Religion prof explains the backstory to The Overstory and its “dark green religion”

During an interview in the Los Angeles Review of Books, Richard Powers indicated that in The Overstory, his Pulitzer Prize-winning arboreal novel, there is a lot of what University of Florida religion professor Bron Taylor called “Dark Green Religion” in his own book on contemporary nature spirituality.

“Dark Green Religion,” according to Professor Taylor is, “a religion, or a ‘religion-resembling’ set of beliefs and practices, characterized by a central conviction that ‘nature is sacred, has intrinsic value, and is therefore due reverent care.'”

Professor Taylor subsequently provided the backstory to The Overstory in his essay, “Animism, Tree-Consciousness, and the Religion of Life” in an article for the Center for Humans and Nature.

Here’s an excerpt: 

This is the central contention in The Overstory: that entities in nature, and life itself, have agency, purpose, and personhood—and we have ethical obligations to all such persons. In Westerford, there is an entirely scientific and naturalistic path to this perception. For other characters, the path is more intuitive, sensual, and mystical. This latter approach is exemplified at the very end of the book, which depicts a collaboration between an activist who risks his freedom to protect a forest he considers sacred and a Native American and his son, who in their own ways feel similarly. Together, they labor on an artistic project in the forest, the premise of which is: if we will STILL ourselves, we can learn to listen to life’s multi-vocal chorus and thus discern what life wants from us. There is a spiritual epistemology here, whether the ways of knowing are scientific, mystical, or both.

Read the full article HERE