A one-page mini-manifesto by Dennis Rivers
and uncounted zillions of ecological kindred spirits  – 2018 revision

Painting from www.MeganneForbes.com.
Used with permission.

Most people accept that life, to at least some degree, depends on love, because we recognize that babies need food, shelter and affection, which they cannot arrange for themselves in the absence of loving parents and kin. But the idea that we have a need to care for the entire web of life and people, well known to many native peoples, is only beginning to be explored in Western countries.

The emergence of industrial society and its long-lived toxic by-products, from pesticides to leaking nuclear waste tanks, has fundamentally changed our relationship to the natural world, the ground on which we stand. For eons, wrecking the planet has been beyond human reach. But our impact on the Web of Life is now so large that I am drawn to the conclusion that complex life will only continue on Planet Earth if we care for all people as our beloved kin, and all creatures as if they were our beloved children.
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By John Aaron, Sculptor and Director of Chalk4Peace

Early this summer [2016], I was commissioned to create this tribute to the Emanuel Nine of the Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, SC. It is a memorial to the people who lost their lives when a self professed white supremacist gunned them down during their Bible Study at the Church on the evening of June 17,  2015. This sculpture took more than 500 hours.

A memorial sculpture for those who died at Emanuel AME Church, Charleston


Emanuel AME Church is a glazed porcelain relief sculpture 5’4” x 3’8” x 6” whose details include the embossed names of the Fallen, The Emanuel Nine. Renditions of the floral tributes and messages and pictorial accuracy of this historic building. This one-of-a-kind portrait of the most significant church in the heart of the civil rights movement in America, it is ready to join the Charleston community, where it belongs. A custom crate was created to protect it as it crosses the country. It has been meticulously packed.

I believe this piece belongs at the Emanuel AME Church in Charleston to serve as a touchstone for hope and healing- a monument to peace and love and the greater good. Those so affected by the losses, family and friends are who this memorial was truly created for.  It is one of the ways to insure they will never be forgotten. Getting this art to the Church is my priority. But now the project needs help. A ceremony- the lighting of nine candles and the reading of each name of the Fallen as each candle is lit manifested itself as a result of the first installation of the sculpture. It is my hope that this gesture becomes a tradition to assist in keeping the memory of these fine people alive.

The Emanuel Nine

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James Hal Cone in dialogue with Bill Moyers

(View on YouTube.com.)


The Ecological Ethics and Systemic Thought of Pope Francis

(from https://www.fritjofcapra.net/laudato-si-the-ecological-ethics-and-systemic-thought-of-pope-francis/)

Pope Francis

The title of the Pope’s new encyclical, Laudato Si’ (“Praise Be to You”), dated May 24, 2015, and published in eight languages on June 18, is an Umbrian phrase from the famous religious song “Canticle of the Sun” by Saint Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of ecology. The encyclical’s subtitle, “On Care for our Common Home,” refers to the Earth as oikos (“home”), the Greek root of the word “ecology,” while caring is a practice characteristic of the liberation theology of Latin America.

The text of the Papal encyclical, one year in the making and written with the help of a large team of theologians, philosophers, and scientists, reveals not only the great moral authority of Pope Francis, but also his complete familiarity with many concepts and ideas in contemporary science.

During the last thirty years, a new conception of life has emerged at the forefront of science — a unifying view that integrates life’s biological, cognitive, social, and ecological dimensions. At the very core of this new understanding of life we find a profound change of metaphors: from seeing the world as a machine to understanding it as a network. This new science of life is now being developed by outstanding researchers and their teams around the world. Their concepts and ideas are integrated into a grand synthesis in The Systems View of Life, a textbook I coauthored with Pier Luigi Luisi and which was published in 2014 by Cambridge University Press.

Fritjof Capra
Scientist and Author

We call the new conception of life a “systems view” because it involves a new kind of thinking — thinking in terms of connectedness, relationships, patterns, and context. In science, this way of thinking is known as “systems thinking,” or “systemic thinking,” because it is crucial to understanding living systems of any kind — living organisms, social systems, or ecosystems.

