Cover image for The values of belonging : rediscovering balance, mutuality, intuition, and wholeness in a competitive world
The values of belonging : rediscovering balance, mutuality, intuition, and wholeness in a competitive world
Flinders, Carol.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
[San Francisco] : HarperSanFrancisco, [2002]

Physical Description:
xxxii, 224 pages ; 24 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
BJ1533.C74 F58 2002 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

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The Values of Belonging breaks new ground by examining human value systems from the perspective of how we live, not our gender. "There is a way of being in the world that recoils from aggressiveness, cunning, and greed," writes bestselling author Carol Lee Flinders. This way of being arose out of the relationships our hunter-gatherer ancestors had with the natural world, one another, and Spirit -- relationships that are most acutely understood in terms of trust, inclusion, and mutual reciprocity. This society's core values, which include intimate connection with the land, empathetic relationship with animals, self-restraint, balance, expressiveness, generosity, egalitarianism, playfulness, and nonviolent conflict resolution, are what Flinders calls the "values of Belonging."

But with the Agricultural Revolution, as people took charge of what they could grow and where, the nature of human society changed. Once we could produce enough food to have surpluses, food could be bartered. The concept of ownership took on new meaning; more complex economies evolved, and with them came social and economic inequities. Qualities that had been reviled, such as competitiveness, acquisitiveness, and ambition, became under these new conditions the means to success. God underwent a transformation as well, becoming masculine, supreme, and finally located above and beyond us in the heavens. Flinders observes that these "values of Enterprise" have played a crucial role in the development of human society, having given us our passion for innovation and exploration of our world. But, whether negative or positive, the values of Enterprise, which became associated with men, overwhelmed the values of Belonging, which were identified with women. This division has impoverished us all.

The values that shaped the hunter-gatherer's life reflected the need for connection, while those that fueled the Agricultural Revolution, and the subsequent rise of civilization as we know it, resulted in disconnection -- from nature, other people, and Spirit. The two value systems could not be more deeply at odds. Because the values of Enterprise have prevailed, the entire world stands in acute and perilous imbalance. And yet there are those who have managed to keep the values of Belonging alive, while successfully negotiating Enterprise culture.

In this fresh look at gender relationships, Flinders moves away from the dichotomy of male as oppressor and female as victim. She sees models for a new balance in the lives of visionaries, artists, and mystics such as the Buddha, Baal Shem Tov, Teresa of Avila, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, John Muir, and Martin Luther King Jr., each of whom mirrors the essence of Belonging values for the world. This thought-provoking book adds an exciting dimension to the debate about Western values and where we are headed.

Author Notes

Carol Lee Flinders, holds a Ph.D. in Comparative Literature and is a wellknown speaker and teacher who has taught writing and mystical literature courses at the University of California, Berkeley

Reviews 1

Publisher's Weekly Review

Flinders, who is best known as a coauthor of the bestselling vegetarian cookbook Laurel's Kitchen, has also taught religion and women's studies at the University of California, Berkeley, and now offers an earth-friendly, gender-neutral philosophy for repairing the world. Drawing inspiration from the traditions and cultures of the Native American Ohlone and Pomo Indian tribes that once flourished in her northern California community, she observes that although the tribes did not have a goddess culture, "these were a people who honored women, particularly their female elders... Men and women performed different tasks and played different kinds of games, but the things that concerned women most urgently concerned men also." Calling for a return to this Native American model, free of the restraints of what she calls "gender straightjacketing," Flinders laments the culture clash many people face today, in which the communal values of preagricultural "belonging" societies are at odds with the individualistic, competitive values of our current "enterprise" society. The tone in her loosely organized but entertaining chapters alternates between the academic (she teaches readers the Latin roots of the word "aboriginal") and the anecdotal (e.g., a minister's wife tells her that her husband is experiencing "parish envy" because he wants a bigger congregation). Despite Flinders's strong storytelling skills, though, readers may be disappointed with the book, which, although intriguing at times, presents few groundbreaking ideas in feminist studies. Agent, Candace Fuhrman. (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Table of Contents

Invocation: Sedge Grass, Willow & Redbudp. ix
Introduction: Seeing Wholep. xi
Part I The Values of Belongingp. 1
Chapter 1 A Sturdy Web, Closely Wovenp. 7
Chapter 2 At Home in the World: The LifeWays of Hunter-Gatherersp. 13
Chapter 3 The Sense We Made of Things: Religion and the Hunter-Gatherersp. 30
Chapter 4 The Constellation We Steered By: The Values of Belongingp. 42
Part II The Values of Enterprisep. 59
Chapter 5 Tearing the Web: The Genesis of Agriculturep. 65
Chapter 6 Taking Control: The LifeWays of Farmersp. 70
Chapter 7 Wherein Women Are Enclosed, and We All Get Religionp. 86
Chapter 8 A Changed World: The Values of Enterprisep. 105
Part III Cultures That Never Stop Clashingp. 123
Chapter 9 Falling Forward: Cultures of Enterprisep. 127
Chapter 10 Staying Power: The Culture of Belonging over Timep. 146
Chapter 11 The Quickening Spirit of Changep. 163
Part IV All of a Piecep. 189
Chapter 12 Reclaiming Balance and Wholenessp. 191
Notesp. 209
Acknowledgmentsp. 215
Indexp. 217