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The Great Conversation – Nature and the Care of the Soul - Oxford Scholarship Online
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The Great Conversation: Nature and the Care of the Soul

Belden C. Lane


Thomas Berry lamented that humans have dropped out of the Great Conversation with the rest of the natural world. We’ve objectified a world of things—imagining they exist solely for human use. If nature speaks, we are no longer listening. Yet the saints of the great spiritual traditions have long perceived trees, islands, rivers, and canyons as teachers, mirroring the inner world of the soul. Hildegard of Bingen attended to the greening power of trees. Ignatius Loyola was shaped by a cave experience. The Baal Shem Tov spoke the languages of birds, plants, and clouds. Focusing on a cottonwood tr ... More

Keywords: nature, spirituality, cross-species communication, saints, wilderness backpacking, environmental destruction, archetypes

Bibliographic Information

Print publication date: 2019 Print ISBN-13: 9780190842673
Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: April 2019 DOI:10.1093/oso/9780190842673.001.0001


Affiliations are at time of print publication.

Belden C. Lane, author
Professor Emeritus of Theological Studies, American Religion, and History of Spirituality, Saint Louis University