Book reviews

My own book, Before Nature:  A Christian Spirituality, is about – nature.  But not just nature.  It’s also a narrative of my own struggle to believe.  In Before Nature, I regularly refer to “the fragile faith” that I’m recommending.  For me, nothing’s certain in the world of faith.  I point to Martin Luther’s image of the believer as one who, while blindfolded, takes the hand of a guide, in order to cross a high and narrow bridge. In this respect, I have lately found a soul-mate in Christian Wiman, as he gives an account of his own fragile faith in his scintillating and sometimes painfully narrated testament, My Bright Abyss:  Meditations of a Modern Believer (New York:  Farar, Straus and Giroux, 2013). The struggle to believe that I narrate in Before Nature, however, is the struggle of a “once born soul” (William James).  Hard pressed by what I understand toRead More →

Endorsements for Before Nature: A Christian Spirituality: “Throughout my review, I have described Santmire’s approach as inviting, and I think that is one of the main strengths of the book. As I read the text, I felt drawn into the narrative that Santmire was putting forward, based on his own experiences. In this way, I agree with his assertion that the book is a “confessional expression of a particular constellation of experiences. It is not a scholarly study of spirituality” (xxiii). Santmire avoids two potential pitfalls that I could see in engaging this topic. First, he does not “universalize” his own experience by arguing what people should do; rather, in a memoir-like narrative, he describes his Christian spirituality of nature centered on his use of the Trinity Prayer, and then describes how that relates to his theology of nature. Second, his tone throughout the book is non-judgmental and yet realistic; heRead More →