Can Literature Save the Earth?

Can literature save the earth? At first glance, this seems like an absurd question, but even if the answer is a definitive "no," it is a question worth asking. One of the absurdities is that hardly anyone reads anymore. How can literature compete with visual media, the internet, or the many forms of idle entertainment our world throws at us? Moreover, who reads serious literature anymore? And why should we expect to learn anything vital about our relationship to the land from creative writing? … [Read more...]

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The Environmental Roots of Our Poor Health

A recent study of health in America noted some curious problems. It turns out that we are less likely to live as long and are more apt to suffer from diseases than all other developed nations. And this disadvantage holds true across the entirety of the American demographic, for all ages and socio-economic classes. You can read about the study here. … [Read more...]

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A Planet Commanded to Our Care

At the inauguration of President Barack Obama, we heard a rather stunning statement:“We, the people, still believe that our obligations as Americans are not just to ourselves, but to all posterity. We will respond to the threat of climate change, knowing that the failure to do so would betray our children and future generations. Some may still deny the overwhelming judgment of science, but none can avoid the devastating impact of raging fires, and crippling drought, and more powerful storms. … [Read more...]

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The Peace That Surpasses All Understanding

I was recently involved in a conversation about stress and anxiety in which we struggled to define these terms. At the time, I said that maybe stress came from an inability to be fully present with the task at hand. That might be correct, but I have since felt there was more to say on the topic. This is mainly because I have been, well, very stressed of late and in need of some clarity on the issue. … [Read more...]

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The Tragic Death of a Young Boy

Tragedy has struck in my community. An 11-year old boy, Alan Zapata, and teammate of my son was playing a futsal game last week and, after scoring a handful of goals and playing his usual aggressive and skillful game, asked to be subbed out. His head hurt. Moments later he collapsed, went into cardiac arrest, and stopped breathing. Someone called 911 immediately and a few adults attempted CPR until the ambulance arrived. After a life-flight to Primary Children’s Hospital and several days in a c … [Read more...]

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A Lecture on Derek Walcott and Theology

This is a video of a lecture I gave almost two years ago at the University of Iowa. The lecture covers the relationship between theology and literature and the role death and dying in Walcott's view of nature. http://clas.uiowa.edu/dwllc/news-events/george-handley-presents-metaphysics-nature-poetry-derek-walcott   … [Read more...]

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In Praise of the Ordinary

I think it is typical to imagine that there are two types of beauty—the natural beauty that the world offers as is and the invented, enhanced pleasures of art. The former is a kind of rawness that surprises us precisely because it does not seem to be made. It has no intention necessarily of being beautiful. It just is. In this category, we might think of the shape of Half Dome in Yosemite or the curvilinear red rock of The Wave in southern Utah. The latter more artificial beauty, of course, very … [Read more...]

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On the Ideologies and Theologies of the Earth: Reprise

In honor of the conclusion of 2012, I thought I would post one of my previous posts, this one from April 20. I chose this post because these issues continue to haunt the land where I live, and I hope it is useful for those who share my concerns for the land to revisit the question of how easily ideology disrupts the logic, ethics, and values that should follow from belief. I don't pretend to have all the answers or to be immune to the seductions of ideology, but I at least think I know the … [Read more...]

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Review of The God Who Weeps: How Mormonism Makes Sense of Life by Terryl and Fiona Givens

 This is a terrific and beautifully written book, one I intend to recommend for many years to come, especially to anyone looking for a thoughtful and well reasoned articulation of the Mormon view of life. Its advantage is that it is not defensive, insular, or triumphal in its tone. It is a view that is offered with a kind of deference to a skeptical reader that somehow manages to not sound patronizing. It is an honest and genuine reflection on the reasonableness and satisfactions of … [Read more...]

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Do We Harm the Earth Out of Indifference or Resentment?

One of the most important premises of environmental thought seems to be that we do damage to the earth because of indifference, ignorance, and apathy, and that the solution, therefore, is to rekindle affections for places, for natural beauty, and for the simple pleasures of the outdoors. In the hands of more romantic thinkers, this formula becomes a kind of quasi-spiritual journey and an argument for a renewed form of animism. If we just paid nature closer attention, it would reveal its spirit … [Read more...]

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