Fake News, Matt Ridley, and Daniel Pinchbeck: 5 Things to Read this Week

1. 7 Things We Learned About the Earth This Year

We’ll start with an easy one. I found this interesting, in part because it didn’t just wallow in the usual parade of bad news that we get on Earth Day about impending climate disasters. I’m not saying we shouldn’t be concerned about climate; obviously that’s an important issue. it’s just that our contemporary media leans so strongly toward reporting on problems and not on solutions or promising trends that it’s important to balance it out from time to time. This article contains the good and the bad.

7 Things We Learned About the Earth

 

2. Daniel Pinchbeck and the Revolution/Apocalypse 

Daniel Pinchbeck has a new book out and author Gary Lachman reviews it on his blog. What is interesting is that these two both come from the esoteric side of the counterculture. Pinchbeck by way of his psychedelia, Burning Man-esque, shamanistic, countercultural celebrity. Lachman by way of his transformation from band member of Blondie to serious scholar and accomplished author. He’s actually a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. He’s written books on Jung, Swedenborg, Steiner, Ouspensky–just to name a few. He’s tough thinker, independent thinker, and knows the territory of western esoteric mysticism like few others.

Daniel Pinchbeck and his book

Daniel Pinchbeck

I was not a fan of the strange messianism of Pinchbeck’s last book 2012: The Return of Quezalcoatl, though he is an engaging writer and good storyteller. Pinchbeck latest book, How Soon is Now?  complete with introduction by progressive hero Russell Brand, is sure to generate enthusiasm, given Pinchbeck’s standing in the countercultural scene.

Lachman’s review, “Who will Save us from the Saviors?”, suggests that Pinchbeck’s solutions for our cultural and ecological crisis are too authoritarian and illiberal. One of the many problems with apocalyptic thinking–spiritual or religious or ecological or cultural–is that it gives you permission to embrace your own inner authoritarian “if-I-ruled-the-world” tendencies with a kind of “ends justify the means” gusto. Lachman’s carefully deconstructs this Pinchbeck’s ill-conceived plans for collective evolution, which come to think of it, don’t sounds that different from things we here on the more secular side of the progressive spectrum. Apparently, he invokes the spirit of Teilhard De Chardin to make his point. Lachman suggests he misunderstands Teilhard. I’ve met Pinchbeck; I liked him personally. I’m sure he’s very well intentioned. But as someone who also wrote a book in which thoughts of collective evolution and Teilhard de Chardin played a significant role, let me just say that we always have to be careful that our cultural “cures” are not worse than the disease. Who will save us from the saviors, indeed?

This article was also a reminder of how much I enjoy Lachman’s thoughts and writings. It is rare for anyone to be so fascinated by and well-versed in esoteric mysticism and western spiritual traditions while maintain a healthy sense of skepticism and rationality at the same time—a quality well demonstrated in this review. I recommend it, and him, wholeheartedly. Below is a brief excerpt.

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