Finding his idealism challenged by the reactionary forces that have proliferated in the post-9/11 world, Don Hanlon Johnson felt a need to recover more sober visions of hope amid the many reasons for despair and cynicism. Everyday Hopes, Utopian Dreams is a bracing backward turn toward the diverse and often conflicting visions passed down to Johnson by his immigrant ancestors who settled in the Sacramento Valley in the nineteenth century. Through stories about neighborhood, local churches, hunting and fishing, driving, cooking, heavy construction, and schools, he examines what in our forebears' ideals continue to nurture us and what aspects of those ideals carry germs of personal and social harm. Johnson's descriptions offer a lens for recovering the deep soul of America—one that deserves attention as a model for progressives and anyone concerned the directions our country has taken in response to 9/11.
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Don Hanlon Johnson is a professor of Somatics at the California Institute of Integral Studies in San Francisco. He holds a PhD in philosophy and an MA in theology. In the past forty years, Johnson has published six books and countless articles in which he has cultivated an approach to nonfiction writing that grounds theory in narrative material.Review:
“[Everyday Hopes, Utopian Dreams] is an earthy meditation on the interplay of practical struggles and idealistic visions and a vivid tale of Johnson’s struggles to embody his own ideals amid the despairs of our day. Reading this book I felt the double pleasure of all good tales: the satisfaction of getting to know unique people and places whose stories hold universal insights. He shares his personal life with candor, vulnerability, and an appealing curiosity and “beginner’s mind.” But it is the archetypal nature of his struggles that makes his personal journey resonate with each of our journeys, giving his book its touch of the universal. He shares the “muck of personal struggle,” never gratuitously, but always in the light of his effort to orient himself toward what is best in our human potential.”
"Don Hanlon Johnson here brings together his rich history as a philosopher, ex-Jesuit, and leading Somatics scholar to address some of the major issues facing America today. In the face of the many sad commentaries on our times, this incisive, deeply felt book gives us a solid basis for hope."
—Michael Murphy, founder of the Esalen Institute and author of The Future of the Body
"This important book arrives at a pivotal moment in American history. Perhaps because it is conceived through an honestly told story, embodied and located, Everyday Hopes, Utopian Dreams finds a way past the cynicism so many feel today to give us a grounded vision of what a good society is and how we might best accomplish it. And in fact, the book is a pleasure to read."
—Susan Griffin, author of A Chorus of Stones: The Private Life of War
"In this wise and intimate reflection, Don Johnson weds personal and universal, philosophy and family, his own life and the great dance of our times. He retrieves hidden gems from his Jesuit training, reworks his own and our shared sorrows, and reimagines how we can live with the sacredness of the body. He offers us perspective, and hope."
—Jack Kornfield, author of A Path with Heart
"...Always, Johnson's vitality wins out over the despair that is never too far away. The result is a refreshing fragment of the holy, fashioned out of what might have otherwise seemed mundane."
—David Harris, author of The Crisis
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