The Great Conversation: Nature and the Care of the Soul

ISBN : 9780190842673

Belden C. Lane
344 ページ
156 x 235 mm

"We are surrounded by a world that talks, but we don't listen. We are part of a community engaged in a vast conversation, but we deny our role in it." In the face of climate change, species loss, and vast environmental destruction, the ability to stand in the flow of the great conversation of all creatures and the earth can feel utterly lost to the human race. But Belden C. Lane suggests that it can and must be recovered, not only for the sake of endangered species and the well-being of at-risk communities, but for the survival of the world itself. The Great Conversation is Lane's multi-faceted treatise on a spiritually centered environmentalism. At the core is a belief in the power of the natural world to act as teacher. In a series of personal anecdotes, Lane pairs his own experiences in the wild with the writings of saints and sages from a wide range of religious traditions. A night in a Missourian cave brings to mind the Spiritual Exercises of Ignatius of Loyola; the canyons of southern Utah elicit a response from the Chinese philosopher Laozi; 500,000 migrating sandhill cranes rest in Nebraska and evoke the Sufi poet Farid ud-Din Attar. With each chapter, the humility of spiritual masters through the ages melds with the author's encounters with natural teachers to offer guidance for entering once more into a conversation with the world.


Introduction: Wilderness and Soul Work
Part I: Beginning to Listen
Chapter 1: Restoring the Great Conversation
Chapter 2: Falling in Love with a Tree
Part II: Nature Teachers and the Spiritual Life
AIR: The Child
Chapter 3. Birds: Sandhill Cranes, the Platte River, and Farid ud-Din Attar
Chapter 4. Wind: Buford Mountain and The Way of a Pilgrim
Chapter 5: Trees: A Cottonwood Tree in a City Park and Hildegard of Bingen
FIRE: The Adolescent
Chapter 6. Wildfire: North Laramie River Trail and Catherine of Siena
Chapter 7. Stars: Cahokia Mounds and Origen of Alexandria
Chapter 8. Deserts: The Western Australian Bush and Gregory of Nyssa
WATER: The Adult
Chapter 9. Rivers: Colorado's Lost Creek Wilderness and Teresa of Avila
Chapter 10. Canyons: Grand Staircase-Escalante Wilderness and Laozi
Chapter 11. Islands: Monhegan Island and Nikos Kazantzakis
EARTH: The Elder
Chapter 12. Mountains: Hemmed-In-Hollow and the Baal Shem Tov
Chapter 13. Caves: Lewis Cave and Ignatius of Loyola
Chapter 14. Wolves: Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem and Francis of Assisi
Conclusion: Taking the Great Conversation Seriously
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Belden C. Lane is Professor Emeritus of Theological Studies, American Religion, and History of Spirituality at Saint Louis University. He is the author of Backpacking with the Saints: Wilderness Hiking as Spiritual Practice, The Solace of Fierce Landscapes: Exploring Desert and Mountain Spirituality, and Ravished by Beauty: The Surprising Legacy of Reformed Spirituality.