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Pedal Power solutions to petroleum dependence and polluting vehicles: Arcata Library Bikes, Pedal Power Produce, and more!

CAOE - Committee Against Oil Exploration - stop offshore oil drilling to protect sensitive habitats and cut petroleum dependence.

Culture Change through music! The Depavers eco-rock!

Take our Pledge for Climate Protection and learn about the Global Warming Crisis Council.

SEI hometown action!
Arcata city council's proclamation against war on Iraq and Kyoto Protocol proclamation.

Overpopulation has become a reality.  Overpopulation Resources and News Tidbits

Sail Transport Network

Fact Sheets
Press Releases

Long Distance


A message from Daniel Quinn

"I heartily endorse the goals of Culture Change. Unless our culture changes (and very dramatically), our kind faces a very brief future on this planet (and will take down millions of other species with us). But culture change is itself a result—of mind change. When minds change, cultures change automatically. When minds don't change, however, we're limited to passing ever harsher, ever more exacting new laws for people with old minds to break. Changing minds is something we can all collaborate on as we go about our daily lives, whether we're executives or flunkies, teachers or students, judges or prison inmates, rock stars or bus drivers, world leaders or homeless wanderers—and every mind counts (because you never know what that mind will get up to!)."

Daniel Quinn
August, 2001

Author, Ishmael, The Story of B, My Ishmael,  Beyond Civilization, After Dachau, and The Holy


Book review: The Holy by Daniel Quinn

Culture Change e-Letter #9   December 2002 

Review of Daniel Quinn's The Holy 
Be Yourself, Spiritual Man!

by Jan Lundberg

The story in Daniel Quinn’s new book, The Holy, concerns two main themes that hit me over the head: (1) independent living, i.e., being yourself and following your best potential destiny, and (2) modern humans in the consumer culture are unaware of the power of nature and of the universe. The expression of the second theme takes the form of spiritualism, paranormal phenomena, religion, and myth which are all essential to the exciting plot.

Yet, even if one recoils from either new-age beliefs or older spiritual traditions—as a choice of subjects for reading-material—it is marvelous to follow Daniel Quinn’s literary odyssey in the form of another new, gripping story.

Perception of the material world has limited our ability to experience life more directly and intensely. We can be sure there are some events or experiences that most people on any day might find hard to relate to. This being the case, and given the power of dreaming, Daniel Quinn is thus allowed much maneuvering room to weave a riveting tale that takes the reader into uncharted territory.

A man in modern day Chicago is hired to investigate what happened to the gods that the Israelites adopted and worshipped after they got to "the promised land." The Israelites had turned their back on the True (Sky) God that supposedly delivered them from Egypt. The new local gods were not just another name for the god we have come to associate with the Israelites and their spiritual offshoots the Christians and Muslims. The interim gods were worshipped for hundreds of years, and were not thereafter called by the Bible phony or nonexistent, but instead acknowledged as extant. Baal is one of those old gods referred to, among others (as Daniel Quinn informs us), while the book’s hero is posed the intriguing challenge that transcends theology. Off we go onto a science-fiction type ride. Whoopee, I couldn’t put the book down.

Our protagonist has the adventure of his life. In the telling of Howard the private investigator’s assignment and pursuit of the real record, the narration of the characters’ exploits and realizations provide ample opportunity for Quinn to discuss some of his favorite topics. Those include the history of civilization, religious thought, the sacredness of nature, and the regimentation of lives caught in the dominant culture.

Many may gather a simplistic message that takes The Holy literally, much as some take everything in the Bible literally. And that would be that "we are not alone"; there are spiritual or mystical beings around us who only appear to be human. This literary device is questionable if people are really expected to believe that some creature or "god" can appear outside your window with horns sticking out of his head—I mean "for real," not a Halloween prank.

Nevertheless, if one can allow that some things can be imagined and thus believed, or that this is just a story so let’s go along with the idea, then we are entertained and educated. Personally, I am not fascinated with people’s confusion over who and what their Devil is or is not. Yet, for the intellectual interested in tracing our culture’s roots, Quinn delivers again as he did with Ishmael in 1991.

