Summary of Marty Dodge’s presentation
by Jim Stewart
Ever since his childhood, Martin (M) has been fascinated by nature—wild life in particular. As a child, without knowing why, he was drawn to the woods, fields, and animals. Skeptical of his Protestant upbringing, the forest became his cathedral. He first embraced the idea that Nature was sacred, and a replacement of formal traditional religion, when reading Bron Taylor’s book, Dark Green Religion (DGR)
In the book, Taylor calls for an immediate, massive, and global shift in human consciousness, attendant with sustainable practices towards all of Nature, as the only hope we have to avert the sudden collapse of human societies. The current trends in population growth, climate change, withdrawal of fresh water, fishery declines, breakdown of coral reefs, discharge of toxins into the atmosphere, plant and animal extinctions, fossil fuel use, and mining will surely doom our planet if not checked.
DGR proffers much promise as a potential fix to the situation. Marty’s reading of Dark Green Religion: Nature, Spirituality and the Planetary Future by Bron Taylor won him over. The premise of the book is that Nature is sacred.
Too many people are consuming too much of the world’s resources in a careless fashion. DGR focuses on the idea that climate change happens largely because of human-caused changes in the atmosphere. The culprits are fossil fuel combustion, hydrofracking, and reluctance of humans to do anything until the problem is an immediate threat.
DGR “is biocentric and recognizes all species as valuable irrespective of their usefulness to human beings.” The author is also “critical of the concept of human moral superiority.” Marty shared with us some ideas of Paul Watson, a cofounder of Greenpeace, a radical environmentalist organization. Paul urged people to abandon the world’s dominant religions “on the basis that they promote violence, bigotry, and anthropocentrism with emphasis on superiority and divinity of the human species.”
The rules of DGR include “the requirement for maintenance of biological diversity, recognition of interdependence and interconnectedness between all living things and the totality of their environment, the need for total recycling of nutrients, recognition of the limits of population growth of any species, and recognition of the sustainable carrying capacity of any living system”—that is to say “Natural Laws: the inviolable laws of ecology.”
Marty says Henry David Thoreau “is considered the Ecospiritual elder.” Many consider his works as sacred. Marty mentions other writers, like Ralph Waldo Emerson, John Muir, and Aldo Leopold, who all evoke feelings of reverence. The works of Rachel Carson, Gary Snyder, Thomas Berry, Edward Abbey, and Richard Powers and others also contribute to the development of thought and behavior consistent with the expansion of DGR.
After quoting several of these folks, Marty ends on a positive note, first by describing the source of money to fix the problem: “…less than half of the now more than 2 million dollars a minute the USA spends on the total global war effort, could, if redirected where needed, provide safe water, basic healthcare, primary education, family planning services, and restoration of degraded ecosystems for the entire world.” He emphasized that activists have effected social change in the past and can do it again.
Monday January 14, in the Classics in Religion series. This group is open to all and meets Mondays at 11 a.m. to Noon at the Penn Yan Public Library.
Marty Dodge will discuss a range of spiritual approaches related to sustaining the Natural Environment for the benefit of human society. In recognition of the human impact upon planet Earth that diminishes the ability of the total environment to support people, Marty will draw upon spiritual practices suggested by the elements of Dark Green Religion and Deep Ecology to bring humanity more in tune with Nature. His discussion will also be based upon Bron Taylor’s discussion of Dark Green Religion and Joanna Macy’s practice of Deep Ecology.
The distinguishing and original characteristics of the deep ecology movement were its recognition of the inherent value of all living beings and the use of this view in shaping environmental policies. Those who work for social changes based on this recognition are motivated by love of nature as well as for humans. —Alan Drengson, at the Foundation for Deep Ecology
Facilitator: Marty Dodge
Marty grew up in Connecticut, earned a BA in Chemistry from Colby College and a Forestry degree from Utah State University. He taught middle school science for two years and served aboard the United States Coast Guard cutter Sedge out of Cordova, Alaska, for three years before he assumed his position as a teacher at Finger Lakes Community College. Marty conducted 43 travel ecology courses from FLCC that included 14 month-long expeditions to Alaska. Marty retired from FLCC in 2011 and lives now in Canandaigua. Since 2011, Marty has returned to Alaska every summer to build and reside in his retirement get-away in Wiseman. Marty maintains a YouTube channel with programs relating to rustic construction, travel experiences, poetry recitation, and other topics that approach a total of 500,000 views from people in more than 150 countries.