Tales of Morality and Meaning in an Age of Global Warming
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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Epigraph, Copyright, Title Page, Dedication
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Introduction: The Stories of Samuel Prana
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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, about “body burden”—the hundreds of toxic chemicals you can find in the blood of newborn babies; or the Great Pacific Garbage ...
1. Why Am I Alive?
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...“Why are you alive? Why are you alive?” The strange phrase kept repeating itself in Kate’s head, and she had a hard time getting her mind around it. What kind of a question was this? But it was, after all, what she was supposed to “Remember,” her brother Ned had told her, “these are not your ordinary students. There are murderers, rapists, people inside for ...
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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 was a definite plus, a large blackboard covering one wall. Why, he wondered, do we always have the crappy rooms, and the people we ...
3. What Is to Be Done?
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Lily knew she couldn’t go on anymore. Still, she was scared about how they would respond. Maybe she should leave with-out 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 people, some from Fred’s church, and even a few representatives of the black community, interested in having a tie-in for minori-...
4. Pass the Turkey
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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 cast-ing, a gentle, alcoholic uncle. Her withdrawn, downcast hellos sur-“I just saw the most horrible thing. There was this truck stopped at an intersection near 54th Street. On the outside it had signs about ...
5. Whose Woods Are These?
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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 ised to be brilliant this week in October, but instead the heavens had opened and all anyone had seen were thick clouds and buckets ...
6. Need to Know
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The Chancellor drummed his fingers on the expensive antique wooden desk. Was he nervous—or impatient, Stephan won-It’s not every day that the university gets a thirty-million-dollar donation, not in these times, or any times really. Thirty million and no strings attached—except one: it had to be used to set up one coherent program at the university—with research, courses, ...
7. Face Off
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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 nervous he was. What was there to be nervous about, he wondered. It’s just a man having dinner with his son in a nice restaurant. Why ...
8. Despair: In Four Acts
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Buried in the frozen landscape of despair, there is usually a seed One by one they come, carrying their woes—in battered duf-fle 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 around, taking in each other’s presence. Does it make it less lonely ...
9. Feeling Left Out?
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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 neurosis, he would have had a lot more room for serious arguments. wonder if I wasn’t missing the point, or a whole lot of points. So I ...
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So that’s it. Or at least I thought that was it until last week, when I got a call from Aamina.“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 what I don’t understand is this word ‘spiritual’ that you ...
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Many people were kind enough to read drafts of this book and tell me what they thought, encourage me that it was worth-while, and make very helpful suggestions. I am indebted to them should try to make it more like Dostoevsky,” I can only say I’m still versity Press, for initial interest in a Quite Different type of book, and for unflinching criticism delivered with a gentle touch. It has ...
Page Count: 248
Publication Year: 2011