Sacred Trusts Essay - Critical Essays

Sacred Trusts

In Michael Katakis’ short introduction to this paperback, he ties life to honor, duty, and courage and to the writer’s purpose to provoke readers. As the collection’s contents demonstrate, the editor has successfully compiled an interesting and inspirational book about humanity’s honor, duty, and courage to live with the planet and pass it on to future generations.

The material is almost as diverse as its subject matter. There are pieces by magazine writer Bill McKibben (OUTSIDE, ROLLING STONE) and novelist John Nichols (THE MILAGRO BEANFIELD WAR, THE STERILE CUCKOO); fly fisherman George Anderson and poet/insurance executive Ted Kooser; author Wendall Berry (FIDELITY: FIVE STORIES) and clothing manufacturer/mountain climber Yvon Chouinard.

The collection’s writers circle around and sweep down on a potentially dull and seemingly overdone target: the topic of people’s responsibility to the environment. Using various routes, each reaches the goal: warning readers that people must change or else risk passing to succeeding inhabitants an inhospitable place.

Berry connects Christianity to conservationists’ debate and examines the unfair cliches that have been used to criticize religious culpability for ecological degradation. As Berry shows, biblical teachings stress the very behavior that conservationists claim as ideal.

Robert F. Jones in “A Modest Proposal: The Sequel” achieves a Swiftian tone in his satirical suggestions for righting the wrongs that are leading to global destruction. His initial ideas may seem mild (free birth control, licenses for having children, different means for sexual gratification), but his concluding paragraphs accelerate the humor—and even the wisdom (subsidizing blood feuds, recognizing AIDS as a “natural corrective,” awarding a Nobel prize to Dr. Jack Kevorkian).

Perhaps the most touching is Nichols’ piece, “The Day Lee Brodsky Died,” in which the narrator reflects on death and life by hiking and hunting and communing with the flora and fauna he seeks and finds. The sensitive, simple and seamless work reads like good fiction: believable and meaningful.

Equally, SACRED TRUSTS reads like good writing: captivating and inspiring.