By Rebecca Kneale Gould
Stimulated variously through the need to reject consumerism, to dwell toward the earth, to include voluntary simplicity, or to find a extra non secular course, homesteaders have made the unconventional determination to move "back to the land," rejecting sleek tradition and facilities to dwell self-sufficiently and in concord with nature. Drawing from vibrant firsthand debts in addition to from wealthy historic fabric, this gracefully written research of homesteading in the USA from the overdue 19th century to the current examines the lives and ideology of these who've ascribed to the homesteading philosophy, putting their reports in the broader context of the altering meanings of nature and faith in smooth American culture.
Rebecca Kneale Gould investigates the lives of well-known figures comparable to Henry David Thoreau, John Burroughs, Ralph Borsodi, Wendell Berry, and Helen and Scott Nearing, and she or he offers penetrating interviews with many modern homesteaders. She additionally considers homesteading as a kind of dissent from shopper tradition, as a departure from conventional non secular lifestyles, and as a convention of environmental ethics.
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Extra info for At Home in Nature: Modern Homesteading and Spiritual Practice in America
In my own experience, the conversations that ensue in ethnographic research are vital in forming the questions one then poses when interpreting primary historical texts. In a complementary fashion, the work done in archives provides the long view of religious meaning-making that sociological and anthropological research alone cannot provide. In the field of American religion today, it is vital that some scholarly investigations bridge the traditional disciplinary boundaries of history and sociology and work back and forth between them.
But as the historical chapters of this book will reveal, such seeking is not necessarily new, nor is the turn to nature only a recent, post-environmentalmovement phenomenon. Rather, the search for a spiritual life close to nature is part of a longer American story. This study, then, is not only an examination of contemporary nature-oriented spiritual practice or of modern American forms of rebellion against the culture of consumption. It is also, significantly, an examination of these contemporary practices in light of a long history of the turn to nature as a form of spiritual regeneration and cultural dissent.
And in American history particularly, we find distinct (but also related) voices that stretch from the Calvinist visions of Cotton Mather and Jonathan Edwards to the Transcendentalism of Ralph Waldo Emerson and on to the environmental ethics of Aldo Leopold and Rachel Carson. All of these writers and thinkers share a Western cultural heritage that shapes some common approaches to the meaning of nature, but each also constructs a vision of nature out of a specific historical context and unique personal experience.