BOOK REVIEWS

 

 

AWAKE IN THE WILD
Mindfulness in Nature
As A Path of Self-Discovery
By Mark Coleman
While all of us have access to nature’s wisdom, because of our high-tech lives, we have lost the sensitivity and ability to listen to, feel and sense the natural world. Computers, cell phones and cars surround us. These items are a challenge to us, as well as tough on the environment. Being in nature helps to calm the everyday thinking mind. Practicing the art of mindfulness outdoors is a profound way to deepen our receptivity to the world.

Whether you are new to the art of meditation or are familiar with it, this book contains detailed guided meditations and techniques that will help you to develop a meditative awareness and connection with nature. If you are already a nature lover or just beginning to take an interest in developing a connection with the world outside, this book will help you to develop ways that facilitate more understanding and contentment in the natural world.

Author Mark Coleman, a teacher who leads workshops and retreats around the world, believes that we are only half awake in our life without awareness of a bigger perspective. He blends a Buddhist practice in nature with environmental activism. His message is that we can turn the tides of mindlessness and distraction simply by engaging in regular contact with nature in order to develop a spiritual connection to the natural world. Once we begin to be more at peace with the outside world, we can begin to appreciate the intricate web of life around us and within us.

Published by Inner Ocean Publishing, this book is available at your local bookstore or at www.innerocean.com

Reviewed by Sonia von Matt Stoddard

 

EVENING THOUGHTS
Reflecting on Earth As Sacred Community
By Thomas Berry
The sometimes frenzied pace of modernization and industrialization throughout the twentieth century has resulted in a critical turning point in our history. However, it is possible that humans can find their authentic role as participants in our sacred earth by understanding the larger creativity of the universe.

This new collection of essays by author Thomas Berry, professor, founder and director of a university religious program, offers some deep thought provocation along with hopeful insight. Berry has spent decades immersed in European, Western and Asian history and has devoted the last three out of his (so far) total nine on this earth devoted to contemplating earth and universe history. His goal is to preserve creativity amid the destructive current of our times.

The book is divided into three sections. The first deals with our current environmental crisis, our existing state and earth as a sacred community. The second part highlights some specific challenges, such as global warming, political implications and legal issues. The third does not provide any specific solution; however, it outlines our responsibility to our spiritual community. It gives us suggestions for contemplative thought and inspiration, and encouragement to continue to establish our role as humans, in harmony and integration with our society as a whole.

Published by Sierra Club Books, this book is available at your local bookstore or at www.ucpress.edu

Reviewed by Sonia von Matt Stoddard

 

STOP GLOBAL WARMING
THE SOLUTION IS YOU!
An Activist’s Guide
By Laurie David
Author Laurie David has been known to yell at people in the street for driving low-gas-mileage sports utility vehicles. A self-proclaimed, outspoken environmentalist and unstoppable global warming activist, it is her hope that you too will realize that you are an environmentalist as well. By reading this book, you will have the tools to become one.

David believes we are all entitled to clean air and water. She claims we have less than ten years to save our planet as most warnings to date, by respectable scientists, have been ignored. After a brief discussion about the science and evidence, including “cold hard facts” citing 2005 as the warmest year on record, and a mention of Hurricane Katrina, she goes on to tell us how she came to be an activist. David cites specific measures that each of us can take, as well as examples, to make a difference.

This is an extremely short book, but is packed with statistics and technical information, including a list of resources, websites and environmental groups. In the end, the message is one of hope as it is evident the author believes in her cause, encourages us to take action and give us the tools we need to help us help our planet.

Published by Fulcrum Publishing, this book is available at your local bookstore or www.fulcrumbooks.com

Reviewed by Sonia von Matt Stoddard

 

THE WAY INTO JUDAISM AND THE ENVIRONMENT
By Jeremy Benstein, PhD
As the title proclaims, this book provides the way into an essential aspect of Judaism and allows you to interact directly with the sacred texts of the Jewish tradition. It avoids denominational issues, but rather takes aim at elucidation and inspiration, as opposed to interpretation. It is intended to inspire us to gain renewed insight as to how we are to care for creation, taking into account an environmental approach, as well as the Jewish approach to the earth’s current dilemmas and questions.

Author Jeremy Benstein, PhD is a founder and director of the Heschel Center for Environmental Learning and Leadership and holds a master’s degree in rabbinic literature, as well as a doctorate in environmental anthropology.

Included here are discussions on the current environmental crises and how religion may be both the original problem as well as the solution. Benstein directs us to specific passages and readings as well as traditional sources and resources throughout religious history. The beginning chapters deal with texts and issues revolving around the mundane aspects of our physical life, while the later chapters begin to discuss the question of our rest: how, when and why we rest from our labors.

With an inspiring blend of religion and science, Benstein shares contemporary insights from ancient teachings and offers us a springboard for thought and contemplation, as well as a belief that through continued research, we can all be valuable resources in healing our world.

Published by Jewish Lights Publishing, this book is available at your local bookstore or at www.jewishlights.com

Reviewed by Sonia von Matt Stoddard

 

BE THE CHANGE YOU WANT TO SEE IN THE WORLD
By Julie Fisher-McGarry
This is a green living guide for anyone who aspires to choose carefully and consciously, rather than consume and go along with the status-quo.
The information-packed book with practical monthly checklists, vegan recipes and ideas for organic housecleaning, makes it easier to live compassionately and in harmony with one another and all living things.

The author offers 365 ways to live a sustainable environmentally-responsible lifestyle, written in a daily journal form. She makes the point that individual acts really do matter and that living green is living well. Her own personal anecdotes, poetry, health tips, environmental facts and green thoughts are things she says we can do to make a positive impact on the world.

A full year of educational tidbits for living a healthier, compassionate lifestyle are presented, with some ideas being easier to embrace than others. For example, some chapter topics are “Awakening to the New Year”, “Kindness Does Matter”, “Celebrate All Life”, “Nature Renewed”, “Go Where Your Heart Draws You”, and “Honor and Respect the Creatures”.

There are many beneficial ideas throughout and if one chooses to follow them, the author maintains that small positive changes we make within ourselves will make a big impact on others and the planet.

Published by Conari Press, this book is available in most bookstores or at: www.conari.com

Reviewed by Kathy DeSantis

 

IT'S EASY BEING GREEN
By Crissy Trask
This busy person’s guide to greener living is a handy new book full of helpful resources, tips, habits and reasons to conserve natural resources, decrease air and water pollutants, and cleanse our communities of unnecessary waste. It includes a tremendous amount of relevant data and resources for all things environmentally friendly, presented in an easy-to-read and whimsical way.

The author advises consumers on everyday things like purchasing groceries, home appliances, and personal care products. She also offers alternative methods that cause less harm to the environment.
For those aspiring to the most efficient and cost-effective method of conserving and protecting the environment, or who have an eco-friendly home and garden, this book also offers lists of “green” online retailers, resources and organizations aimed to educate everyone about environmental causes.

This earth-savvy book will offer people the opportunity to live green, and to make changes in their own habits which will improve the health of our planet.
Crissy Trask is the proprietor of GreenMatters, a business started in 1999 to advance environmental education and activism online. Visit: www.GreenMatters.com

Published by Gibbs Smith, this book is available at your local bookstore or at: www.gibbssmith.com  

Reviewed by Kathy DeSantis


Return to the March/April Index page