whose Woods Are These?

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pp. 111-136

The rain drummed mercilessly on the tin roof. Sarah peeked out hopefully, searching for a hint of brightening, but if she was going to be honest about it, she had to admit there wasn’t any. This was the second morning she’d been here, stuck in this three-sided...

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6. Need to Know

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pp. 137-161

The Chancellor drummed his fingers on the expensive antique wooden desk. Was he nervous—or impatient, Stephan wondered. Stephan would have thought he would be happy for once. It’s not every day that the university gets a thirty-million-dollar...

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7. Face Off

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pp. 163-174

Charles looked at his watch impatiently, took another sip from his water glass, and grimaced. He adjusted his tie, which didn’t need adjusting, ran his fingers though the sparse gray hair above his right ear, and then noticed, with sharp irritation, how...

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8. Despair: In Four Acts

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pp. 175-210

One by one they come, carrying their woes—in battered duffle bags, elegant black suitcases, tan canvas shopping bags from Holistic Foods and The Body’s Shoppe. Each of them has a story to tell, a reason for the lines of pain on their faces, their...

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9. Feeling Left Out?

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pp. 211-219

Those were Samuel’s stories. My first reaction was, not bad, as such things go. I mean, they weren’t really philosophy, but they did touch on some good points along the way. If he hadn’t put in all those details about this one’s unhappy childhood and that one’s...

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The End?

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pp. 221-224

“Roger,” she said, in a soft, hesitant voice, not sure if it was her place to speak but nevertheless having something to say. “I’ve been still wondering about those stories, that book you loaned me. And . . .”...


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pp. 225-237

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pp. 239-240

Many people were kind enough to read drafts of this book and tell me what they thought, encourage me that it was worthwhile, and make very helpful suggestions. I am indebted to them all: Miriam Greenspan, John Sanbonmatsu, Seamus Carey, Nick...

E-ISBN-13: 9781481300445
E-ISBN-10: 148130044X
Print-ISBN-13: 9781602582606
Print-ISBN-10: 1602582602

Page Count: 248
Publication Year: 2011