Wild Christianity and the future of the West
I hope you will have room in your book for St Wite (Vida, Candida) and her wild-blown Dorset cliff top hermitage.
Love the First Things essay, and you're absolutely right about "Wild Christianity." The lives of those old British saints - see Sabine Baring-Gould's eight volumes of hagiography -- are a great place to start, ditto the old Anglo-Saxon and early English prayers and religious poetry as collected in various anthologies and the "Orthodox England" site. Deeper links with the natural world and created order may smack to some of paganism, but it doesn't have to be, at all. See also "The Northern Thebiad," the lives of saints in the great forests of Northern Russia, and those legends about various saints befriending bears and wolves. Anyways, great essays/thoughts.
Really interesting.. thank you! I would only like to add that, for me, 'going back' to Wild Christianity does not mean literally adopting the practice of the past, linked as they were with a different consciousness( group, tribal), but rather honouring them, remembering them and being inspired by them. From this inspiration we can work again with spirit and matter, soul and soil, in a way appropriate for the consciousness of our times (of individuals consciously striving for community).
By doing this we might find that there is an unbroken evolutionary thread from the earliest indigenous cultures of time right up to today, encompassing all true esoteric earth-based spiritualities. Discovering this, remembering this, is for me a deep source of hope and nourishment in these uncertain times; a move to a sense of co-creative community with nature, each other and the spiritual world...
Thank you, Paul. This essay makes it perfectly clear why technology has become our culture's God. A false one, of course.
NB this world view has been inspired to a large extent by the work of Rudolf Steiner, whose embrace of all true esoteric earth-based spiritualities, is extremely wide, tolerant and very future oriented.
Hi Paul- happy new year, I hope you’re well
do you think it’s possible to arrive at the same moral and philosophical conclusions about the crisis of our Machine age, in terms of it being the “spiritual” crisis you regularly describe…without primarily conceptualizing ways forward (or back, to whatever degree) only in a traditionally Christian theistic framework?
My question here is if you think one can arrive at the conclusions that you’ve arrived at, IE with a functionally comparable understanding of our macro-predicament…but without “Christendom“ explicitly? are all of your previous Buddhist world views now irrelevant in this context/ not up the task at hand? (*not being facetious here, just wondering how philosophically pluralistic this whole project can actually be in your eyes) + hopefully you understand what I’m getting at here + forgive me, if this is a little too broad/ vague…thanks ! /T
I have long been a fan of Thomas Merton, whatever contradictions there may be in some of his work. I also notice that he has quietly disappeared from recent spiritual discourse. But that man sure could write, and had some important things to say that overlap with you. This piece reminds me of you.
Mother Tree, sentinel and navel in our hundred acre wood, beckons. She is nature "raw in tooth and claw". I sit. I sit. I sit with her gnarly trunk pushing at my back and the northern winds slapping cold in my face. Deep snow is both lap and altar. She cackles and coos. The promise of spring is fickle in the uncertain wet icy weather of February. This "cave christian heart", too often rent asunder by the domestic comforts and feral assaults of modernity is, like her, wild. I re-member. I remember.
I think you are spot on.
Looking forward to that book!
In the meantime, any book about a saint you would recommend? Is 'The Gurus, the Young Man, and Elder Paisios' good?
Me lord! My dear Paul Kingsnorth; at once you are speeching my words?! And what a beatifull symbiose you make with these two words: wild Christianity!
I’m so much inspired in the area where a I have our Agro ecological grain fields restored, because we have our ancient burial hills and Celtic fields still in our forested landscape, the Veluwezoom in the Netherlands, 6500 years ago grains entered here,
The Roman’s never came so far, just some expeditions, my ancestors managed to keep them down the hill, down the river The Rine. The so called Limes frontier they never crossed.
I have problems by the knowing’s that the Vatican is nothing more or less then a continuing of the Roman Empire, and they took Christianity (Catholicism) as the new religion to bind an threat people, to fear people in coalition with kings and feodal rulers like courts; dukes, knights and and hertog’s. Not to forget the inquisition.
I experience Protestantism as a way to turn our societies back to freedom and a real sense of God and Christianity, but somehow i‘’ve never felt myself attracted to Protestantism. I respect them very much, as I respect real Catholics like my French girl friend and her family and village.
But I’ve always been inspired much more by the spiritual religious ancient times, although there are of course no written records from that time. Intuitively I try to hear the voices and spirits of my ancestors in my area; sometimes I hear whispers; mostly it is something energetic that comes to me and praises me to work and live in the right direction: working not against but with nature.
Would be great to meet you once in my area
The 'wild saints' is a brilliant idea but you should keep in mind that your readers would need to be able to apply their lessons in the realm of The Machine.
Church of the Wild? https://www.victorialoorz.com/
What you wrote and these comments remind me of a great poem
“We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.“
Thanks Paul for your sharing of your birthday retreat and memories of some of the Saints. Because it is easier to loose ourselves or sell ourselves these days, Nature and its' honesty in being is certainly a valuable reference for us all. There is an inescapable quality in the wild which can relatively quickly bring us back to our essence. This essence of oneness is spirituality which later became religion. Nature has not disowned itself and is in our veins, yet it is easy to be tempted and harder to say no. As the seams of the world come apart there is nowhere to hide, yet we can still find the timeless cave within us, where all the saints have lived before us.