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For more than two centuries, as Western cultures became ever more industrialized, the natural world was increasingly regarded as little more than a collection of useful raw resources. The folklore of powerful forest spirits was displaced by the practicalities of logging; the traditional rituals of hunting ceremonies gave way to indiscriminate butchering of animals for meat markets. In the famous lament of Max Weber, our surroundings became 'disenchanted', with nature's magic swept away by secularization and rationalization. But as acclaimed sociologist James William Gibson reveals in this insightful study, the culture of enchantment is making an astonishing comeback. From Greenpeace eco-warriors to evangelical Christians preaching 'creation care' and geneticists who speak of human-animal kinship, Gibson finds a remarkably broad yearning for a spiritual reconnection to nature. As we grapple with increasingly dire environmental disasters, Gibson points to this cultural shift as the last utopian dream, the final hope for protecting the world that all of us must live in.
James William Gibson is the author of Warrior Dreams: Paramilitary Culture in Post-Vietnam America and The Perfect War: Technowar in Vietnam. A frequent contributor to the Los Angeles Times and winner of multiple awards, including a Guggenheim, Gibson is a professor of sociology at California State University, Long Beach. He lives in Los Angeles.