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Dark Green Religion: Nature Spirituality and the Planetary Future Paperback – October 26, 2009

4.1 out of 5 stars 22 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews



"Names levels of spirituality that are often unacknowledged, unattended to, or rejected, and demonstrates how a new global spirituality (DGR) is becoming a force for positive change on our planet."--"Isle: Interdis Stds In Lit & Environ"

"Dark Green Religion is intelligent, well-written, and very much worth reading."--"Worldviews"

"This ambitious work seeks to set forth a new religious tradition characterized by its central concern for the fate of the planet."--"Nova Religio: the Journal of Alternative & Emergent Religions"

"Taylor aims to illustrate the existence of an ideological current in contemporary North American society that has nature as its focus, and to argue that this is socially and politically significant."--Emma Tomalin"Environment & History" (11/01/2011)

Taylor aims to illustrate the existence of an ideological current in contemporary North American society that has nature as its focus, and to argue that this is socially and politically significant. --Emma Tomalin"Environment & History" (11/01/2011)"

From the Inside Flap

“A love of green may be a human universal. Deepening the palette of green scholarship, Bron Taylor proves remarkably to be both an encyclopedist and a visionary.”—Jonathan Benthall, author of Returning to Religion: Why a Secular Age is Haunted by Faith

"This important book provides insight into how a profound sense of relation to nature offers many in the modern world a vehicle for attaining a spiritual wholeness akin to what has been historically associated with established religion. In this sense, Dark Green Religion offers both understanding and hope for a world struggling for meaning and purpose beyond the isolation of the material here and now."—Stephen Kellert, Yale University School of Forestry and Environmental Studies

"In this thought-provoking volume, Bron Taylor explores the seemingly boundless efforts by human beings to understand the nature of life and our place in the universe. Examining in depth the ways in which influential philosophers and naturalists have viewed this relationship, Taylor contributes to the further development of thought in this critically important area, where our depth of understanding will play a critical role in our survival."—Peter H. Raven, President, Missouri Botanical Garden

"Carefully researched, strongly argued, originally conceived, and very well executed, this book is a vital contribution on a subject of immense religious, political, and environmental importance. It's also a great read."—Roger S. Gottlieb, author of A Greener Faith: Religious Environmentalism and our Planet's Future

"A fascinating analysis of our emotional and spiritual relationship to nature. Whether you call it dark green religion or something else, Bron Taylor takes us through our spiritual relationship with our planet, its ecosystems and evolution, in an enlightened and completely undogmatic manner."—Dr. Claude Martin, Former Director General, World Wildlife Fund

"An excellent collection of guideposts for perplexed students and scholars about the relationships of nature religions, spirituality, animism, pantheism, deep ecology, Gaia, and land ethics—and for the environmentalist seeking to make the world a better place through green religion as a social force."—Fikret Berkes, author of Sacred Ecology: Traditional Ecological Knowledge and Resource Management

"Dark Green Religion shows conclusively how nature has inspired a growing religious movement on the planet, contesting the long reign of many older faiths. Taylor expertly guides us through an astonishing array of thinkers, past and present, who have embraced, in part or whole, the new religion. I was thoroughly convinced that this movement has indeed become a major force on Earth, with great potential consequences for our environmental ethics."—Donald Worster, University of Kansas

"In this exceptionally interesting and informative book, Bron Taylor has harvested the fruits of years of pioneering research in what amounts to a new field in religious studies: the study of how religious/spiritual themes show up in the work of people concerned about nature in many diverse ways. Taylor persuasively argues that appreciation of nature's sacred or spiritual dimension both informs and motivates the work of individuals ranging from radical environmentalists and surfers, to eco-tourism leaders and museum curators. I highly recommend this book for everyone interested learning more about the surprising extent to which religious/spiritual influences many of those who work to protect, to exhibit, or to represent the natural world."—Michael E. Zimmerman, Director, Center for Humanities and the Arts, University of Colorado at Boulder

