The Solace of Fierce Landscapes

Exploring Desert and Mountain Spirituality

The Solace of Fierce Landscapes

In the tradition of Kathleen Norris, Terry Tempest Williams, and Thomas Merton, The Solace of Fierce Landscapes explores the impulse that has drawn seekers into the wilderness for centuries and offers eloquent testimony to the healing power of mountain silence and desert indifference. Interweaving a memoir of his mother's long struggle with Alzheimer's and cancer, meditations on his own wilderness experience, and illuminating commentary on the Christian via negativa--a mystical tradition that seeks God in the silence beyond language--Lane rejects the easy affirmations of pop spirituality for the harsher but more profound truths that wilderness can teach us. "There is an unaccountable solace that fierce landscapes offer to the soul. They heal, as well as mirror, the brokeness we find within." It is this apparent paradox that lies at the heart of this remarkable book: that inhuman landscapes should be the source of spiritual comfort. Lane shows that the very indifference of the wilderness can release us from the demands of the endlessly anxious ego, teach us to ignore the inessential in our own lives, and enable us to transcend the "false self" that is ever-obsessed with managing impressions. Drawing upon the wisdom of St. John of the Cross, Meister Eckhardt, Simone Weil, Edward Abbey, and many other Christian and non-Christian writers, Lane also demonstrates how those of us cut off from the wilderness might "make some desert" in our lives. Written with vivid intelligence, narrative ease, and a gracefulness that is itself a comfort, The Solace of Fierce Landscapes gives us not only a description but a "performance" of an ancient and increasingly relevant spiritual tradition.

Landscapes of the Sacred

Geography and Narrative in American Spirituality

Landscapes of the Sacred

This substantially expanded edition of Belden C. Lane's Landscapes of the Sacred includes a new introductory chapter that offers three new interpretive models for understanding American sacred space. Lane maintains his approach of interspersing shorter and more personal pieces among full-length essays that explore how Native American, early French and Spanish, Puritan New England, and Catholic Worker traditions has each expressed the connection between spirituality and place.A new section at the end of the book includes three chapters that address methodological issues in the study of spirituality, the symbol-making process of religious experience, and the tension between place and placelessness in Christian spirituality.

The Folly of Prayer

Practicing the Presence and Absence of God

The Folly of Prayer

Prayer can feel mysteriously difficult, boringly perfunctory and frustratingly out of our control. Often prayer brings us comfort, but sometimes, especially when there aren t easy resolutions or prayers go unanswered, it intensifies and focuses our sense of longing, pain and care. And often God uses our times of darkness and desperation to awaken our hearts to the ache within us--and the cries of those suffering around us. Prayer is all about coming before God to face life head-on, with all its jagged edges of mystery, joy, longing and agony. In fact, says pastor Matt Woodley, prayer is actually a real encounter with the untamable God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, and therefore our experience of it should reflect the power, mystery and even risk of entering into relationship with the Lord of the universe. In this book Woodley strips away all the religious-speak and presuppositions we have about prayer, distilling it to the essence of wholehearted engagement with the living God. Exploring an earthy, unadorned, jargon-free approach to prayer, Woodley unpacks a host of fresh synonyms for God-encounters, including prayer as desperation, invocation, mystery, astonishment, groaning and even absence. These marginal ways of praying compel us to engage marginal people--the desperate, the groaning, the victimized and the ignored. As we pray God will open our eyes to the pain of the world around us. With stories from his own experience and biblical and historical examples, Woodley gives fresh language to describe a life grounded in prayer that leads to compassion and service.

Desert Spirituality and Cultural Resistance

From Ancient Monks to Mountain Refugees

Desert Spirituality and Cultural Resistance

The wholeness of the life we seek is one that we are seldom able to envision in advance. It takes a shape that only the desert knows. Desert Spirituality and Cultural Resistance: From Ancient Monks to Mountain Refugees is a passionate exploration of the theme of wilderness in the spiritual life. These three lectures by accomplished storyteller and theologian Belden Lane are inspirational in a way that lectures rarely are. Lane urges us to think courageously about the place of wilderness in Christian life. He contemplates the radical lives of the fourth-century Desert Fathers and Mothers, as well as the courageous example of sixteenth-century Anabaptists. He speaks of the ways in which wilderness can relate to the practice of a counter-cultural spirituality today, and he asks: Can desert and mountain gift us with a language to understand the experiences in our lives when we are taken to the edge, finding ourselves isolated and alone, both spiritually and culturally? The wilderness is a place of suffering, out on the edge. It is a place of letting go, a place for dying, and yet also a place for coming alive. The desert is where things fall apart and where things may come together for us in an unanticipated way.

Becoming Bridges

The Spirit and Practice of Diversity

Becoming Bridges

Pastor of a bilingual, multicultural church for more than a decade, Gary Commins knows that “diversity” is a spiritual exercise that can be as charged with anxiety as it is laced with hope. In Becoming Bridges, Commins lays the groundwork for diversity as an intrinsic part of the life of faith and calls us to become “bridge people”: people who are willing to traverse gaps of ignorance and bridge the things that separate us—religion, race, culture, class, gender, and sexual orientation.

