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Spiritual Ecology: A Quiet Revolution Hardcover – Jul 19 2012

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 285 pages
  • Publisher: Praeger (July 19 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0313364095
  • ISBN-13: 978-0313364099
  • Product Dimensions: 15.7 x 2.8 x 23.6 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 635 g
  • Average Customer Review: Be the first to review this item
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #339,370 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description


"This is a valuable and challenging work that deserves wide reading and consideration." - Current Anthropology

"Summing Up: Recommended. All levels/libraries." - Choice

"[T]he book . . . [has] value as a compendium of diverse material so presented as to promote a worthy cause." - Human Ecology

"This is a wide-ranging and impressively informed book. . . . The book brings into comparative focus a splendid collection of spiritually inspired persons and movements whose exemplary ideas, convictions, and actions have significant bearing on the field of environmental thought and action." - Journal for the Study of Religion, Nature and Culture


"This is a subject that should have been documented long ago―this wise and careful book fills an important gap, and does it with real power." (Bill McKibben, Author Eaarth)

"This book is a tour de force. No one has attempted to bring together such a wide range of people and movements under the rubric of Spiritual Ecology. The result is deeply engaging for scholars and activists alike. Sponsel has given us a gem." (Mary Evelyn Tucker, Forum on Religion and Ecology, Yale University)

"Sponsel, a noted scholar of ecological anthropology, traces a broad, ecumenical 'religion of nature' from deep roots in the past to modern advanced thinkers. He argues persuasively that we would not have an environmental crisis today if we treated the earth with respect and reverence. The book offers a fascinating tour through the spiritual landscape, and its extensive notes give readers a rich guide to further reading and reflection." (Donald Worster, Author of A Passion for Nature: The Life of John Muir)

"Spiritual Ecology is essential reading today, when most of the world seems swept up by the economic dimensions of the environment. Providing a welcome antidote to the current materialistic approach, Leslie Sponsel's keen reminder of the spiritual component of nature is both timely and a reminder that the most effective reasons for conservation come from the heart, not from the wallet." (Jeffrey A. McNeely, Senior Science Advisor, International Union for Conservation of Nature)

"Leslie Sponsel's new book is an excellent guide to spiritual ecology. It is much more: it is an evocation of spiritual ecology―its forms, its dynamic development, and its promise for the contemporary world. Dr. Sponsel, a leading authority on this field, provides a historical overview of the development of ecological and environmental visions in religion from earliest times to the present. He surveys major religions, and, in particular detail, modern writers who have developed new philosophical understandings of religion-environment relationships. This book serves both as a wonderful introduction to the field and an inspiring essay on the basic tenets, values, and goals of spiritual ecology." (E. N. Anderson, Professor of Anthropology, Emeritus, University of California, Riverside)

"In a world where religious beliefs are too often seen as the source of deadly tension and violent conflict, Leslie Sponsel's Spiritual Ecology offers a helpful and healing contrary view. Aptly subtitled, A Quiet Revolution, this provocative collection of essays serves as key resource and guide to the global sources of inspiration, thought, and action that collectively constitute a life-sustaining path for humanity." (Barbara Rose Johnston, Senior Research Fellow, Center for Political Ecology, Santa Cruz, California)

"Spiritual Ecology is a must read for anyone interested in having harmonious and peaceful relationships with (M)other Nature. As we rewild our hearts we must feel the deep interconnections that exist between ourselves and other beings and diverse and magnificent landscapes. The quiet revolution must begin and end in our heart. We suffer the indignities to which we subject animals and Earth and everyone benefits when we openly and widely express dignity, respect, kindness, compassion, peace, and love." (Marc Bekoff, University of Colorado; Author of The Emotional Lives of Animals, Wild Justice, and The Animal Manifesto: Six Reasons For Expanding Our Compassion Footprint)

"I am delighted with this inspiring panoramic introduction to the remarkable people who have personally contributed to the on-going 'quiet revolution' that will help solve our contemporary problems of conflict, poverty, and environmental degradation. This source book could only have been produced by an anthropologist with firsthand experience with life in the tribal world and in the ancient great civilization cultural traditions of South and Southeast Asia. This an absolute treasure trove of cross-cultural ideas and sources for beliefs and practices that respond constructively to global environmental problems and related social justice issues. I immediately went to the library and the Internet to learn even more about particular organizations and people. As an anthropologist who has been concerned with indigenous people and the environment for many years, I am especially pleased with how sensitively Sponsel treats the 'ecologically noble savage' issue, and the well-deserved importance he gives to animist beliefs generally." (John H. Bodley, Regents Professor of Anthropology, Washington State University)

