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Before Nature

A Christian Spirituality

by H. Paul Santmire

Publication Year: 2014

Before Nature caps a set of themes first brought to the fore in Santmire’s previous work, most notably the classic Travail of Nature. Here Santmire continues the pursuit of a theology bound up with nature and its condition, especially the fragility and fervent expectation of nature’s redemption. Out of this concern, Santmire invites readers on a theological and spiritual journey to a prayerful and contemplative knowledge of the Triune God, in which practitioners are inducted into a bountiful relationship with the cosmic and universal ministry of Christ and the Spirit uniting all of nature in a single vision of hope and anticipation. Scholarly, practical, and accessible.

Published by: Augsburg Fortress Publishers

Praise, Title Page, Copyright Page, Dedication, Quote

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Contents

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pp. xi-xii

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Prologue: A Christian Spirituality of Nature for Today’s Seekers and Their Teachers and Pastors

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pp. xiii-xxvii

Ours is an era in which “the Nones” represent a growing segment of the U. S. population. As the time of this writing, almost a fifth of all Americans say that they have no religious affiliation. By a recent count, there were more Nones than mainstream Protestants, and it appears that their numbers will continue...

Part I: Considering the Journey

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pp. 1-2

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1. Blessedly Scything with God: You Are Invited

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pp. 3-20

During the journey before us, I want to take you to many ordinary places. This story begins in a field at Hunts Corner, in rural, southwestern Maine, in the foothills of New Hampshire’s White Mountains. For me, this is a place of knowing. I invite you to join me in that field...

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2. Introducing a Way of Prayer: The Practice and the Knowing of the Trinity Prayer

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pp. 32-36

St. Francis, that great medieval lover of nature, attended Mass every day throughout much of his life. Dorothy Day, that great American witness to peace, nonviolence, and justice for the poor, did the same. As we continue to consider the journey before us, I will not ask you to emulate such saintly...

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3. The World in Which We Pray: The Eclipse of God and a Fragile Theology of Faith

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pp. 37-50

Of course, practicing the Trinity Prayer is not enough in itself. Spiritual practices must be suffused with spiritual knowing if our spirituality is to be for real. Once the tyranny of the cognitive mind has been overcome, what is to become of the deeper mind and the thirsting heart? This question returns us to a...

Part II: The First Steps of the Journey

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pp. 51-52

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4. Praying to Jesus: The Revelation of God and the Light of Christ

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pp. 53-70

As I begin now to explore some of the meanings within the Trinity Prayer, and with the first petition in particular—Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me—I invite you to return with me to a setting we visited in the previous chapter: walking along the Charles River. By now, you may have noticed that I love that river...

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5. The Ambiguous Case of One Who Prays to Jesus: The Twilight and the Encounter

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pp. 71-94

Am I ready to do that? Am I ready to live “between the times,” between the particular experience of Mary Magdalene and the universal faith of the Apocalypse—on the one hand entering into communion with the crucified and risen Lord, while on the other hand standing ready to lay down my own life at...

Part III: Contemplating the Triune God

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pp. 95-96

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6. The Heart of the Trinity Prayer: Contemplating the Mystery of the Triune God

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pp. 97-128

Under the rubric of full disclosure, I want to issue this warning here, in the midst of my narrative. I’m about to take you into the central mystery of this fragile faith: engagement with God as Trinity. Stand ready, therefore, to take a quite different turn in our journey, into a spiritual territory where there are...

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7. The Presence of the Triune God in Nature: Contemplating God in All Things

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pp. 129-156

I now propose to walk with you around this spiritual summit in order to contemplate what we can see of the mysterious presence and the majestic works of the triune God unfolding in every direction. In other words, continue to praise Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, invoking the words of the Trinity Prayer...

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8. The Works of the Triune God in Nature: Contemplating the Cosmic Ministries of Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit

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pp. 157-184

During the thirteen years when I was a college teacher and chaplain, pious Christian students on occasion would ask me: “Is Jesus Christ your personal savior?” Sometimes they would also ask: “Have you been baptized by the Spirit?” In an attempt to explore with these students their own spiritual...

Part IV: Calling on the Holy Spirit

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pp. 185-186

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9. Calling on the Holy Spirit: The Integrity and the Travail of Nature

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pp. 187-216

In the words of the popular gospel song, we’ve come this far by faith. In part 1, we considered the journey before us as well as what it can mean to scythe with God, to practice the Trinity Prayer, and to face the eclipse of God with a fragile faith. In part 2, I invited you to ponder with me the meanings of this...

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10. Sauntering in the Spirit: Practicing the Trinity Prayer

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pp. 217-238

Thoreau once asserted that the word saunter comes from the French sainte terre, referring to a medieval pilgrimage to the Holy Land.1 In making this observation, Thoreau was thinking of two things—first, what might be called a kind of pilgrimage or a mindful walking in wild nature as a world of deep...

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Epilogue: The Trinity Prayer as Spiritual Exercise

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pp. 239-244

In the preceding pages, I have regularly recommended doing your spiritual exercise—in this case by invoking the Trinity Prayer—as often as you can. Let me recapitulate here. When Jesus says, in the Sermon on the Mount, “Ask, and it will be given you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will...

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Appendix: Possible Seasonal Hymn Tunes for the Trinity Prayer

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p. 245-245

The following is a list of the hymn tunes that I have used at different times in order to sing the Trinity Prayer boldly. I apologize in advance for the parochial character of this list. These are melodies that happen to be familiar to me. This means that, by definition, they are only a small slice of available options, and...

Notes

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pp. 246-

Index, Back Cover

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pp. 247-


E-ISBN-13: 9781451484311
E-ISBN-10: 1451484313
Print-ISBN-13: 9781451473001
Print-ISBN-10: 1451473001

Page Count: 272
Publication Year: 2014