Since the passage of the Wilderness Act of 1964, a hotly contested debate over the value of wilderness reveals cultural anxieties about an American society that has spurned limits. Gratitude for the Wild explores how the wild known in wilderness raises our tolerance for mystery in the recognition of our limits and in the celebration of a God-loved world that exceeds our grasping. The idea of wilderness introduces questions about the balance between utility and appreciation, and between enjoyment and restraint. Wilderness is a nexus of competing and contested accounts of responsibility. In conversation with the work of Doug Peacock, Terry Tempest Williams, James Gustafson, and Martin Luther King Jr., Nathaniel Van Yperen offers an original argument for how wilderness can evoke a vision of a good life in which creaturely limits are accepted in gratitude, even in the face of ambiguity and mystery. Through the theme of gratitude, the book refocuses attention on the role of affection and testimony in ecological ethics and Christian ethics.
Chapter 1. Speaking for Wilderness
Chapter 2. Wilderness: A Sensuous Wild
Chapter 3. Wildness Elicits Piety
Chapter 4. The Fierce Urgency of Now
Conclusion: Gratitude for the Wild
About the Author
Nathaniel Van Yperen is visiting assistant professor of religion at Gustavus Adolphus College.
"Nathaniel Van Yperen offers us a beautifully conceived and eloquently written account of the spiritual importance of wilderness – its propensity to teach us about the nature of things: its potential to realign our most important loyalties and loves; and its overwhelming power to place us in proximity to the very mystery of our being. Van Yperen moves nimbly within the classical canon of environmental and wilderness ethics (e.g. Thoreau, Muir, Aldo Leopold, Rachel Carson, Annie Dillard, Wendell Berry, etc.) providing the reader a matchless introduction to a topic of vital importance to our common future. This is a work of great depth and maturity It deserves a wide audience."
– William Stacy Johnson, Arthur M. Adams Professor of Theology, Princeton Theological Seminary
"Written from a widely-read heart, this elegant book integrates Christian tradition (and its critics) with the wilderness tradition (and its critics) to make a generous, self-aware moral argument for wilderness."
– Willis Jenkins, University of Virginia