Friday, September 15, 2006

New Age Thunderstruck

Book Review

Title: The Great Turning, From Empire to Earth Community
Author: David C. Korten

A few days ago I picked up from the public library a book by David C. Korten.

I highly recommend Korten's book if you want to quaff down a heady draught of Dawning-of-the-Age-of-Aquarius political thinking, the kind that tends to grow up in the misty lands of the Puget Sound, which heavily gets discussed by blogliobibuli over steaming lattes at Starbucks. Now Korten bills himself, on the book cover, as "a co-founder and board chair of the Positive Futures Network" (which publishes YES! Magazine from Bainbridge Island, WA), the "founder and president of the People Centered Development Forum", "an associate of the International Forum on Globalization", and "a member of the Club of Rome".

Yes, those are impressive credentials. Club of Rome, no less! I am sure he gets to hobnob with the powerful and well-to-do … while nobodies like me get to live, in run-down single-wides in flyover country.

On the book's dedication page, Korten says:
Dedicated To … George W. Bush, whose administration exposed to full view the imperial shadow side of U.S. Democracy, stripped away the last of the illusions of my childhood innocence, and compelled me to write this book.
Beyond all doubt, Korten must have felt so violated as regards to his innocence. But at least he thanked Bush, because without him this magnificent book might never have been written. And considering that there's a whole chapter in the book that begins with the title "When God Was a Woman", it's easy to get a feel for the general direction the book will going: to wit, those aweful Bible clingers are the real cause for all the problems in world … you know, what with that awful patriarchal Hebrew God of theirs, and all that.

At the start of the book, there are four pages of "Praise for The Great Turning", which contains effusive encomia, written by 22 different people, extolling this book's greatness. For example, here's what Matthew Fox, the very spiritual theologian and educator, had to say:
Employing history, psychology, economics, spirituality, and common sense, Korten not only critiques the dilemma we are in as a species, he also shows us doable and workable ways out of our morass. He has created a tour de force — a call to compassion as much as a blueprint for survival. This book is a kind of Bible to the 21st Century, a revelation of where we might travel if we have the moral imagination and the courage to choose and act wisely.
Another person, Jan Roberts, said "THIS is the book we have been waiting for!" Still another, Bill Knuth, said "Brilliant. Challenging. Inspiring. Practical. Spiritual. Intelligent. Once again, David Korten challenges us with his keen analysis and elegant wisdom …" Even Congressman Dennis J. Kucinich weighs in with "David Korten has presented a clear blueprint for a powerful emerging majority."

As we can see, THIS is the book that momentarily left Bill Knuth so thunderstruck he was reduced to uttering one word sentences. And the rest of Korten's admirers are equally besides themselves with the marvelousness of his book.

But somehow I have the feeling I won't get treated too well by that "powerful emerging majority" Kucinich was alluding to.

Gosh, to have a command of so many diverse fields, to have such praise from so many of the world's cognoscenti, David C. Korten must be a prodigious polymath, and maybe even a Supreme Guru on his way to becoming an Ascended Master. Wow, if Matthew Fox thinks his book is the Bible for the 21st Century, I guess we can throw away our old ones; for David C. Korten must have come down from Mt. Sinai, amid the thick darkness and the lightnings and thunders, and the voice of a trumpet, with an entirely new revelation: Worship the Golden Calf.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Elkins Resort

Yesterday, we got back from a short vacation at Elkins Resort. It's a nice place, located on the western shore of Priest Lake at Reeder Bay, a little east of Nordman. We had nothing particularly fancy, just a plain one bedroom cabin. Off in the distance, we could see the ridge of the Selkirk Mountains, jutting up into the sky east of us.

Priest Lake drains at its south end through the Priest River, which connects with the Pend Oreille which flows northward to Canada. Unfortunately, there were some fires going, out beyond the northern tip of the lake, which had the effect of making the air very hazy, giving the Selkirk Mountains a rather abstract look.

The entire area around Priest Lake is "so Idaho", quite mountainous or hilly, heavily forested, but punctuated with a meadow or marsh here and there. Now if you are a lover of the hustle bustle of city life, do avoid the area because you'll find little that is interesting there, unless looking at every variety of conifer under the sun constitutes excitement for you. And if you like sightseeing and visiting lots of curious tourist traps, along with extravagant restaurants, well, the Priest Lake really doesn't have any of that.

In fact, the Priest Lake area is rather sparsely populated, even by Idaho standards. If soul-searing isolation is something you love, well, I recommend Priest Lake. There's only one road in and out, state highway 57. If you have a heart attack, count yourself dead because it's a long way to the nearest fully equipped hospital.

Elkins Resort was nothing terribly fancy. It had a marina, along with boat slips that looked a hundred years old, and some nice narrow beaches. You can rent boats, canoes, and bicycles. And it did have an excellent dining room, although a little on the expensive side. The "huckleberry whiskey barbeque chicken" was very tasty. But my recommendation is to bring most of your own food and drink. Many of the cabins are equipped with a stove, refrigerator, and microwave. But there are simply not that many nice restaurants in the area. Most of the boat marinas, here and there around the lake, however do have cafes, of varying quality. But remember it's Land-In-Between; expect things to be rough.

Addendum: A little east of the Selkirk Mountains is a specially protected area set aside as habitat for the mountain caribou. Consequently, it is off limits from many recreational uses. According to one of the locals, however, the mountain caribou no longer actually live there; and over the last ten years only two had ever been spotted. "Were they all dead?" I asked. "No, they just migrated up to Canada," was the explanation. Well, I guess they threatened to move to Canada if George Bush got elected, which explains it.