Burroughs Essay (part two)


The second part of my essay on naturalist and freethinker John Burroughs has been published in the Freethought Society newsletter:

The Light of Day: John Burroughs and a Freethinker’s Religion

Here’s a brief excerpt:

“Burroughs has offered us a new way to appreciate living creeds. He saw that “a love of nature has high religious value.” The following lines from Accepting the Universe offer the closest thing to a Nature Creed that I have read:

“It has made [those who love Nature] contented and at home wherever they are in nature – in the house not made with hands. This house is their church, and the rocks and the hills are the altars, and the creed is written in the leaves of the trees and in the flowers of the field and in the sands of the shore. A new creed every day and new preachers, and holy days all the week through. Every walk to the woods is a religious rite, every bath in the stream is a saving ordinance. Communion service is at all hours, and the bread and wine are from the heart and marrow of Mother Earth.
There are no heretics in Nature’s church; all are believers, all are communicants.”

This portion of one of my favorite passages in all of Burroughs’ work, Accepting the Universe, brilliantly presents what he calls “the faith of a naturalist.” As I see it, this is the only faith or creed relevant for the modern world. It may be the only sense of “spirituality” practical for a grown-up humanity and critical for our survival — our health and Nature’s. And, in truth, our health is inextricably linked to all of Nature. Here again the wisdom of the naturalist reminds us:

“We do not realize that we area part of Nature till we begin to think about it. Our lives proceed as if we were two – [Humanity] and Nature. . . but the two are one; there is only Nature.”

Here’s the link if you missed Part One

Categories: freethoughtTags: , , , , , ,

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