Who am I to insist on more realism and depressing fact-telling regarding today’s threatened and stressful world? So I just grit my teeth, as readers get the message that the book says things can and will turn out all right in the end—such as plenty of money and pleasurable excitement. The characters end up with more friends, fun, wealth, and wisdom than the typical citizen is likely to ever find even if he or she were more adventurous than some of the characters in The Holy. They get in their cars and magic happens. Even though I think cars are a terrible mistake to mass produce and depend on, I know (as Daniel Quinn knows) the average American still thinks in terms of cars offering freedom down an unknown road. The characters are lucky in their otherwise industrial lot in life, except for a couple of casualties in this spiritual and metaphysical yarn.

Meanwhile, The Holy’s characters and our real world face possible holocaust of the nuclear kind. They also suffer from overpopulation. The economic system keeps everyone in a humdrum world of depressing materialistic pursuit that doesn’t quite pan out unless one is supremely fortunate or blithely unethical. But all in all, we can be glad some people are better off in a fictional happy ending of sorts, for our reading pleasure. And curmudgeons like me can still get off on this book!

The above conclusion—of modest materialism working out okay—can be a major message of the book to a new Quinn reader, and is still worth the risk of The Holy. For the need of Joe or Jane Mainstream to be made to think about humanity’s treatment of the Earth is worth whatever an author can bring to bear, such as a talking gorilla in Ishmael. This time, the literary device is going to be taken more literally, by a large audience perhaps—even more so than reincarnation could be taken literally in Quinn’s After Dachau (2000). But The Holy will still certainly get people further along the way to enlightened comprehension than if they consumed only their usual mass media exposure.

Hats off to a great story teller who allows us to see our common history and fate more deeply and clearly: Daniel Quinn. I would recommend to a new Quinn reader to read one of his other books before reading The Holy, to be more sure of where the author is really coming from. (My favorite Quinn work might be The Story of B.) I hope a huge audience will discover The Holy and many more works from Daniel Quinn to come.


For more information on Daniel Quinn visit his web site.


Jan Lundberg is an editor with Culture Change magazine, and president of Sustainable Energy Institute, in Arcata, northern California.  Contributing to this review's editing was Joseph Shermis, who handles advertising and other duties for Culture Change. Daniel Quinn helped inspire Culture Change, and specifically Jan Lundberg's recent e-column Health Care Tribe which features Howard (named after the protagonist of The Holy).


Articles of interest:
Anti-globalization protest grows, with tangible results.  WTO protests page

Tax fossil-fuel energy easily
by Peter Salonius

UK leader calls War on Terror "bogus"

Argentina bleeds toward healing by Raul Riutor

The oil industry has plans for you: blow-back by Jan Lundberg

It's not a war for oil? by Adam Khan

How to create a pedestrian mall by Michelle Wallar

The Cuban bike revolution

How GM destroyed the U.S. rail system excerpts from the film "Taken for a Ride".

"Iraqi oil not enough for US: Last days of America?"

Depaving the world by Richard Register

Roadkill: Driving animals to their graves by Mark Matthew Braunstein

The Hydrogen fuel cell technofix: Spencer Abraham's hydrogen dream.

Ancient Forest Protection in Northern California . Forest defenders climb trees to save them.

Daniel Quinn's thoughts on this website.

A case study in unsustainable development is the ongoing crisis in Palestine and Israel.

Renewable and alternative energy information.

Conserving energy at home (Calif. Title 24)



Culture Change/Sustainable Energy Institute mailing address: P.O. Box 3387 , Santa Cruz , California 95063 USA
  Telephone 1-215-243-3144 (and fax)

Culture Change (Trademarked) is published by Sustainable Energy Institute (formerly Fossil Fuels Policy Action), a nonprofit, 501(c)(3) California non-stock corporation. Contributions are tax-deductible.