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« Is Regaining the Power of the Eden Story Important for Today? »

Jeff EdwardsSome time ago I asked Jeff Edwards, a friend from days past whom I’d not been in touch with for awhile, whether he’d be willing to take a look at my book manuscript and comment on it. The book, From Egos to Eden (available February 6, 2017), opens with a chapter on the Eden story. But then goes on to talk about the civilizational and ecological crises we are in as a summons to a “heroic journey,” the name for an overall story structure popularized by myth-master, Joseph Campbell (See his Hero with a Thousand Faces, 1949). The subtitle is Our Heroic Journey to Keep Earth Livable.  

I am both surprised and pleased that Jeff focused his remarks on Eden. I had wondered how wise a choice it was for me to put Eden in the title of the book and connect that story to our great work today to keep our planet livable. Writing as I am just days after the election of Donald Trump as the next U.S. president, our work to keep Earth livable has become all the more challenging. Or perhaps his election will trigger such a huge movement of Earth-lovers that more will join humanity’s heroic journey than ever before. Considering how rightest idealogies are on the move worldwide, they may be inadvertently stirring into action millions who feel summoned by Earth to shape Earth-size societies and enclaves. Can we not imagine that happening? Such imagination has great power in the world.

Jeff is now Professor Emeritus (psychology), Northeastern Illinois University, Chicago, IL  Here’s what he says about the book:

What first opened my eyes in this book is Van Ham’s deconstruction of the Eden Myth. Clearly, and supported by researched references, he takes us back to the Augustine’s version of the Eden myth that is not the form of the original version. What a difference, when you see how the original is far from what we have been indoctrinated to believe. Van Ham submits that Nature’s interdependence of all life becomes the renewed version of life. To quote: “In so doing they reconnected with the most powerful worldview possible, one that is holistic in its interdependence of all things.” This is Van Ham’s core thesis. But it is not just a redoing of OneEarth living with respect to maintaining the good earth we have inherited. He shows how the Jewish creation myth counters its contemporary Babylonian creation myth and how the Jewish myth emerges from peace, rather than the violence of deities. We are meant to get along with each other and with the earth that God has provided for us. 

When we think of religion, and the many doctrines and teachings loaded into sacred texts or passed down and transcribed verbally, it is really hard to objectively know what to believe. Van Ham has studied, reinterpreted and brought forth a new old version of OneEarth and that is a good thing. 

Our world today is scattered with various ideologies that lead us to believe whatever our culture, family, religion, and social group tells us is true. We fit those ideas into the behavior and actions we then act out in our real life. There have been several clear thinking folks lately who seem to me speaking a truth that rings correct for where we are today. Assuming that God, or whatever you chose to believe in, is still speaking, these prophets of today, have listened, choosing to insure a better Eden, and spoken clear ideas with potential for leading us to a OneEarth living.  Lee Van Ham is one of those people. 



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