Before Nature: A Christian Spirituality by H. Paul Santmire

By H. Paul Santmire

Earlier than Nature caps a collection of subject matters first delivered to the fore in Santmire’s prior paintings, such a lot significantly the vintage The Travail of Nature. the following Santmire maintains the pursuit of a theology certain up with nature and its , in particular the fragility and fervent expectation of nature’s redemption. Santmire invitations readers on a theological and non secular trip to a prayerful and contemplative wisdom of the Triune God, during which practitioners are inducted right into a bountiful dating with the cosmic and common ministry of Christ and the Spirit uniting all of nature in one imaginative and prescient of desire and anticipation.

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SPIRITUALITY “Spirituality” is a different kind of construct. Unlike “nature,” the word itself does not have explicit, centuries-old layers of meaning, although spiritual practices, such as praying in solitude or in small groups, and reflections about those practices have of course been common in Christianity as well as in other religions in all eras. While the word spirituality has deep and ancient roots, in other words, it has become a widely used term mainly in our own era. 15 I propose a relatively simple definition of the term, mainly to allow us to get under way in these explorations and to not have to take a long terminological detour at the outset.

When I lift and push wheelbarrows of green manure from the pipeline toward our gardens to be composted or when I spread the cow manure or scatter the green sand, and thereafter, in due course, when I kneel down on the earth to weed the vegetable seedlings, I am lifting and pushing and spreading and scattering and weeding in prayer—because “the earth is the Lord’s and the fulness thereof” (Psalm 24:1) and the Lord is there, I believe, in, with, and under every furrow of the soil and every glorious green shoot, both the seedlings and the weeds.

10 | Before Nature A BAPTISMAL MYSTICISM Baptism was a major event in churches like the one in which I was splashed, in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost, in 1935. It was celebrated robustly, both in the life of the infant’s family and in the life of the congregation of which that family was a member. This was not just for ceremonial reasons. Whether or not they could readily find the words to say it, the members of such congregations knew in their bones that a baptism was much more than a name giving or the mere celebration of the birth of a healthy child or a way of doting on the cuteness of a baby.

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