RNA Newsletter – November 2021

Hello Everyone!

When folks become RNA members, we ask what led them to an RN orientation, and many have mentioned their reading of my 1998 book, The Sacred Depths of Nature, in their response. The book consists of 12 chapters on our science-based understandings of the natural world, each accompanied by personal reflections on these understandings from an RN perspective. Chapter titles: Origin of the Earth; Origins of Life; How Life Works; How an Organism Works; How Evolution Works; The Evolution of Biodiversity; Awareness, Emotions and Meaning; Sex; Sexuality; Multicellularity and Death; Speciation.

The text now being 25 years old, I’ve launched the writing of a second edition. One reason is that in some cases the science has been amended: humans now have ~25,000 genes, not  ~200,000; the universe is now 13.8 billion years old, not 15 billion. More importantly, new concepts have been developed on such matters as how life originated, how brains develop, and how human s evolved that I am eager to present. I also plan a new stand-alone chapter on morality and ecomorality, topics that are scattered throughout the first edition. And most important, my 25 years of interactions with other religious naturalists, in person and in writings, have greatly enriched my RN sensibilities, sensibilities that will hopefully expand and deepen my reflections.

Which brings me to a heart-felt request. It would be of enormous help to me if those of you who have read the book might consider taking the time to send me (goodenough@wustl.edu) your thoughts on what features were valuable and what I might do to make it better this time around. 

Here’s a list of questions, where you are of course free to respond to a subset thereof and/or to convey your evaluation along other lines. I realize that some of you may have read it long ago and retain only general impressions, but even very short comments – e.g. I remember liking X about it, not so much Y – would be very useful.

  • If  you own a copy, might there be places, or whole chapters, where you got lost, bored etc. and scribbled words to this effect in the margins? Did you note places that really worked for you?
  • Are there current science parts that might merit expansion or condensation? 
  • Which reflections were meaningful, which were meh? 
  • What science-based or reflection-based material might be added?
  • Length: too short? too long? 
  • Might you refer me to poems or quotations that merit inclusion, including your own?

Thank you so much. Again, the e-address is goodenough@wustl.edu. Should you prefer to talk, I’m at 508-645-9818.

The music selection this month, now a regular Newsletter feature from our RNA Music Group, is a Mozart piano sonata that expands the Mozart metaphor offered in Sacred Depths. Like this sonata, the evolution of life has entailed establishing beautiful themes and then spinning out beautiful variations.    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vp_h649sZ9A


With love to you all –


Ursula Goodenough

President, RNA