"Sponsel beautifully integrates the different dimensions of spiritual ecology: theology, morality, social movement, and personal experience; and he does so with a fine eye to its global and multicultural nature. This always clear and often moving book deserves wide readership and serious attention. " (Roger S. Gottlieb, Author of A Greener Faith and Engaging Voices)

"Humans possess an inherent inclination to find meaning and purpose through their relation to the world beyond themselves, to what we call nature. This marvelous and informative book explores this need from its roots in tribal cultures through its expression and distortion in the modern era. It is only recently that people have come to believe human progress and civilization means transforming and transcending our evolutionary roots in the natural world. This book importantly explores and leads the way toward a new movement, 'spiritual ecology,' bringing us back to our spiritual roots in nature." (Stephen R. Kellert, Tweedy Ordway Professor Emeritus, Yale University, School of Forestry and Environmental Studies)

"Leslie Sponsel's Spiritual Ecology is a great guide to the wide landscape of the environmental movement. The book brings together the scientific philosophical, political and religious aspects of environmentalism. If you want to see a bigger picture of the multi-dimensional view of sustainability and spirituality then this is the book for you; it is informative, educative and evocative." (Satish Kumar, Editor-in-Chief, Resurgence Magazine)

"As Sponsel so ably demonstrates, there has always been a dimension of environmentalist thought that is founded on the understanding, explicit or implicit, that nature is sacred. As activists and policy makers seek ways of averting environmental disaster, the time is overdue for this mode of thought to enter the mainstream. This much needed book provides the kind of understanding that might help it to do so." (Kay Milton, Professor Emerita, Queen's University Belfast)

"Whether one agrees or disagrees with the themes or theses presented within this book, it is bound to become one of the foundational pioneering texts in the spiritual ecology movement. It is written in a dramatic manner with personal insights from ethnographic research along with details regarding the main personalities, both religious and secular, who have contributed to this movement. " (Raymond Scupin, Director, Center for International and Global Studies, Lindenwood University)

"At a moment in history when political and technological solutions to the environmental crisis has been shown to have their limits, Leslie Sponsel has compiled a wonderful collection of essays on a spiritual approach to ecology. Fundamentally re-envisioning the relationship between the human and nature, Spiritual Ecology draws on the wisdom and practical insights of global spiritual traditions from antiquity to the present. This is a foundational text that includes inspirational classics as well as critical essays that explore how a spiritual ecology can deeply inform our debates about our relationship to our planet." (Duncan Williams, Chair, School of Religion, University of Southern California)

"Awareness that the natural world is our essential ground of being, to be revered as sacred, goes back to the dawn of the human journey. Today this awareness returns in the growing recognition that we cannot fully face or adequately respond to what our species is doing to the biosphere without a spiritual apprehension of our non-separateness from it. That is the quiet revolution to which Leslie Sponsel's Spiritual Ecology brings a fresh and fascinating overview. To the unfolding history it provides, this lean and lovely book takes the archetypal form of Tree, letting us follow―from roots to branches, leaves and fruit―the organic emergence of our native wisdom." (Joanna Macy, PhD, Author, Active Hope: How to Face the Mess we're in Without Going Crazy)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) HASH(0x9be99008) out of 5 stars 7 reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9b244648) out of 5 stars Because the secular approach is simply not enough Feb. 20 2014
By Roger E. Breisch - Published on
Format: Hardcover
Perhaps the author says it best: "More often than not secular approaches to ecocrises have proven insufficient although certainly necessary. Perhaps a spiritual approach will serve as a catalyst to finally turn things around for the better because the ecocrisis is ultimately a spiritual and moral crisis."

By now it must be clear we are in desperate need of new ways to envision the problems we face...and new ways to listen for solutions. While there are those who argue that spiritual traditions are responsible for humanity's moral and ethical separation from nature, Les Sponsel shows otherwise. He helps the reader walk the path of history, and illuminates the ideas and people who have, over the centuries, tried to show us the error of our ways.

I loved what he taught me about the role played by luminaries such as The Buddha, St. Francis of Assisi, Henry David Thoreau, John Muir and Rudolf Steiner...and I value having been introduced to the current vanguard carrying the torch of spiritual approaches to our ecocrisis.

I particularly appreciate learning of the diversity of thinking throughout human history, and how that rich blend of thinking continues today. Clearly, the future, if we are to witness it, requires very new ways of envisioning the species and its relationship to the rest of nature.

If you wish to learn more about the context of how spiritual thought relates to ecology, this book is essential reading.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9ba7cca8) out of 5 stars Spiritual Evolutionary Consciousness Nov. 26 2013
By James L. Facette - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
For some time I have been focused on the dire predictions for humanity, the more-than human community, and the planet, as a result of the seemingly inexorable march of Climate Change/Global Warming toward irreversible tipping-points. It is indeed devastating to realize that we humans are undoing the creative Earth evolution of four billion years in a few short centuries. Spiritual Ecology: A Quiet Revolution has opened for me a renewed hope that we can indeed reverse the downward slide by focusing on the positive possibilities, envisioning and reshaping of ourselves, pursuing a shift in consciousness. The questions for humanity are: What is Nature? What is the place of humans in Nature? What should be the place of humans in Nature? We must remember how to be a human being in relationship to the natural world, to our home. Here is some optimism in what otherwise so often appears to be a rather dismal world with an ever more dismal future for humankind and Gaia.