Desert Meteorology

Desert Meteorology

Aridity prevails over more than one third of the land area of the Earth and over a significant fraction of the oceans as well. Yet to date there has been no comprehensive reference volume or textbook dealing with the weather processes that define the character of desert areas. Desert Meteorology fills this gap by treating all aspects of desert weather, such as large-scale and local-scale causes of aridity; precipitation characteristics in deserts; dust storms; floods; climate change in deserts; precipitation processes; desertification; land-surface physics of deserts; numerical modelling of desert atmospheres; and the effect of desert weather on humans. A summary is provided of the climates and surface properties of the desert areas of the world. The book is written with the assumption that the reader has only a basic knowledge of meteorology, physics and calculus, making it useful to those in a wide range of disciplines. It includes review questions and problems for the student. This comprehensive volume will satisfy all who need to know more about the weather and climate of arid lands. It will appeal especially to advanced students and researchers in environmental science, meteorology, physical geography, hydrology and engineering.

Backpacking with the Saints

Wilderness Hiking as Spiritual Practice

Backpacking with the Saints

Carrying only basic camping equipment and a collection of the world's great spiritual writings, Belden C. Lane embarks on solitary spiritual treks through the Ozarks and across the American Southwest. For companions, he has only such teachers as Rumi, John of the Cross, Hildegard of Bingen, Dag Hammarskjöld, and Thomas Merton, and as he walks, he engages their writings with the natural wonders he encounters--Bell Mountain Wilderness with Søren Kierkegaard, Moonshine Hollow with Thich Nhat Hanh--demonstrating how being alone in the wild opens a rare view onto one's interior landscape, and how the saints' writings reveal the divine in nature. The discipline of backpacking, Lane shows, is a metaphor for a spiritual journey. Just as the wilderness offered revelations to the early Desert Christians, backpacking hones crucial spiritual skills: paying attention, traveling light, practicing silence, and exercising wonder. Lane engages the practice not only with a wide range of spiritual writings--Celtic, Catholic, Protestant, Buddhist, Hindu, and Sufi Muslim--but with the fascination of other lovers of the backcountry, from John Muir and Ed Abbey to Bill Plotkin and Cheryl Strayed. In this intimate and down-to-earth narrative, backpacking is shown to be a spiritual practice that allows the discovery of God amidst the beauty and unexpected terrors of nature. Adoration, Lane suggests, is the most appropriate human response to what we cannot explain, but have nonetheless learned to love. An enchanting narrative for Christians of all denominations, Backpacking with the Saints is an inspiring exploration of how solitude, simplicity, and mindfulness are illuminated and encouraged by the discipline of backcountry wandering, and of how the wilderness itself becomes a way of knowing-an ecology of the soul.

Garden of the Soul

Exploring Metaphorical Landscapes of Spirituality

Garden of the Soul

The stories of Jesus, placed in the context of the familiar and factual, are filled with metaphors that audiences can understand and appreciate. Metaphors not only inform and persuade, but also fire up readers' imaginations and get them involved as participants. Humans are primed to think and feel metaphorically, and so Garden of the Soul aims to metaphorically explore five landscapes that feature prominently in the Bible. Each metaphorical landscape throws light on an aspect of spiritual life. The bountiful garden speaks of growth, the flowing river calls for unceasing prayer, the raging sea mirrors the turbulence of a journey of faith, the barren desert transforms by emptying life's clutter, and the high mountain challenges readers to scale its peak to glimpse a transcendent vision of God. This book will inform, enrich, and challenge readers' spiritual lives throughout their journey from garden to mountain.

Mapping Medieval Geographies

Geographical Encounters in the Latin West and Beyond, 300–1600

Mapping Medieval Geographies

Mapping Medieval Geographies explores the ways in which geographical knowledge, ideas and traditions were formed in Europe during the Middle Ages. Leading scholars reveal the connections between Islamic, Christian, Biblical and Classical geographical traditions from Antiquity to the later Middle Ages and Renaissance. The book is divided into two parts: Part I focuses on the notion of geographical tradition and charts the evolution of celestial and earthly geography in terms of its intellectual, visual and textual representations; whilst Part II explores geographical imaginations; that is to say, those 'imagined geographies' that came into being as a result of everyday spatial and spiritual experience. Bringing together approaches from art, literary studies, intellectual history and historical geography, this pioneering volume will be essential reading for scholars concerned with visual and textual modes of geographical representation and transmission, as well as the spaces and places of knowledge creation and consumption.

Good Faith Hunting

How Baby Boomers Help Recapture a Biblical View of Faith

Good Faith Hunting

Church attendance in the United States and other Western nations is rapidly declining, and the losses are not solely because young people don't like church. Baby boomers are also leaving, frequently because the church leadership assumes a believer's faith and how it plays out is constant over a lifetime. Boomers are a transition generation, undergoing profound faith journeys as they transition through life's phases. Many churches struggle to connect with people on a journey because the corporate, modernist mindset doesn't have room for changes and journey. Good Faith Hunting is a book of hope for church leaders and major influencers who want to celebrate the faith journeys of baby boomers and others through life, allegiance, and experience, as an opportunity to show the love of Christ as they sojourn alongside people in their community.