Ravished by Beauty: The Surprising Legacy of Reformed Spirituality

ISBN : 9780199755080

Belden C. Lane
328 ページ
162 x 239 mm

In this novel exploration of Reformed spirituality, Belden C. Lane uncovers a "green theology" that celebrates a community of jubilant creatures of all languages and species. Lane reveals an ecologically sensitive Calvin who spoke of himself as "ravished" by the earth's beauty. He speaks of Puritans who fostered a "lusty" spirituality in which Christ figured as a lover who encouraged meditation on the wonders of creation. He presents a Jonathan Edwards who urged a sensuous "enjoyment" of God's beauty as the only real way of knowing God. Lane argues for the "double irony" of Reformed spirituality, showing that Calvinists who often seem prudish and proper are in fact a people of passionate desire. Similarly, Reformed Christians who appear totally focused on divine transcendence turn out at times to be closet nature mystics, exulting in God's glory everywhere. Lane also demonstrates, however, that a spirituality of desire can be derailed, ending in sexual excess and pantheism. Ecologically, holy longing can be redirected from a contemplation of God's splendor in the earth's beauty to a craving for land itself, resulting in disastrous misuse of its resources. Between the major chapters of the book are engaging personal essays drawn from the author's own love of nature as a Reformed Christian, and providing a thoughtful discussion of contemporary issues of species diversity and the honoring of an earth community.


Prologue: Ring Lake Ranch, Wyoming
Chapter One: The Double Irony of Reformed Spirituality: Nature, Desire and the Easily-Diverted Quest for God's Beauty
Landscapes of Desire: The Whole World Singing: A Journey to Iona and Taize
Chapter Two: John Calvin on the World as a Theater of God's Glory
Landscapes of Desire: Can We Chant Psalms with All God's Creatures?
Chapter Three: Nature and Desire in Seventeenth-Century Puritanism
Landscapes of Desire: Open the Kingdom for a Cottonwood Tree
Chapter Four: The Schooling of Desire: Nature's Purifying Role in Affliction
Landscapes of Desire: Biodiversity and the Holy Trinity
Chapter Five: Jonathan Edwards on Beauty, Desire, and the Sensory World
Landscapes of Desire: On Pilgrimage with Jonathan Edwards
Chapter Six: Transformed by Beauty: Environmental Ethics and the Wildness of God
Epilogue: Dead Creek, East Saint Louis


Belden C. Lane is Professor of Theological Studies, American Religion, and History of Spirituality at Saint Louis University and the author of The Solace of Fierce Landscapes: Exploring Desert and Mountain Spirituality.