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High Uintas Bookshelf

A High Uintas Bookshelf

In this column we’ll list 2-4 interesting articles, books or the like that have caught our attention. They aren’t necessarily recent or recently read-- sort of a random compilation. Within a year, hopefully, we’ll have an established and detailed reading list. It won’t be complete without your additions. Please send suggestions and a descriptive sentence or two.

Decade of the Wolf. Douglas Smith and Gary Ferguson. The Lyons Press. 2005. Reviewed by Brenda Schussman.

Ten years have passed since wolves were reintroduced into Yellowstone National Park. Decade of the Wolf is a well-documented and thoroughly researched account of the past ten years. Doug Smith, Wolf Project leader for the reintroduction efforts, describes the science, the beauty, the mystique, the reality, and the lessons learned so far regarding wolves in the Yellowstone ecosystem.
As he details all that has happened with the wolves, he also describes the many people involved in the day-to-day operations – those charged with observation, oversight and responsibility – as well as the thousands of wolf watchers who come to Yellowstone to see wolves, to hear them, or just to know that they’re out there somewhere.
Smith and Ferguson’s vivid imagery is a lyrical testimony to the beauty of the wolves: “…the memory of wolves running like the wind through the Lamar Valley, or sliding down snowfields in fits of play, or even sleeping away a summer afternoon in the tall grass, can be a remarkable touchstone to that which makes our lives and our culture just a little more fascinating, a little more rich with wonder.”
Decade of the Wolf is abundant with scientific detail. Yet, there is a strong, emotional message throughout that emphasizes the need for all of us to stay close to nature. Smith believes that he has been most fortunate to have had the incredible experiences that his job offers him. At the same time, he impresses upon the reader how much our culture has lost, as it becomes rarer for members of our culture to experience wild, natural places. The book leaves the reader with this sentiment: “Gone from most people’s lives are the simple, wondrous prompts of nature, triggers that once sparked in us not just a sense of beauty, but the pleasures of place. There sits the weight, the burden of these times. And it lies as a stone in the heart of even the richest lives.”
This book educates us, touches us deeply, and inspires us to seek out experiences in those places most dear to us.

Author’s note: Gary Ferguson first wrote about reintroduction efforts in The Yellowstone Wolves (1996). Doug Smith’s first book, The Wolves of Yellowstone, co-authored with Mike Phillips, was also published in 1996.

Simpler Living; Compassionate Life: A Christian Perspective. Edited/compiled by Michael Schut.
Reviewed by Fr. Rick Sherman.

This is a book of essays by contemporary authors of a variety of Christian faiths suggesting a true spirituality for our age. As committed Christians, the authors realize that for Christianity to be actualized, it must provide a true vision of sustainable living that is based on the Plan already devised by God. This Plan can only be played out if people understand their true relationship with God, each other and the rest of the created order of the world. Christians need to understand the true values espoused by Jesus Christ and the prophetic tradition from which he came and also understand the cultural values we as Americans actually live by. The essayists would suggest that the two are not the same and American Christians would do well to carefully sort through our day-to-day values and assumptions and commit to the level of change/conversion necessary for living harmonious, sustainable and righteous lives. This sorting out requires deep personal introspection as well as a deep systemic analysis. It cannot be done individually.
Essayists from a variety of disciplines (such as Wendell Barry, Cecile Andrews, Henri Nouwen, Gerald May, Michael Schut, Terry Tempest Williams, Richard Foster and others) provide a very challenging and inspired structure for thinking through our sense and use of time, money and resources as well as the type of sacred space and relationships we need in our lives. The last fourth of the book provides a format for individual reflection and group discussion which accommodates up to 12 sessions. Members of St. Pius X Catholic Church and others from the wider Moab community are currently in session 9 of the discussions. We have found our meetings at times depressing, enlightening, disconcerting and downright hopeful. If religion and environmentalism are looking for a common language, they can surely find some of it here—but be prepared for some serious soul-searching.

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