Presented here for the first time and for meditation and emulation are the words and work of many environmental apostles. The words and work of each apostle are designed to delight and inspire the reader to begin or continue to lead a life of environmental action for conservation and contemplation of nature for spiritual succour in the age of climate change. All the usual suspects are here, such as St. Francis, Rachel Carson, Aldo Leopold, John Muir, Henry David Thoreau, and Judith Wright, but New Lives of the Saints emphasizes some aspects of their words and work often ignored or overlooked, such as Thoreau on swamps and Leopold on marshes. Also included are some unusual and unexpected environmental apostles, such as Walter Benjamin, Raymond Williams, Seamus Heaney, and Paul Virilio, all of whom contributed to green thinking as this book shows. Other environmentally apostolic writers, such as Walt Whitman, Sidney Lanier, Lord Dunsany, H. P. Lovecraft, Felix Guattari and Kelly Barnhill, are also discussed.
Beginning with two environmentally and animal-friendly retellings of the legends of St. George and St. Margaret involving dragons, the book goes on to devote a chapter each to ten other environmental apostles as patron saints of a special type of environment or of an approach to environmental conservation and contemplation. These saints sing the song of the earth, including its swamps, marshes, bogs, fens, national parks, mountains, forests, oceans, seas, airs, rivers, reefs, trees, cities, peoples, places, plants, animals, and so on. They provide nurture for living a life of hope and symbiotic livelihood living sacrally with the earth. New Lives of the Saints crosses the great divide between fiction and non-fiction and mixes the genres of story and essay. It is a ground-breaking work of environmental counter-theology for the symbiocene, the hoped-for age superseding the Anthropocene.
I. New Lives of Old Saints
1. St George, the Patron Saint of England, and the Swamp Dragon
2. St Margaret, the Patron Saint of Motherhood, and the Fen Dragon
3. St Francis of Assisi: The Patron Saint of the Earth
II. Old Lives of New Saints
4. Henry David Thoreau: The Patron Saint of Swamps
5. John Muir: The Patron Saint of National Parks
6. Walter Benjamin: The Patron Saint of Cultural Studies
7. Aldo Leopold: The Patron Saint of Marshes
8. Rachel Carson: The Patron Saint of American Conservation
9. Judith Wright: The Patron Saint of Australian Conservation
10. Raymond Williams: The Patron Saint of Ecocultural Studies
11. Seamus Heaney: The Patron Saint of Bogs
12. Paul Virilio: The Patron Saint of Grey Ecology
About the Author
Rod Giblett is the author of many books of fiction and non-fiction, including most recently Environmental Humanities and Theologies: Ecoculture, Literature and the Bible. He is honorary associate professor of environmental humanities in the Writing and Literature Program of the School of Communication and Creative Arts, Deakin University.