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Life Arts    H1'ed 3/9/18

Mousetrap Earth

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This was originally presented as a sermon at the Franklin, NC, Unitarian Universalist Congregation on March 4, 2018. It has not previously been published. The opening and closing quotes are sung.
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" Ground control to Major Tom
Ground control to Major Tom

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Take your protein pills and put your helmet on

Ground control to Major Tom.

Commencing lift-off engines on

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Commencing lift-off engines on

Check ignition and may God's love be with you"

-David Bowie Space Oddity


In December 1968, an image of our whole earth, shot on the first Apollo mission to circle the moon, shifted our perception of the planet. The immediate feeling was that w e live on a small and fragile and lovely blue dot in a cold dark cosmos. The argument has been made that this image, more than any other specific idea or event, gave birth to the modern environmental movement. We were suddenly one people on one planet. We were immensely lucky and at the same time deeply vulnerable. One blue dot in the vastness of space.


That same year, creative genius R. Buckminster Fuller published Operating Manual for Spaceship Earth, a book widely credited with popularizing the idea of our planet as a hospitable craft. He warned about the threat posed by burning fossil fuels and urged that we acknowledge our effect on what he called the air-ocean world. One of his key themes was that if we focussed our efforts on what he called "livingry" instead of "weaponry" we could easily provide for every human being on the planet.

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Actually, the first use of the phrase "spaceship earth" is generally credited to Barbara Mary Ward, a British economist and an early advocate of sustainable development. Like Fuller her message was "this is a nice place, don't mess it up." But also like Fuller, her analysis was that we are fortunate to live in a paradise and that preservation of that paradise was key to our successful future.


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