The Ecology of Eden: An Inquiry into the Dream of Paradise and a New Vision of Our Role in Nature, by Evan Eisenberg (Vintage Books). This is an elegantly written exploration into deep ecological anthropology and philosophy. In the section titled "The Mountain and The Tower," Eisenberg offers a brilliant synthesis of the "mythography" of ancient Mesopotamian societies as they tried to explain their alienation from nature and, almost parenthetically, a provocative reading of Genesis 1-11-which happens to be my favorite theological topic at the moment!
Limited Wants, Unlimited Means: A Reader on Hunter-Gatherer Economics and the Environment, edited by John Gowdy (Island Press). I know; it sounds dry. But this anthology is perhaps the best introduction to pre-modern economic anthropology and the lifeways of how most of humanity lived prior to the rise of agriculture and cities. I am fascinated by the "revisionist" anthropology of those, such as Marshall Sahlins, who argue that "non-civilized" peoples represented the "original affluent societies"-something that may have profound implications for the biblical critique of civilization. Stay tuned-I'm trying to integrate this body of theory with my interest in "Sabbath economics."
Check out this children's book (that I bought for my nephew's baptism but really don't want to give up): Tim Ladwig's illustrated The Lord's Prayer (Eerdman's Books for Young Readers). Set in a contemporary African-American urban neighborhood, the watercolor/ pastel/acrylic paintings are gorgeous, and the theology is recontextualizing at its best! Sometimes I wonder why we ever "graduate" beyond this level of discourse.
Cradle Will Rock, a Tim Robbins movie, tells the story of popular theater in the tumultuous '30s during the WPA (Works Progress Administration) era, at a time when capitalism was in crisis and knew it (as opposed to today, when it is in crisis and in denial). The closing scene is brilliant. Rent it at your local video store, and get set to learn some history and culture.
Jazz vocalist Ange Smith is a local treasure in Detroit, not to mention a sometimes- collaborator with the likes of Sojourners colleagues Jim Perkinson and Bill Wylie-Kellermann. Everywhere I go I tell folks about Ange's classic collection of spirituals, Let My People Go (accompanied by Don Mayberry on bass; Alembic Arts). Ange is a deeply spiritual woman who knows the politics of white appropriation of black music; this one she made herself, and her voice will warm you like good late-night port. I'd also commend her most recent release, Ride a Purple Horse, with the Charles Boles Quartet (Angel A Recording). You can contact Ange and order both CDs at Ange@vivache.com. n
Ched Myers works with Bartimaeus Cooperative Ministries in Los Angeles (www.bcm-net.org).