Devoted to Nature: The Religious Roots of American by Evan Berry

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By Evan Berry

Dedicated to Nature explores the spiritual underpinnings of yank environmentalism, tracing the theological personality of yankee environmental notion from its Romantic foundations to modern nature spirituality. throughout the Gilded Age and the revolutionary period, spiritual assets have been imperative to the formation of the yank environmental mind's eye, shaping rules concerning the wildlife, setting up practices of engagement with environments and landscapes, and producing new modes of social and political interplay. development at the paintings of seminal environmental historians who recognize the environmental movement’s non secular roots, Evan Berry deals a effective theoretical corrective to the narrative that defined the presence of spiritual components within the stream good into the 20th century. specifically, Berry argues that an explicitly Christian realizing of salvation underlies the movement’s orientation towards the wildlife. Theologically derived ideas of salvation, redemption, and religious growth haven't basically supplied the elemental context for Americans’ ardour for nature yet have additionally proven the horizons of hazard in the nationwide environmental mind's eye.

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Homo viator, the trope of wandering toward salvation, was tremendously influential for subsequent Christian apologetics as diverse as Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress and Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe. Unlike his literary successors, though, Augustine cannot fully lay claim to his own journey, which is initiated and impelled by God. Human beings are but wishful wanderers drawn toward God’s immovability. Our movement toward God is hampered, however, by our propensity to be distracted from the eternal by the material and mundane.

These three general changes were not the cause or result of an explicit rejection of theological tradition; rather, the broad arc of medieval and early modern Christianity bears evidence of gradual transmutations through which the possibility of “mountain glory” arose. An inquisitive rereading of the Western theological treatment of nature suggests some of the threads that connect our modern ideas about recreation to their theological roots. Recreation and Soteriology / 29 the nature of human depravity Already by the era of Augustine (AD 354–430), Christianity had developed into what Lynn White Jr.

Devoted to Nature supplements such criticism by focusing less on what has been 20 / Introduction historically marginalized from environmental discourse than on how the hegemonic conceptual structures of American environmental discourse were constructed from the outset. The internal logic of American environmental thought is wrapped up with the cultural hegemony of mainline Protestantism, and unpacking that relationship provides a useful foundation for critical appraisal on contemporary ecological politics.

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