The systems view of life will be the conceptual basis of my analysis of the Pope’s encyclical in this essay. I will show that the radical ethics championed by Pope Francis, expressed sometimes, but not always, in theological language, is essentially the ethics of deep ecology, the philosophical school founded by Arne Naess in the 1970s. I will also show with many examples that Pope Francis reveals himself in Laudato Si’ as a truly systemic thinker.

read more…


Alberta Tar Sands — Photo from EricWalberg.com
Dennis Rivers, November 2016
This week I’ve been thinking about the struggles going on to protect water supplies on the Standing Rock Reservation, and about the Alberta tar sands projects only a few hundred miles to the north.  For native peoples around the world, the Earth Herself is sacred, and Her waters as well.  So poisoning the Earth, or building industrial projects that create an ongoing unknown risk of poisoning the land and water, are not just material or political issues.  They are spiritual and religious issues as well.  This is not a theoretical risk at all.  Large amounts of  Dine (Navajo) land and water have been permanently poisoned with radioactive waste from uranium mining, causing a giant spike in cancer rates.  And the Alberta Tar Sands photos speak for themselves.  So native peoples have little reason to trust the assurances that they, their land, and their water, are not in danger from the white man’s projects.
Reflecting on the corporations willing to endanger someone else’s water supply in order to get rich building oil pipelines, I think it is time that we gave a proper name to the psychological illness that has been haunting us for several centuries: PIDM: profit-induced-destructive-mania. I intend to rally my friends within the counseling profession to have PDIM added to the DSM-5 as a recognized mental illness.
There are many strands of PDIM at work in U.S. culture. The long term effects of tobacco and greasy hamburgers kill hundreds of thousands of people a year, yet most of us prefer to look away from the spectacle of corporations enriching themselves by selling slow death behind smiling advertisements. We accept this as fairly normal, without really working through the implication that some forms of mental illness may be fairly common. The late psychoanalyst Arno Gruen explored this at length in his book, The Insanity of Normality (which I helped to republish after it was withdrawn from publication by its bought-out publisher).
People suffering from PDIM, a syndrome I see as a spiralling disorientation of both thinking and feeling, experience a chronic narrowing of the attention until they no longer recognize the people, animals, plants, oceans, forests and waters essential to their own survival here on Planet Earth, and begin a autism-like repetitive pattern of screaming, “Drill, Baby, Drill!”. PDIM is the economic parallel to Lord Acton’s observation that “power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely”, namely, that profits tend to disorient, and enormous profits disorient enormously. The contemplation of giant wins appears to disable people’s normal survival instincts. The same processes of disoriented thought appear to be associated with nuclear power as well, where the hope of generating mind-boggling amounts of cheap electricity causes otherwise sensible people to abandon their critical faculties, leading to catastrophes such as Chernobyl and Fukushima.
Just as anorexics cannot bear to face that fact that they are killing themselves, PIDM sufferers cannot bear to face the fact that they are killing their own planet, and the life-support system for their own children and grandchildren. Because of this self-injury component, some elements of self-hatred and suicidal ideation cannot be ruled out.
PIDM is like a Zika virus of the heart (it causes people’s hearts to get smaller). We need new clinical intervention strategies to reconnect EVERYONE on the planet with their own life energies (approaches such as Joanna Macy’s “Work That Reconnects”) and slow the lethal spread PIDM and poisoned aquifers.
For more about the Standing Rock protests, please visit:



Edvard Munch — The Scream

By Dennis Rivers — June 24, 2016

I find myself praying for Divine intercession a lot these days.  Even though I am not much of a believer in direct divine intervention any more.   As I read story after story about toddlers accidentally killing their mothers with loaded guns left carelessly available, I am reminded once again that God will not save us from the tragic consequences of our own carelessness.  And I have similar thoughts about the new military tensions rising between the United States and Russia.  Did the USA really have to park missiles right on the edge of Russia?  Would we accept Russia putting missiles on the Canadian border, pointing toward us? What a headache and a heartache of carelessness. Which leads me to some thoughts about the direction in which the United States appears to be drifting. 

I am convinced that since the start of World War 2, the United States has become profoundly addicted to war.

>> addicted economically (war industries, weapons research and arms sales are woven through the US economy — an unacknowledged sort of military socialism —  for example the $1.5 TRILLION program to build the F-35 high-tech fighter plane, and the more that $6  to $7 trillion spent so far on nuclear weapons and the systems, such as nuclear submarines, to carry and deliver them).

>> addicted culturally (having an enemy is a seductively easy way to know who we are and what we need to do, and the more flamboyant the enemy, the easier it is to blot out of our awareness the knowledge that we have not lived up to our own professed values of liberty and justice for all),

>> and addicted psychologically — aided and abetted by war movies and violent video games (focusing on our outrageously evil enemies allows us to avoid facing our own many mistakes and shortcomings, and to adopt the “It’s all their fault, they started it” attitude.)  This propensity to blame others, avoid responsibility for one’s own actions, and seek empowerment through violent fantasies and bullying, can become so pronounced that they function together like a mental illness, blinding a people to the ways in which they may be hurting others and radically diminishing their own lives. 

