I am reading Joseph Campbell’s The Power of Myth. I cannot say I agree with (or even like) all of it, but he did suggest something I did like and I decided to write about it. He suggested that all land can be made holy by human beings claiming it. I thought about it and I decided that actually, all land is holy whether human beings claim it or not. Of course, the Ganges is holy to Hindus and the mountains of Yellowstone was holy to the Lakota Sioux tribe. Jews believe wherever Mt. Sinai is, it is holy, too. Yet I believe that all of Nature makes up God’s mirror, and that God also exists within that mirror. John Muir was the founder of Yosemite with its gorgeous redwoods (the grant was given to him by Theodore Roosevelt) and he called them “God’s Cathedrals.”
I do not believe a person has to move outside of the traditional religions to have this feeling, to go to the Rocky Mountains or the Ozark Mountains and experience God for themself. If St. Francis spoke of “Brother Sun” and the Baal Shem Tov spoke of the Lord’s Mountains, then there is no reason to adjust their theology beyond recognition to experience what they believed in the forests or the deserts either. Maimonides spoke of the necessity of being kind to animals–because they could feel–as much as St. Francis supposedly tamed a man-eating wolf so that it became beloved of the people who it once terrified. This was so much so that they mourned its’ death.
There is a Christian pastor, Robert Morgan, whose Gap Creek and The Truest Pleasure I read. He is surprisingly critical of faith and his believe in Nature borrows some from the transcendentalists, who may be understood as believing that though sacred was indifferent to us. For all that I want to see the Living God in the Great Plains, I still ponder the name of one of his books: The Mountains Won’t Remember Us When We’re Gone. Will they? I have often wanted to read the book but not had time.
I remember studying Leibnitz in that time when I was going to be a philosophy. Leibnitz had some counter-intuitive views about theology (he was lampooned by Voltaire in Candide), yet he did discover Calculus independently of Newton and his physics did influence Albert Einstein. Why? Because he believed rather than the atoms that make up this universe being dead they were “alive”: particles of matter or dust were also particles of energy. As it turned out, this insight–which Newton rejected–was prescient and influenced of Einstein. Is it possible, knowing this, that all of the Universe lives in terms of having a soul, and that each naturally existing thing does have a soul. That the rock and the grass and the wolves all have souls? I believe so, but I do not know if my logic holds.
Either way I believe the grasses and sand dunes and other natural places are Holy. They are so whether we appreciate them or no. The cities we build are both tombs and holy places: tombs because we took the land from Nature and holy places because no place ever ceases to be a part of God’s earth. I am not saying that human beings should not have cities to live in–there are too many of us for us to live in a state of Nature–only that we should honor the earth as we honor God.