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Excerpt from 'Relational Reality' by Charlene Spretnak

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Of all the areas being revitalized by the Relational Shift, the education of our children may well be the most poignant. While the relational perspective is, as yet, more influential in the academic disciplines at universities than it is in elementary and secondary schools, this is a moment of tremendous potential for reshaping the educational experience of young children starting out on their journey from kindergarten to high school graduation – and beyond. For the first time in the modern era, they are increasingly likely to be taught not the misleading mechanistic worldview but, rather, a coherent presentation of the relational nature of reality, a study of the fundamental relationships of the physical world and the cultures of the human family.

An organic progression would begin for very young children with a focus on the internal relationships that allow their own bodies to work so well (that is, a version for 5- and 6-year olds of the recent discoveries in relational physiology that reveal how creative and smart our internal bodymind relationships are).

'Shocking\" state of seas threatens mass extinctions, experts say

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Fish, sharks, whales and other marine species are in imminent danger of an "unprecedented" and catastrophic extinction event at the hands of humankind, and are disappearing at a far faster rate than anyone had predicted, a study of the world's oceans has found.

Mass extinction of species will be "inevitable" if current trends continue, researchers said.

Overfishing, pollution, run-off of fertilizers from farming and the acidification of the seas caused by increasing carbon dioxide emissions are combining to put marine creatures in extreme danger, according to the report from the International Programme on the State of the Ocean (IPSO), prepared at the first international workshop to consider all of the cumulative stresses affecting the oceans at Oxford University.

Fiona Harvey writes on the Natural Resources Defense Council's OnEarth blog about this report.

Book review: Relational Reality

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RELATIONAL REALITY
NEW DISCOVERIES OF INTERRELATEDNESS
THAT ARE TRANSFORMING THE MODERN WORLD
By Charlene Spretnak
Published by Green Horizon Books, $14

Charlene Spretnak’s new book opens with this sentence: "Our hypermodern societies currently possess only a kindergarten-level understanding of the deeply relational nature of reality.”

In her previous book The Resurgence of the Real, cultural historian and ecofeminist Charlene Spretnak shows how the modern outlook handed down from the Enlightenment is now losing ground to an emergent worldview, one rooted in what she calls “the real” — the realities of nature, our bodies, and our physical surroundings.

Dry bones, prophets, and fluttering wings

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Wings, dry bones, and prophets. Exhilaration, hunger and exhaustion. All of them were with us at the American Catholic Council in Detroit last weekend.

Since Friday night we had celebrated the messages of our modern day progressive Catholic prophets – Fr. Hans Kung, Jeanette Rodriguez, Anthony Padavano, James Carroll, Sr. Chris Schenk, Matthew Fox, and Sr. Joan Chittister -- as they encouraged each of us to acknowledge our unique gifts as baptized priestly Christians and midwife the fruits of Vatican II.

Their presence reminded me of my favorite Sufi meditation. It is one where we picture ourselves riding on camels in a long caravan behind the ancestors – Moses, Ezekiel, Jesus, Dorothy Day, Oscar Romero – as well as other spiritual teachers who might have inspired each of us along the way. And now there they are these new guides directly in front of us in this caravan of Spirit: Fr. Kung, Jeanette, Anthony, James, Sr. Chris, Matt and Sr. Joan.

The Big Here: an education in place

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Bioregionalist Kevin Kelly writes about The Big Here.

"You live in the big here. Wherever you live, your tiny spot is deeply intertwined within a larger place, imbedded fractal-like into a whole system called a watershed, which is itself integrated with other watersheds into a tightly interdependent biome. At the ultimate level, your home is a cell in an organism called a planet. All these levels interconnect. What do you know about the dynamics of this larger system around you? Most of us are ignorant of this matrix. But it is the biggest interactive game there is. Hacking it is both fun and vital."

David Suzuki: Studies show small farms better for biodiversity and food security

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We largely assume the only way to feed the world's rapidly growing human population is with big-scale industrial agriculture. Also, there is much support for genetically altering food crops to produce large enough quantities on smaller areas to feed the world's people.

But, according to a piece by David Suzuki on The Huffington Post Green blog, recent scientific research challenges those assumptions. "Our global approaches to agriculture are critical. To begin, close to one billion people are malnourished and many more are finding it difficult to feed their families as food prices increase. But is large-scale industrial farming the answer?"

Suzuki is a respected Canadian author and environmental scientist who received the Right Livelihood Award in 2009.

Matthew Fox speaks at American Catholic Council gathering

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DETROIT, MICH. -- Addressing the first American Catholic Council, Fr. Matthew Fox encouraged the nearly 2,000 participants attending to “adapt a different way of being church. Travel lightly. Carry a backpack filled with the words of Jesus, the mystics and the prophets. Be faithful to Matthew 25’s vision of compassion and remain true to the collegiality of Vatican II” rather than to “an institution that Jesus never heard of,” he said.

The American Catholic Council was organized by progressive Catholics to implement Second Vatican Council reforms. Its agenda for the weekend – reclaiming the Spirit, vision, freedom and joy of the People of God – grew out of 100 Listening Assemblies involving 5,000 Catholics from across the United States.

Speaking on the eve of Pentecost, Fox highlighted a theology of Christian vocation as inspired by the Holy Spirit. “Every Christian’s vocation is to be a mystic and a prophet who falls in love with life and beauty, cherishes friendship, the Earth and those different from themselves.”

The first week of the Bonn climate conference

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At the end of the first week of the Bonn Conference on Climate Change, the first thing which comes to mind is how little coverage this vitally important negotiation session is receiving the world media. A favorable outcome from the Bonn Conference is essential if the UN Framework Conference on Climate Change (UNFCCC) which is to meet later in the year in Durban, South Africa, is to succeed.

Water fight: A new Catholic environmental issue emerges in Italy

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By John Thavis, Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- A referendum in Italy has spotlighted an emerging social justice issue for the Catholic church: access to safe water as a basic human right.

Italians were going to the polls June 12-13 to decide whether to revoke a decree that imposed the privatization of water resources. The issue has stirred an unusually intense debate, with church leaders arguing that water is the archetypal "gift from God" that should not be polluted by the profit motive.

On June 9, a group of more than 100 missionary priests and nuns fasted and prayed in St. Peter's Square to underline their support for the referendum and their opposition to the privatization of water. Beneath Pope Benedict XVI's windows, they unfurled a giant banner reading: "Lord, help us save the water!"

The next day, the Vatican's Cardinal Peter Turkson weighed in. Cardinal Turkson, head of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, said water distribution should be a service provided by governments to their citizens as part of their role in protecting the common good.

Some Earth-friendly recipes

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There are many conscious ways to keep from harming Mother Earth. Our food choices rank high on the list.

Cooking with nutritional yeast is a tasty way to move away from a meat-heavy diet. This wondrous ingredient is an inactive form of yeast. Available in bulk at organic groceries, nutritional yeast is yellow in color with a nutty, cheesy flavor. It works as a coating for tofu, for making gravy, for flavoring veggie stir frys, and even for sprinkling on popcorn. I discovered nutritional yeast about 15 years ago through a vegetarian housemate.

One night, Mary created a delicious supper consisting of buckwheat groats, gravy, steamed summer squash and salad.

Shirley Rhodes Patterson, a longtime friend now living in Fox, Arkansas, clued me in to using nutritional yeast as a breading for tofu. Shirley has been cooking vegetarian for many years, since her marriage.

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