How we will extricate ourselves from such a deep addiction is one of the great creative challenges of our time, along with fighting global warming and moving toward global social justice.
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January 5, 2016

Leonardo Boff  (from the Tikkun.org web site)

There is an indisputable and sad fact: capitalism as a mode of production and its political ideology, neoliberalism, are so thoroughly established globally that it seems to make any real alternative impossible. It has in fact occupied every space and aligned almost every country to its global interests. Since society has been commercialized and turned everything, even the most sacred things, such as human organs, water and the capacity of flowers to be pollinated, into an opportunity to gain wealth, most countries feel obliged to participate in the globally integrated macro-economy and much less inclined to serve the common good of their people.

Democratic socialism in its advanced version of eco-socialism is an important theoretical option, but has a small worldwide social base of implementation. The thesis of Rosa Luxemburg in her book, Reform or Revolution (Reforma o Revolución), that «the theory of the collapse of capitalism is at the heart of scientific socialism» has not become reality. And socialism has collapsed.

The fury of capitalist accumulation has reached the highest levels of its history. Practically 1% of the wealthy population of the world controls nearly the 90% of its wealth. According to the reputable NGO Oxfam Intermon, in 2014, 85 members of the super-rich had the same amount of money as 3.5 billion of the poorest in the world. This level of irrationality and inhumanity speaks for itself. We are living explicitly barbaric times.

Read more on the Tikkun web site


Spiritual-Activism-front-cover-300pxw Over the past half century the issues facing activists have changed, as has our understanding and awareness of spirituality. For activists, spiritual philosophy is rising up the agenda because it offers distinct, tried and tested approaches to deep questions: Where did it all go wrong? What does it mean to be human? What is the place of leadership? What is the nature of power?

The book begins by defining spirituality for a modern audience of all faiths and beliefs, and goes on to consider the problems and necessities of true leadership. Drawing on a rich history of spirituality and activism, from The Bhagavad Gita, to the Hebrew prophets, to Carl Jung, it is both guide and inspiration for people involved in activism for social or environmental justice.

Click here to read sample chapter.

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by Jon Queally, staff writer, Common Dreams
Published on Friday, July 10, 2015 by Common Dreams.   Reprinted here under a Creative Commons license.
In a far-reaching speech in Bolivia on Thursday, Pope Francis offered his apologies to, and begged forgiveness from, the native people of the Americas as he acknowledged the brutal treatment they received throughout the so-called “conquest of America.”

In a speech that also touched on the need to rapidly move away from the destructive model of unbridled capitalism—which he described as the “dung of the devil”—Francis went much further than any of his predecessors in accounting for the crimes of the Church while it pursued and perpetuated colonialism and oppression across Latin America and beyond over the last five centuries.
“This system is by now intolerable: farm workers find it intolerable, laborers find it intolerable, communities find it intolerable, peoples find it intolerable. The earth itself – our sister, Mother Earth, as Saint Francis would say – also finds it intolerable.” — Pope Francis

“I wish to be quite clear,” said Francis. “I humbly ask forgiveness, not only for the offenses of the church herself, but also for crimes committed against the native peoples during the so-called conquest of America.” He added, “There was sin and an abundant amount of it.”
In response, it was reported, the large crowd offered rousing applause. Continue reading


Download the PDF of the Encyclical:  English :: Español :: Française :: Deutsche ::  italiano :: Português :: Arabic :: Polski 10 key excerpts from Pope Francis’s encyclical on the environment (Washington Post 6/18/2015) History is Made as Pope Francis’ Encyclical is Presented in the Vatican (America 6/18/2015)

From New York Review of Books

The Pope and the Planet (Review of Encyclical by Bill McKibben)

From National Catholic Reporter

Eco-Catholic: ‘We see this as an essential part of the solution, if we look for the common good.”

Peace: an unexpected reaction to ‘Laudato Si’

Peaceful. That is the only word that fully describes how I feel after reading “Laudato Si’, on Care for Our Common Home,” the encyclical on the environment release by Pope Francis this morning.For the past six years, I have worked within the Catholic church to address the pressing issue of human-forced climate change. During that time, I have experienced some hopeful glimpses of how the church might animate effective responses to this challenge.

Laudato Si’ arrives

Distinctly Catholic: On one of the most important issues of the day, our Holy Father has blessed the Church with a document that is accessible to virtually anyone.