Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Review: Blinded by Progress by Lee Van Ham

Blinded by Progress is a work of keen observation, a great deal of scholarship and an abiding care for living beings. There were many paths that we might have taken in the past that would have led to a better world than the one we inhabit. Lee Van Ham’s writing delineates a path going forward that does not repeat the illusions of progress. I hope it opens many eyes. — Paul Hawken, entrepreneur, environmentalist, and author of Blessed Unrest and Natural Capitalism 

Lee has written a book that is a hair-on-fire call to action to free ourselves from our folly of only looking at Me and moving us to We... Pronto. — Will Marré, Founder, The American Dream Project 

Turning the pages of Lee Van Ham’s new narrative nonfiction book, Blinded by Progress, releases that “ah-hah” feeling we have when truth breaks out of illusion. 

Blinded by Progress shows why MultiEarth living—living as if we have more than one Earth—grips us so tightly despite the inevitable apocalyptic consequences of living beyond our planet’s capacities. It addresses the seemingly simple, yet elusive question, “Why do we continue to pursue economic growth as if it is economic health when continued growth is ecologically impossible?” Are proponents of continued growth sinister or unconscious? Do we prefer blind faith to the obvious eyes-open truth?  

The author discloses how he unwittingly came under the spell of MultiEarth living and then, as his consciousness shifted, how he began reshaping his life to OneEarth living—a project in process. Readers will follow along with the personal quest of the author, and come to new, life-giving decisions about their own MultiEarth vs. OneEarth choices. 

Blinded by Progress makes special contributions to the global conversation now underway about sustainable living. The author clearly delineates the contrasts between MultiEarth and OneEarth worldviews. The chapter on the religious devotion given to MultiEarth economics and practices contains perspectives and content often left out of conversations on the themes treated in this book. The power that myth has to keep us practicing the illusionary MultiEarth worldview is revealed using John Steinbeck’s magnum opus, East of Eden. That novel’s use of the Cain and Abel myth provides bold guidance for our own MultiEarth-OneEarth choices. The concluding distinction between MultiEarth and OneEarth progress shows us how we got into our illusionary bubble and leaves no doubt that we have the power to choose differently. The personal journey of the author weaves in and out of the chapters, serving to illustrate the book’s themes, the subtleties by which MultiEarth progress blinds us, and the power to choose OneEarth’s satisfying ways. 

Lee Van Ham has been working on ecological economics since 2000. This work follows three decades of experience in leading congregations where his writing and teaching gifts developed. In 2009, he met Michael Johnson; the two came together around their common interest in ecology and economics. Out of their relationship the OneEarth Project was born to partner their interests in writing and filmmaking. Johnson is an Emmy-award winning filmmaker who has begun work on a documentary related to themes in Blinded by Progress.

Received for review.

I normally enjoy reading about how we can make changes in our own lives to help the environment and the world as a whole so I was intrigued by this book.  Sadly, it fell short of expectations.  

This is not really about empowering yourself to make small changes, but instead ripping down the entire business and economic system of the world to create some sort of utopia.  While does have some interesting ideas the majority are unreasonable.

The author also unfortunately chose to compare the current economic system to a religion and the religious language he uses to illustrate his arguments seriously detracts from their potential impact.  It just sounds like one giant religious rant which does not make for enjoyable or educational reading.

Overall, if you're seriously into crunchy granola politics then this is for you, otherwise, give it a pass.

★★☆☆☆ = Just Okay

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