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State Senator Speaks On Religion, Nature

By Amita M. Shukla

A California state senator said religion and spirituality can play a significant role in preserving the Earth and its natural resources at the University Lutheran Church last night.

"We think that nature is a vast storehouse that can be drawn on and then used as a disposal basin," said Tom Hayden, who represents the state's 23rd district. "We have a responsibility to restore and nourish the earth."

The speech was part of a promotional tour for Hayden's new book, The Lost Gospel of the Earth: A Call for Renewing Nature, Spirit and Politics.

Hayden said his latest work addresses the different ways in which religion can help to preserve the environment.

"The Lost Gospel is a mystical connectiveness with nature that is based on the belief that nature is indivisible and without secular attachments," Hayden said.

He said he himself has grappled with his religious beliefs. Although Hayden is an Irish Catholic, he said he has "had an off-and-on relationship with religion."

"I have wandered through the halls of many religious and spiritual experiences," Hayden said.

In an interview with The Crimson prior to his speech, Hayden said the movement to protect the Earth's resources needs to become more widespread.

"The environmentalist movement needs to be more populist, we need to tie environmental issues to the fate of working people," he said. "And we also need to be more spiritual and ethical."

Emphasizing that the environment is a topic that should get serious attention in political debates, Hayden offered his views on how the presidential candidates have tackled the issues.

"Clinton is using the environment as a wedge issue; he is at least conscious about the debate of the environment," Hayden said. "With Dole, it seemed the environment emerged as an issue after he completed his learning."

Manlio A. Goetzl contributed to the reporting of this story.

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