“Wright goes on to describe a number of diverse civilizations that arose and collapsed between 4,000 and 1,000 BC – and their unfortunate tendency towards mindless habitat destruction and runaway population growth, consumption, and technological development. In each case, an identical social transformation takes place as resources become increasingly scarce. As prehistoric peoples find it harder and harder to feed themselves, inevitably a privileged elite emerges to confiscate communal lands and enslave their inhabitants. They then install a despotic tyrant who hastens ecological collapse by wasting scare resources on a spree of militarization and temple or pyramid building. This process is almost always accompanied by wholesale murder, torture, and unproductive wars.  …It’s a pattern so common in prehistory that it’s become enshrined in the Adam and Eve and similar creation myths.” – S.J. Bramhall reviewing Ronald Wright’s A Short History of Progress (http://www.resilience.org/stories/2013-08-26/collapse-revisiting-the-adam-and-eve-myth)

“The techno-industrial adventure was about the exhilaration of overcoming natural limits — and the grandiosity in thinking that we could de-link permanently and put something synthetic and supposedly just-as-good in nature’s place. In the process, we de-natured ourselves and unplugged from the satisfactions found in being part of something wondrous and whole and larger than ourselves. We don’t have to reinvent the sacred. It has been there all along. We just ignored and disregarded it for about a century, and now we have to rebuild the social and logistical infrastructure for it.” – James Kunstler (http://www.peakprosperity.com/blog/82831/returning-real)

“You mustn’t wish for another life. You mustn’t want to be somebody else. What you must do is this: ‘Rejoice evermore. Pray without ceasing. In everything give thanks.’ 
I am not all the way capable of so much, but those are the right instructions.” – Wendell Berry, in Hannah Coulter

 

A NOTE FROM THE TRANSCRIBER:  I found this document in the trash.  Well, under the trash actually.  It was scrawled in nearly-illegible handwriting on a large decomposing cardboard box wedged under a dumpster in the Bronx.  It was about one rain away from being completely illegible.  There were a slew of smallish organisms living under the box, and they looked quite unhappy when I took their shelter away — their universe, really.  Squirming, slithering, running, clicking, squeaking…it was an apocalypse to them.  Sorry guys.  So it is to them that I dedicate this transcription.  …You’ll notice, of course, that the document is signed by ‘God’.  Which is weird.  And which I don’t quite believe.  …But who knows?

TRASHING THE JOINT

Hey guys.  We need to talk.  Well, I’m going to talk.  You’re going to listen.  And then it’s up to you after that.  But right now I just want you to listen.

Do you know why I’m here?  …Because I try not to do this type of thing.  But it’s reached the point where I need to.  

Ok.  Look around you.  Look at the land, your community, your family, yourself.  All of it.  I suppose it looks sort of normal to you because it’s all you’ve known.  But it’s not normal.  It’s messed up.  Real messed up.  Messed up to the point of me almost having to hit the big red cosmic "RESET" button on your planet.  [Illegible]  I don’t want to have to do that.  Which is why I’m writing this.

Let me put this bluntly:  You’re screwing up.  You’ve been screwing up.  [Illegible]  For thousands of years you’ve been screwing up.  And even now, after so many cycles of the same damn destructiveness, you barely have a clue.

Sigh.  If this was a report card, I’d write, "Does not play well with others.  Dangerously-inflated self-image.  Insensitive to pain and suffering of other beings.  Fails to take responsibility for or learn from mistakes.   Passably clever, but severely lacking in wisdom.  Careless with tools.  Needs closer supervision."      

RELATIONSHIP THERAPY

I won’t go into all the gory details of how bad you’ve messed things up.  If you don’t know already, I suspect you won’t even finish reading this.  [Illegible]  But if you’re interested, check out the work of Derrick Jensen and Daniel Quinn.  (That’s right, book recommendations from God!  Hey, I’m no Oprah but that’s gotta juice sales a little bit, no?)

In any case, what you’ve wrecked so far is immaterial to what I want to accomplish here, which is this:  I want to help you change the way you think.  In particular, I want to change and enlarge your conception of what a relationship is.  And I want to do this for three reasons: (1) so you stop wrecking everything else I love, (2) so you can save yourselves, who I also love, and (3) so I can…[illegible].

