Vanishing Things

In search of the sacred


What: Rob Lewis reads from The Silence of Vanishing Things

When: 7 pm Thu., Oct. 12

Where: Village Books, 1200 11th St.

Cost: Entry is free

Info: http://www.villagebooks.com

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

What if rather than proclaiming “I have a dream,” Martin Luther King Jr. said “I have a scientific study?”

What if rather than invoking a “table of brotherhood,” he invoked sociological statistics?

What if rather than calling out for all people to join hands and sing to be “free at last,” King called out for “mitigation of racial impacts?”

Well, we can assume his speech would’ve never galvanized a nation to face the stubborn demons of its slaveholding past. The rampant destruction of the natural world around us calls for a similar moral clarity, and a similar spiritual ambition, yet when we talk about it we do so in the objective vernacular of science, and more recently, technology.

Rather than referring to sacred sources for our arguments, we refer to scientific ones. Rather than describing the situation through the clarifying imagery of symbols and metaphors, we do so with the obscuring objectivity of numbers. Perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised that even in the midst of a sixth planetary extinction, the environment still polls at the bottom of voters’ concerns.

Despite mountains of data, there remains a strange human silence around the most profound spasm of biological collapse we humans have ever encountered. I call it the “silence of vanishing things,” which is the title of a book I am self-publishing through the Independent Publishing Program at Village Books.

The Silence of Vanishing Things asks a simple question: Where’s the howl? Through three essays and 60 poems it attempts some sort of answer by looking at the question through the lens of language, calling for a sacred, more poetic narrative to help break the silence and engage the human spirit in the fight of our times.

It also seeks to break down the false categories that separate humans from the rest of creation, for the only place where we’re actually separate is in our heads. And since language is only a context for action, it celebrates activism, with a personal account of a largely unreported vigil by “kayaktivists” in June 2015, aimed at the Shell Arctic drilling vessel, Noble Discover.

One thing The Silence of Vanishing Things doesn’t do, I hope, is point accusingly at science or environmentalism. Although I dislike the word (for reasons explained in the book), I consider myself an “environmentalist.” And I greatly admire the scientists out there working like mad to understand what we’re doing to this earth and to warn us of the dire situation we’re creating. The problem is not in the effort, but the language. We need a new story, and fast.

Am I naive to think words can change the world? No, but we don’t need to change the world. We need to change ourselves, and that is the work of language. Consider this observation of Mother Teresa, “Words lead to deeds, they prepare the soul, make it ready…”

Smoking Crow
More Words...
The Immortalists
A date with death

It’s halfway through a humid summer in 1969 on New York City’s Lower East Side, and the four Gold siblings are restless. There is no air-conditioning in the house, and life seems to be happening to everyone else but them. Kids are getting wasted at Woodstock, there is rioting outside the…

more »
Quiet Wisdom
The Turtle of Oman

When news headlines emphasize violence and strife, it can be comforting to engross oneself in a “gentle read,” and Naomi Shihab Nye’s delightful novel The Turtle of Oman fills the bill.

Although intended for a grade-school audience, it’s appropriate for adult readers, too,…

more »
Love and Loss
Fighting for trans equality

Things are never as bad as they seem.

A brighter spot can always be found if you just look for it and there’s always something to be thankful for—a way of making yourself feel better because things aren’t as they seem.

And in the case of Sarah McBride’s new book, Tomorrow Will Be…

more »
Boynton Poetry Contest

8:00am|Whatcom County

Daffodil Festival

10:00am|La Conner and the Skagit Valley

World Water Day Beach Cleanup

12:00pm|Locust Beach

English Country Dancing

1:30pm|Bellingham Senior Activity Center

Toward Zero Waste Workshop

1:30pm|Kombucha Town's Culture Cafe

Happy Hour Thursdays

4:00pm|Downtown Bellingham

Trivia Thursday

5:30pm|Trove Coffee

Jazz Jam

5:30pm|Illuminati Brewing

Jazz Jam

5:30pm|Illuminati Brewing

Pub Run

6:00pm|BBay Running


6:00pm|Ciao Thyme Commons

South Fork Exploration

6:30pm|Van Zandt Community Hall

Balkan Folk Dancers

7:00pm|Fairhaven Library

Fitness Forum

7:00pm|Fairhaven Runners

Crown Jewel Wilderness

7:00pm|Village Books

Havilah Rand House Concert

7:30pm|Chuckanut Center

Cascadia Weekly Subscribe Ad 1
Boynton Poetry Contest

8:00am|Whatcom County

Daffodil Festival

10:00am|La Conner and the Skagit Valley

Women's Conference Registration Deadline

9:00am|Bellwether Ballroom

Wild Things

9:30am|Whatcom Falls Park

Coffee Tasting

3:00pm|Camber Cafe

Food Not Bombs

4:00pm|Downtown Bellingham

Fourth Friday Art Walk

5:00pm|Historic Fairhaven

Bingo Night

6:00pm|The Majestic

From Auschwitz to America

7:00pm|Village Books

The Book of Moron

7:30pm|McIntyre Hall

Adventures and Brawls

8:00pm|Upfront Theatre

Village Books Trove Web
Daffodil Festival

10:00am|La Conner and the Skagit Valley

The Book of Moron

7:30pm|McIntyre Hall

Adventures and Brawls

8:00pm|Upfront Theatre

Pancake Breakfast

8:00am|American Legion Hall

NSEA Work Party

9:00am|Squalicum Creek Park

Native Plant Sale & Expo

9:00am|Whatcom Community College

Whatcom County Democrats Convention

10:00am|Bellingham High School

Rock & Gem Club Show

10:00am|Bloedel Donovan Community Center

Starting Your Vegetable Garden

10:00am|Blaine Library

March for Our Lives

10:00am|Bellingham City Hall

Walk for Water

10:00am|Fairhaven Village Green

Tax Help Available

12:30pm| First Congregational Church


1:00pm|Lincoln Theatre

Spring Show Opening Reception

2:00pm|River Gallery

Native Plants & Birds

2:00pm|Ferndale Library

A Conversation with Alan Friedlob

3:00pm|Deming Library

The Passage Home to Meuse

4:00pm|Lynden Village Books

Memory's Blade

7:00pm|Village Books

Contra Dance

7:00pm| Fairhaven Library

Shantala and Friends

7:00pm|Presence Studio

Ballroom Dance

7:30pm|Bellingham Senior Activity Center

see our complete calendar »

Trove Web Cascadia Weekly Subscribe Ad 1 Village Books Best Of Skagit