“The author tells us: “The key message of the book is twofold. First secular approaches to environmental concerns are absolutely necessary and have made great strides, but they have not been sufficient. Second, the multitude of diverse approaches under the rubric of spiritual ecology may well be the last chance for the survival of our species. We are likely to see whether or not the intellectual and practical components of spiritual ecology will help turn the environmental situation around for the better within a few decades, especially in the face of the increasing pressures of global climate change (assuming that this does not reach a catastrophic tipping point). Perhaps a spiritual approach will serve as a catalyst to finally turn things around for the better because the ecocrisis is ultimately a spiritual and moral crisis.

The book is revolutionary, non-violent and decentralized—a devastating critique of the industrial growth society as a seriously unsustainable, maladaptive, dysfunctional, and destructive system. “Only in the long term will the passage of time reveal the destiny of the human species and the planet. But ultimately the matter is simple: a choice between ecocide or ecosanity”!

A quote from the profound thinker, writer, revolutionary dissident and former president of Czechoslovakia Vaclav Havel testifies: “What could change the direction of today’s civilization? It is my deep conviction that the only option is a change in the sphere of the spirit, in the sphere of human conscience. It’s not enough to invent new machines, new regulations, new institutions. We must develop a new understanding of the true purpose of our existence on the Earth. Only by making such a fundamental shift will we be able to create new models of behavior and a new set of values for the planet”.
4 of 7 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9b26472c) out of 5 stars Brilliant book by a pioneering intellectual Sept. 8 2012
By C.F.G. - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
As a doctoral student dedicated to improving the quality of life for humans and all other species, and as someone who has been in personal contact with Dr. Les Sponsel, I can attest that this book is visionary, necessary, and compelling.

Dr. Sponsel is almost single-handedly responsible for creating and popularizing the scientific study of how human interaction with the environment eflects and affects our spiritual, emotional, and physical health.

He is the rare kind of scholar that every graduate student loves to have as a graduate advisor and mentor. Dr. Sponsel doesn't just write and research about ethics, spirituality, and our life on this planet, he works 24/7 to help our world, his students, and academia.

Dr. Sponsel's breadth of knowledge, attention to detail, academic expertise, and courage are among the reasons this book contains a unique exploration of the multi-faceted interface between humans and the earth.

In this book you'll find plenty of new information, perspectives and opportunities to truly understand the power of humans to turn our planet into a Garden of Eden, or a paved-over, ruined paradise.

I was especially moved by the book's very appropriate closing chapter, which focuses on ecology and the Dalai Lama. This chapter is a brilliant summing up of what I get from this book, which is that humans have reached a level of power and technology that allows us to behave as gods. What we do to each other and the planet is a moral and spiritual issue that each of us can consider personally and intellectually.

Will human powers be used to further the goals of angels, or devils? Will we cannibalize this planet and all its creatures in our relentless desire to build more shopping malls, or will we become kinder, gentler and more compassionate towards each other, other species, and the earth?

Dr. Sponsel's book will help you answer those questions, and build a better future. Order a copy today.
3 of 6 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9b130fb4) out of 5 stars Spiritual Ecology is alive! Join the Revolution . . . Oct. 29 2012
By David Adams - Published on
Format: Hardcover
In a world plagued by religious fanaticism and blind faith, Dr. Sponsel shows us a kinder, "greener" side of spiritual development. Based on an exhaustive review of the world's religions in theory and practice, Dr. Sponsel demonstrates religion is less "many paths up the same mountain" and more many sacred mountains, caves, and rivers traversed by a species in search of itself.

This book will appeal to both the academic and the seeker alike. There are gems of wisdom that can be lifted from the page and applied to one's own daily practice. Dr. Sponsel gives us hope that the flipped coin of humanity still has a chance to land feet first should the sacred landscapes both endure and inform who we are as individuals and a culture.

Spiritual Ecology envisions a world where progress is measured by an inward compass rather than "leading economic indicators."
0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9b2bff48) out of 5 stars Overpriced. Not what I expected. Oct. 2 2015
By Anne U. - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
173 pages of short biographies of environmentalists through the ages. 30 pages of footnotes. 100 pages of bibliography. Not what I expected for the price of this book. I will donate it to the library as it may be helpful to students or those interested in the history of the movement. I was hoping for more information on what to do now.