And why relationships?  Because everything else – all your disasters and triumphs as a species — flows directly from the quality of your relationships.  That’s where everything got messed up and that’s how everything can be fixed: relationships.  Relationships with yourself, your family, your human community, the land.  A big messy web of relationships.  Well…it should be a big messy web.  These days, it’s more like a few grotesquely-enlarged superhighways to nowhere, with a frayed and withered tangle of broken connections.  It’s ugly.  Dangerously ugly and distorted – especially since your continued existence depends on the health of these relationships.  [Illegible]  …Hence your dire predicament.  …Hence my intervention.  

But your relationships don’t need to be ugly.  They can be repaired.  And that’s what I’m trying to help you do.  I should also point out that this is your last chance.  [Illegible]…and brimstone.  I suppose you could say this little message is an ultimatum. 

…Boo! 

So I going to lay some things out here — some of the different ways you need to start thinking about relationships.  I chopped it up into four parts, because I know your brains like that sort of thing.  (See — I’m always thinking of you.)  Each part is nested in the next — i.e. self is nested in family is nested in community is nested in the land.  Like a Russian doll!  And they’re pretty simple and redundant, at least on the surface, which I know you also like.  But you need to get all four parts right for this to work.  And making them all work will require some pretty big changes. 

So here they are…followed by some accompanying questions to help you focus.     

THE THREE COMMANDMENTS OF THE LAND

I. Know the land.

  • What entities, living and non-living, claim membership in the land where your community lives?
  • How do these entities interact with each other?
  • Is the land healthy?  How do you know?
  • In what ways has the land changed over time, and how is it changing now?
  • Is the health of the land increasing or decreasing?
  • What forces tend to either harm or increase the health of the land?
  • What entities and relationships within the land are most vulnerable to harm or responsive to healing?

II. Respect the limits of the land.  

  • What rules and limits must your community observe to maintain health of the land?
  • What behaviors must your community maintain, increase, or decrease in order to respect these rules and limits?
  • How can your community increase the chances of these rules and limits being respected long into the future?

III. Love the land.

  • What feelings of thankfulness can you express towards the land?
  • Can you forgive the land for the troubles and injuries it sometimes causes your community? 
  • What can you do to promote healing and maintain the health of the land?
  • How much security are you willing to risk for yourself, your family, and your community to safeguard the health of the land?
  • Would you die to save the land?

THE THREE COMMANDMENTS OF HUMAN COMMUNITY

IV. Know your human community.  

  • What families and individuals claim membership in your human community?
  • How do these individuals and groups interact with each other?
  • Is your human community healthy?  How do you know?
  • In what ways has your human community changed over time, and how is it changing now?
  • Is the health of your human community increasing or decreasing?
  • What forces tend to either harm or increase the health of your human community?
  • What entities and relationships within your human community are most vulnerable to harm or responsive to healing? 

V. Respect the limits of your human community.  

  • What rules and limits must you and your family observe to maintain the health of your human community?
  • What behaviors must you and your family maintain, increase, or decrease in order to respect these rules and limits?
  • How can you and your family increase the chances of these rules and limits being respected long into the future?

VI. Love your human community

  • What feelings of thankfulness can you express towards your human community?
  • Can you forgive your human community for the troubles and injuries it sometimes causes you and your family? 
  • What can you do to promote healing and maintain the health of your human community?
  • How much security are you willing to risk for yourself and your family to safeguard the health of your human community?
  • Would you die to save your human community?

THE THREE COMMANDMENTS OF FAMILY

VII. Know your family.  

  • What individuals claim membership in your family?
  • How do these individuals interact with each other?
  • Is your family  healthy?  How do you know?
  • In what ways has your family changed over time, and how is it changing now?
  • Is the health of your family increasing or decreasing?
  • What forces tend to either harm or increase the health of your family?
  • What individuals and relationships within your family are most vulnerable to harm or responsive to healing?

VIII. Respect the limits of your family.  

  • What rules and limits must you observe to maintain the health of your family?
  • What behaviors must you maintain, increase, or decrease in order to respect these rules and limits?
  • How can you increase the chances of these rules and limits being respected long into the future?

