Exploring the relationship of Ecology & Spirituality
Empowering individuals and faith communities
to live and work in touch with the Earth
EarthLight is a magazine published quarterly by the Unity with Nature Committee
of the Pacific Yearly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends [Quakers]
Study Guide for issue on Economics
[EL #21, Spring 1996]
prepared by Sandra Moon Farley
EarthLight encourages active reading and discussion of the articles contained in each quarterly issue. We offer you some questions or queries to spark discussion or focus response. Study Guides are available through our web page or in print for $1.50 each. You may reproduce in limited quantity for educational purposes.
You may choose to use these queries as prompts for personal meditation, journal writing, or creative composition. It can be a pleasure, however, to gather a small group to share a discussion of the issue.
We suggest that if you meet, you should sit in silence for a minute [or five] at the beginning, letting the Spirit of God be with you in your circle. Choose an article or two to focus on in turn and allow some time for reflection between responses. Enjoy another moment of silent benediction [acknowledged oxymoron] at the conclusion of your session. Be mindful of the time and the attention capacity of your group. More than one session may be scheduled. There is plenty to think, meditate, and talk about.
Page 2 About this issue:
Robert Schutz, guest editor, asks us to bring our faith to economics. So how comfortable are we with Progress? Competition? Greed? Is even desiring a comfortable home and life-style greedy?
Page 3-4 Economic Uprising:
Kurt de Boer and Paul Burks are convinced that NAFTA and GATT are anti-environmental. What about the value of free trade? How are we to become world citizens if we don't trade? Can we combine local loyalty with planetary concern? Are the corporations the new "Holy Roman Emperors"?
Finding the "unlikely coalitions" is exactly what blessed peacemakers do. Who can you suggest as others who can unite on the sustainability issue? What are you doing to create environmental peace?
Page 5 An Economy for the Living Earth
An architect interviewed recently asserted that cities were historically built to be male places. The suburbs were to reflect feminine values. Susan Meeker-Lowry suggests that we have a positive role as environmental planners. How would you redesign your town to be hospitable to young, old. males, females, plants and animals?
Page 6-7 Banking
You have heard of the Grameen Bank making small loans to poor women entrepreneurs with phenomenal success in 3rd world countries. What about our poorer neighborhoods? How can we insure that -- "Future promotion of development must incorporate traditional knowledge, support local decision making structures, and reflect the beliefs and values of local people and the limits of local ecology?"
GDP vs. GPI
This excerpt concludes the GDP is inaccurate. Why is this important? What more infor-mation would you want to see?
Page 10-11 Community Based Economics
How have you simplified your life compared to your neighbors, your parents, your co-workers? What have you done to benefit your local economy? How do we avoid the simpler [holier] than thou attitude as our life differs more sharply from others? Do we have to have a monarchy to go green? In what ways is it easier for Sweden or the Netherlands to take strong environmental steps?
Page 12-13 Earth Saint Henry David Thoreau
Many of the Thoreau quotes are familiar to the point of being American clichˇs. What example of personal integrity does Thoreau set? Environmentalists have used government regulation to improve air quality and water purity, yet Thoreau seems to espouse the Libertarian philosophy. So where is the balance? Gary Nabhan suggests that a routine of meditation on the works of philosophers has a strong benefit. What has been your experience with spiritual discipline of that sort?
Page 14-15 Models
There are working models of sustainable economies. Were we to adopt them, What major changes would be necessary? How do we prepare the way for wholesale change? What difficulties do developed countries have in accepting systems refined by emerging nations?
Page 16-17 Kerala
[see question above]
93% of women attend high school, ZPG approaches, What will the future hold? How is Kerala different from China or Africa? If you were to read Ancient Futures; Learning from Ladakh what would you expect to learn?
Page 18-19 When Corporations Rule the World
Before you go read this book, can you think of three reasons corporations should not rule the world? Now, can you think of three ways they might do a better job than the current rulers? How do we work for a new human future that is just, fulfilling, and sustainable? If these thoughts excite you, go read.
Page 19 Escape
What part of your ego is bottling up your creative potential? What leap of faith will be required for you to escape the cage of your personality?
Page 20-21 Reviews
Which of the books reviewed or sources cited have you already seen? Which two are you most drawn to study? Why?
Page 22-23 Letters
If you read the last issue, on animals, you'll love this section. Anthony Manousos' letter reads well even for first timers. Manitou and Christ, What a wedding! EarthLight invites you to correspond on this quarter's issues.
Back Cover and page 17 $30,000 Solution.
Robert Schutz' proposal is radical in every sense of the word, but intriguing. What in it do you find attractive? What dangers do you see? What opportunities? What would be your best idea for a complete systematic overhaul of the economy to support environmental preser-vation, personal freedom, and spiritual values? Read Bob's book, then write your own!
We hope that these queries have served to enrich your experience with EarthLight. We welcome your comments and submission of articles and poems which may serve to deepen our connection between spirituality and ecology.