US 83 in central Mellette County, South Dakota

Northbound on US 83, central Mellette County, SD

My wife and I have flown many times from Denver to visit family and friends in Michigan, Indiana, and Ohio (Denver–O’Hare–Ironwood–Detroit hops). We’ve completed many crazy two-day Colorado-back-to-the-midwest marathons by car along Interstate 80. The last couple of years, though, there has been an interesting change in our sensibility about travel. Last summer we meandered up through Wyoming, South Dakota, North Dakota, Saskatchewan and Manitoba to Winnipeg before turning south and east to Duluth and on to the western end of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. We discovered real road trips in spite of the temptation to surf the Interstates.

You miss a lot, flying overhead or surfing the Interstates. For our entire lives we’ve been driving right by the historic, folkloric, geographic treasures that surrounded us as we grew up. We had never visited Northern Wisconsin’s Apostle Islands, Upper Michigan’s Pictured Rocks, or the grand daddy of all wilderness destinations, Isle Royale National Park in Lake Superior off the coast of Thunder Bay, Minnesota. Last summer we visited both the Apostle Islands and Pictured Rocks National Lakeshores. This summer we’re exploring Isle Royale with a RoadScholar adventure-study group.

Sunday, April 3, 2016 - Jon Harrison Blog: Red Tape

Isle Royale’s Lake Superior shoreline

Why would someone do such a thing—poking around a remote wilderness area in the middle of the world’s largest inland freshwater sea? It’s an experiment—my latest action research project into the practices of the spiritual life. I know well the spirit of refreshment that lifts me up when I hike in the Colorado Rockies. What would it be like to spend a week without cars, television, Internet, and telephones? What would it be like to hike in an island wilderness known for its 40-year long wolf-moose predator-prey study and a comprehensive 15-year old American-Canadian project to rid Lake Superior of persistent toxic chemicals?

What would it be like to put my ear to the planet on an island in a lake in a land formed by volcanism and upheaval, scoured by glaciers, and inhabited by humans for upwards of 9,000 years? What would happen to my interior if I had ears to hear what the rocks, trees, flowers, and creatures have to say to me and to us in the silence of this wild place?

Isle Royale is the first big step on this summer’s listening odyssey.

Our world, changing times, and how we’re evolving are always simmering in the back of my mind. A more humane future is hastened by our impatience with the world’s chronic injustices and invented in the ruminations and ponderings we’re willing to share. I’m deeply interested in what’s going on in other people’s lives and simmering in the back of their minds. I hope you will share your thoughts and wonderings.

Don’t be shy. I hate platitudes and thrive on candid give and take. My ego is under control and I learn by listening. Let’s talk about what’s important.



4 Responses to welcome

  1. john head says:

    david sir,
    probably talking a different way. Ironwood, Apostle Islands, Pictured Rocks, sea water, Rockies, wolf-moose predator studies all create suggestions, if not tensions, of me v. an eternal. These 6 items are religious in their provocation of thought. This thought can stay in the immediate vista or perhaps edge into self reflection. Why, who, where, what of me. An incarnation is possible every time if some quiet realization exists of the infinite within me and within everything I see/touch/feel/smell/hear. This paper suggests that the involuntary will to live is rooted within much of what I do. Will to live could be coded identity. Its strength per the noted energy. I am just presenting a pair of authors who approach this biologic identity energy from their religious perspectives. I merely widen it out a bit. Thank you sir.


  2. john Head says:

    “God is Not One: The Eight Rival Religions that Run the World – and why their Differences Matter,” and Wendy Doniger”s Other Scholar’s Myths: The Hunter and the Sage” in Other Peoples’ Myths respectively present facts and metaphors to detail their particular thoughts regarding humanity’s forms and formations of religion.
    Prothero says “each religion articulates; a problem, a solution…a technique…. an exemplar who chart this path from problem to solution.” Religion has Christian sin and Buddhist suffering while Hinduism and Judaism move to the narrative. Hindu’s many gods juxtapose Christianity’s one God. Christian sin or Buddha suffering is a heavy yoke to their respective believers. But Christianity and Buddhism have their appropriate solutions. Christianity has “faith and good works” [Prothero, 14]. Buddhism has the “Eightfold Path. [Prothero, 14].
    But they are not different paths up the same mountain to a god of love. Prothero thinks such multi-culturalism is “reimagining” [Prothero, 6.] religion. Instead realism requires an examination of religion’s sins as well as its grace. Sikhs killed Indira Gandhi and the Sunni Shia slaughter continues unabated. Religion is a power for tremendous good and likewise, tremendous evil.
    Doniger starts with myths and echoes. She suggests we do the proverbial moccasin walk, albeit at times we seem to “arrange our talents and weaknesses like the foolish blind man and the lame man…the lame man carried the blind man on his shoulders.” We may walk in another’s moccasins and carry another’s burden, but our ethnocentricity can miss the other’s message.
    Doniger runs the metaphysical energies of hunter and sage inside her mind and her readers mind to emphasize that whether our residence lies within the dreams of another or within our dreams, that “how impossible…how irrelevant it is to attempt to determine the precise level of consciousness at which we are existing.” The hunter experiences life through physical interaction with life’s agents. The sage attempts to enter the minds of life’s agents. But neither hunter nor sage is privy to the peculiar invisible in the other.
    Sages run the risk of getting inside the mythmaker mind and take on the myth of another. The absorbed myth may take up residence in the heart of the sage, “an enterprise that always affects the construction of a scholar’s worldview…may also affect one professional scholarship (the life as a sage).” [Doniger, 16.] The sage may feel the power of the other’s myth but must know the myth is different for believers and non-believers. Doniger observes both a “moral relativism” [Doniger, 20.] and an “ontological relativism” [Doniger, 20.] could exist within myth but examinations thereof can allow even more clarity in recognizing personal and societal bias. This clarity could permit an “eclecticism in personal cosmologies” to understand oneself and the other in matters of life and its powerful construct, religion.
    Prothero and Doniger move me to ask why religion exists? For myself, before community structure, the actor exists. The actor moves to pair, to family, and family to band. Certainly band moves to nation, to country. Singular becomes plural and humanity becomes community.
    Attachment Theory and the Evolutionary Psychology of Religion by Lee A. Kirkpatrick of the College of William and Mary says “attachment system…reliably develops in all humans…by attending to environmental information about the proximity of the primary caregiver and cues of potential danger.” Parental attachment increases survival chances. The noted family and band are kin, developing methodology and rule to increase survival. Adjacent neighboring kin prompts “social exchange…reciprocal altruism” [Kirkpatrick, 237.]
    The god, myths, rituals, and ritual makers could be an answer to the existential question of what are life’s meanings, the temporality of life, and present permanence of death. An attachment point for protection from the perils of the unexplained and vicissitudes of life might be the gods, Shiva, myths, and rituals, ad infinitum. Proportions of pleasure and pain reside in proximity or distance to the attachment figure, to their displays of methodology. Methodology’s displays certainly include religion with its gods, canons, and ritual makers.
    Prothero describes the what, the external and varying display of good and evil within religion. Doniger weaves a pair of actors, hunter and sage, into an eclectic cosmology for examination of gods, myths, and moods. I am trying to suggest upstream of both is the human biologic will to live.


    • David says:

      John, what on earth are you driving at? Perhaps it would help me understand what this is all about if you described the existential question you’re wrestling with.


  3. mellowmilan says:

    OK David, good start. I will delve into your archives a toe at a time. Everyone should have a blog. MM


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