IX. Love your family.  

  • What feelings of thankfulness can you express towards your family?
  • Can you forgive your family for the troubles and injuries they sometimes cause you? 
  • What can you do to promote healing and maintain the health of your family?
  • How much security are you willing to risk for yourself to safeguard the health of your family?
  • Would you die to save your family?

THE THREE COMMANDMENTS OF SELF

X.  Know yourself.  

  • Who are you? — What mental and physical abilities and characteristics do you possess?
  • What past events and circumstances have shaped you, and how?  
  • What do you love, and what do you love to do?
  • What are you feeling right now?
  • Are your mind and body healthy?  How do you know?
  • In what ways have your mind and body changed over time, and how are they changing now?
  • Is the health of your mind and body increasing or decreasing?
  • What forces tend to either harm or increase the health of your mind and body?
  • What parts of your mind and body are most vulnerable to harm or responsive to healing?

XI. Respect your limits.  

  • What rules and limits must you observe to maintain the health of your mind and body?
  • What behaviors must you maintain, increase, or decrease in order to respect these rules and limits?
  • How can you increase the chances of these rules and limits being respected long into the future?

XII. Love yourself.

  • What feelings of thankfulness can you express towards your body and mind?
  • Can you forgive your body and mind for the troubles they sometimes cause? 
  • What can you do to promote healing and maintain the health of your body and mind?

PRAY WITHOUT CEASING

Now, some of you might have noticed that none of these commandments seem to have anything directly about your relationship with me. 

…Well, actually they do – but before I go into that, I have to tell you something.  And it’s a little embarrassing because I should’ve done it much sooner.  But this crazy behavior of yours snuck up on me so fast.  …I mean, I half-turn my head for eight or ten thousand years, and it’s like ‘boom!’ — everything’s a mess.

So…you know how you do a lot of praying to me – telling me how great I am and how much you love me and so forth?  Well, as cute as those prayers are, I actually find them more than a bit disturbing.

Let me explain with an analogy:  You know how you feel when you watch your little kid sit down and earnestly write a letter to Santa Claus?  It’s cute, right?  Super cute and adorable.  …But then imagine the kid gets up, mid-letter, and viciously stabs the pet bunny through the eye with the pen.  That’s not cute, right?  It horrifying.  …And then imagine the kid gets right back up and finishes the letter, ending it with sincere “I love you, Santa! XOXOX.”  That would be beyond disturbing, right?

Well, welcome to my world.  …And in case you didn’t get it:  I’m Santa.  You’re the kid.  The land is the bunny.  …And I’m also the bunny.  …Get it?  It’s a pretty jarring disconnect for me to process here.

You see, I don’t need you to tell me how great I am.  I’m ok with myself.  Really.  What I need is for you to stop wrecking everything.  I need you to play nice with my other children.  Which is the same as playing nice with me.  You establishing healthy relationships with the land, your community, your family, and yourself is the same as you nurturing a relationship with me.  It’s all part of the same thing.  Understand?

And look, I don’t want you to stop praying.  I like prayer.  As I said, it’s cute.  I think it’s adorable.  And it can help you focus.  You’ve just been saying the wrong prayers…and then ignoring them anyway.  That’s why everything’s gone to shit.  

What I need is for you to say the right prayers.  And then live them.  That’s all.  

And you’ll know they’re the right prayers when it doesn’t feel like praying is a separate thing from living.  …When you don’t feel those disconnects anymore —  disconnects between what you pray and what you do; between the land, your community, your family, and yourself.  And when you start to notice that the act of living doesn’t steadily diminish everything around you anymore. 

…Understand?  You need to understand this.  Soon.

And so what exactly are these ‘right’ prayers I need you to say?  Well…you see the questions that I put under the commandments above?  Try to answer those questions.  Try really hard.  Think about them as hard as you’ve ever though about anything.  And think with your hearts as well as your minds.  Maybe more with your hearts than with your minds.  Try to feel the answers.  …And then make your prayers from your answers to those questions.  

…And then pray.  

As you say, ‘pray without ceasing.’

And live your prayers.  

So that you, and all my children, may live.

…What do you say? 

Good luck. 

Love, God

P.S.  Oh yea!  One more totally key thing I forgot:  You must…[illegible]…at all costs.  Do NOT forget that!