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 360 pages
  • Publisher: University of California Press (October 26, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0520261003
  • ISBN-13: 978-0520261006
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.8 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #249,579 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is truly a remarkable work that has connected many isolated dots that have long belonged together. At first glance, Edmund Burke, radical "eco-terrorists," the Little Mermaid, surfers, Alice Walker, Spinoza and Al Gore might seem to have little in common, but Taylor brings these and many other influential persons, places and things together into a loose but convicted community of phenomena that all share a common belief: the notion that nature has intrinsic value and is worthy of reverent care. "Dark green religion" may be a new phrase, but Taylor shows that it is an ancient force that has been rumbling in the depths of human consciousness for centuries. Now, in 2010, in the context of our growing incredulity regarding revealed religions and our increasing anxieties over the ecological crisis that confronts us, the elements that comprise dark green religion just might be poised to make their way to the forefront.

In his work, Taylor serves as an erudite and impassioned tour guide of the "deep roots and modern expressions" of this hitherto unnamed religion, providing, along with his powerful yet undogmatic analysis, an instructive compendium of ideas and actions that cogently legitimize dark green religion as a concept with significant explanatory power. Through this book we hear of 18th-century philosophers expressing sensations of oceanic unity, modern-day mainstream scientists reflecting upon the "being-ness" of trees, surfers earnestly scrambling to find words to explain the satori that occurs inside the tube of a wave, and Disney's Pocahontas imploring Western colonialists to stop and "ask the grinning bobcat why he grins." It is precisely this diversity of thinkers coupled with the synchronicity of their thoughts that makes Taylor's thesis so compelling.
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Format: Paperback
In the opening pages of this book, dark green religion (DGR) is defined as the belief that nature is sacred, has intrinsic value, and deserves reverent care. It is then divided into four varieties based on two choices: naturalism or spiritualism, and animism or Gaian. These merge and overlap, and I didn't find the division served much purpose except to make the DGR term an inclusive one. They are however enjoyably explored by looking at the beliefs of people the author places in the different types.

A look at the growth of DGR in North America is done primarily through the works of Thoreau and Muir. Of Thoreau, Taylor writes, "He is properly considered to be the most important innovator of American environmental thought." Eight themes of DGR found in Thoreau's writing are explored with a twenty page appendix of Thoreau excerpts presented as evidence. Muir doesn't get his own appendix but his importance is stressed, especially in terms of his effect on environmental activism.

A chapter on radical environmentalism provided many names to explore as sources of ideas in a wide range of fields from ethics to anarchism and science to psychology. This is also the first book I've read with information about Bill Rogers, the ELF activist who apparently killed himself in jail in 2005. The info is less about him as an individual than about the photocopied material he included in a couple compilations he distributed. This chapter also has a powerful excerpt from Paul Watson. The full article is in The Encyclopedia Of Religion And Nature which Taylor edited.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
In Dark Green Religion, Bron Taylor has given us a well-conceived, highly detailed, and profoundly grounded portrait of a global movement to save nature. No other writer comes within light years of Taylor's personal experience with the environmental movement's most radical elements or can claim a more even-handed analysis of the spiritual meaning of the still-evolving movement now struggling to find salvation for our planet in religious terms. His long career as a university professor of religion tempers what could easily have become an insignificant rant but emerges as a deeply felt and vivid exploration of the "nature spirituality" in the book's subtitle.
Readers will admire the care Taylor gives to explaining why he considers the growing social and political spiritual/environmental movement to be a religion (or religious) and how important it is to see it in the religious terms in which its adherents see it. Readers will also thank Taylor for his intellectual honesty in choosing "Dark" as the first word in the title, meaning both the darker, deeper shade of green in nature spirituality and the sense of planetary emergency that could drive adherents to global violence. This book takes on some very tough questions that we all need to think about.
Critics will disagree with Taylor's views on the intrinsic value of nature that he champions, citing the intrinsic value of humans that he seems to scant. I have known Taylor enough years to advise them not to underestimate his human compassion.
Even though I disagree with a number of Taylor's views and conclusions about industrial civilization - as I am sure some readers will also - I respect his judgment sufficiently to ask his critique of points in my own writings before I send them to my editor. He has been a good friend to me, and I am reasonably sure that most readers will feel the same about him after reading this magisterial work, which is a virtual Guide for the Perplexed in the 21st Century..
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