Christianity, Wilderness, and Wildlife: The Original Desert Solitaire

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Unlike the many volumes that assume Christianity has been indifferent or detrimental to the environment, Christianity, Wilderness, and Wildlife reviews the long history of Christian wilderness spirituality and beneficial Christian interactions with wild nature. Beginning with the relevant Genesis texts, the volume documents the importance of wilderness as a location for spiritual events, including theophanies, and suggests that wilderness has traditionally been the landscape where the divine may be most clearly ...
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Overview

Unlike the many volumes that assume Christianity has been indifferent or detrimental to the environment, Christianity, Wilderness, and Wildlife reviews the long history of Christian wilderness spirituality and beneficial Christian interactions with wild nature. Beginning with the relevant Genesis texts, the volume documents the importance of wilderness as a location for spiritual events, including theophanies, and suggests that wilderness has traditionally been the landscape where the divine may be most clearly discerned and directly encountered. Comparing several different Old Testament models of wilderness experience, the first chapters investigate such diverse incidents as Hagar's meeting with the angel at the desert spring, Moses and the elders of Israel viewing God through the sapphire floor, Jonathan and his armor bearer climbing the rocks to rout the Philistine garrison, and Elijah fleeing to a cave at Horeb. Wilderness encounters with the divine are associated with visionary experience, extraordinary providence and mercy, personal stress, spiritual transition, divine calling and the development of leadership qualities, freedom from antagonistic or ungodly cultural forces, and the development of a deeper understanding of the person of God. Additional wilderness motifs appear in the New Testament, such as the use of isolated places for both rest from the struggles of ministry and for battle with the demonic. Throughout the Bible, the natural environment is portrayed, not as a mere stage for spiritual events, but as responsive to God's will - a participant in the covenants and in holy history. This volume reviews the attitudes of the desert fathers, the Celtic monastics, and the Franciscans toward the sites they selected for spiritual exercise and for their monasteries. The writings of the monks document not only their love for wilderness, but their great care for the wild animals who sometimes joined them in their cells. The Celtic saints' lives, in parti
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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Bratton (ecology, Univ. of Georgia) recounts stories from the book of Genesis to the Reformation movement of beneficent encounters with the wilderness or with wild animals in Christian tradition. She finds that important events frequently occur in the wilderness and that biblical writers believed that wild nature ``informed humankind about the person of God, a Creator who takes a joy in all creation.'' After analyzing the traditional stories, Bratton addresses the questions of when, where, and how contemporary Christians should seek wilderness for divine encounter. Recommended especially for seminary and church libraries and for large academic and public libraries as well.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780940866140
  • Publisher: University of Scranton Press
  • Publication date: 4/28/2005
  • Pages: 350
  • Product dimensions: 6.46 (w) x 9.58 (h) x 1.03 (d)

Meet the Author

Susan Power Bratton has worked actively in environmental and wilderness protection for over twenty years.  She was Associate Professsor of Philosophy and Religion at the University of North Texas when Christianity, Wilderness, and Wildlife, where she worked in the Environmental Ethics program.  She is presently Chair of the Environmental Studies program at Baylor University.

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Table of Contents

Abbreviations for Translations of the Scriptures 9
Acknowledgments 11
1 Introduction 15
2 She Went and Wandered in the Wilderness (Genesis) 27
3 The Water Became Sweet (The Exodus) 38
4 The Paw of the Bear, the Paw of the Lion (David and Jonathan) 60
5 The Mountain Haunts of the Leopards (Writings) 75
6 Fed by Ravens (The Former Prophets, Elijah and Jonah) 94
7 Jackals in Her Palaces (Later Prophets) 107
8 And He Withdrew to an Isolated Place (Intertestamental Times, Christ, and John the Baptist) 125
9 The Desert Road (Acts and Revelation) 149
10 The Original Desert Solitaire (Desert Monasticism) 157
11 Oaks, Wolves, and Love (Celtic Monasticism) 182
12 A Cave outside the City (St. Francis) 217
13 The Limits of Western Wilderness (The Reformation) 230
14 Spiritual Journeys - On- and Off-Trail (Contemporary Questions) 240
15 Mountain Crests, Desert Canyons (Contemporary Questions) 257
16 The Wild and the Kingdom (Protecting the Wild) 278
Notes 315
Bibliography 331
Index 337
Biblical Citations 347
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