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Backpacking with the Saints


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Table of Contents

Table of Contents Prologue Part I: The Power of Wilderness and the Reading of Dangerous Texts Chapter 1: The Allure of the Wild: Backpacking as Spiritual Practice Chapter 2: The Risk-Taking Character of Wilderness Reading Part II: The Pattern of Wilderness Spirituality First Leg: Departure (Leaving the Trailhead) Chapter 3: Venturing Out: The Irish Wilderness and Columba of Iona Chapter 4: Disillusionment: Laramie Peak and Therese of Lisieux Chapter 5: Desire: Rockpile Mountain Wilderness and Thomas Traherne Second Leg: Discipline (The Practice of the Wild) Chapter 6: Solitude: Bell Mountain Wilderness and Soren Kierkegaard Chapter 7: Traveling Light: Gunstock Hollow and Dag Hammarskjoeld Chapter 8: Mindfulness: Moonshine Hollow and Thich Nhat Hanh Third Leg: Descent (When the Trail Gets Rough) Chapter 9: Fear: The Maze in Canyonlands and John of the Cross Chapter 10: Failure: Mount Whitney and Martin Luther Chapter 11: Dying: Mudlick Mountain Trail and the Cloud Author Fourth Leg: Delight (Returning Home with Gifts) Chapter 12: Discernment: Taum Sauk Mountain and Jelaluddin Rumi Chapter 13: Community: Lower Rock Creek and Teilhard de Chardin Chapter 14: Justice: The Meramec River at Times Beach and Mohandas Gandhi Chapter 15: Holy Folly: Aravaipa Canyon and Thomas Merton Epilogue Appendix: The Meanings of Wilderness Notes Index

About the Author

Belden C. Lane is Professor of Theological Studies, American Religion, and History of Spirituality at Saint Louis University. He is the author of The Solace of Fierce Landscapes: Exploring Desert and Mountain Spirituality and Ravished by Beauty: The Surprising Legacy of Reformed Spirituality.


"This is a wise and helpful book, probably best read by reconnoitering the terrain quickly, then lingering over sections that seem inviting. The real point, though, is to engage in the contemplative practice that Lane models so well. If backpacking seems out of the question, adopting the practice of spending time in quiet contemplation of nature while reading the book offers a less intense alternative that can still offer rich rewards."--Interpretation: A Journal of Bible and Theology "Belden C. Lane has written a lovely book that seamlessly brings together two rich genres: travel narrative and spiritual memoir. The notion of a spiritual journey, of course, is central to almost every religious tradition, but the author enlivens that tradition as he shares personal and heartfelt stories about his own peregrinations and muses on topics as varied as solitude, ecology, backpacking, beauty, and prayer; and on people as varied as St. Therese of Lisieux, Dag Hammarskjoeld, John Muir, and Bruce Springsteen. A thoroughly delightful book." --James Martin, SJ, author of Jesus: A Pilgrimage "If the earlier centuries of Christianity had been as honest, emotionally descriptive, and spiritually helpful as Belden Lane is here, we would have a very different notion of religion today. Such wisdom as this will literally 'save the soul' of many a spiritual seeker." --Fr. Richard Rohr, O.F.M., Founder, Center for Action and Contemplation, Albuquerque, New Mexico "The only problem with this remarkable book is that it cannot be read rightly from a comfortable chair. As Lane and the rest of the saints in these pages insist, what the soul most needs is not found in safe places but in wild ones, where the dangers are as real as the courage they call forth. So find a high rock, a far hill, or a patch of desert that scares you a little and let this book persuade you that you are exactly where you need to be." --Barbara Brown Taylor, author of Learning to Walk in the Dark "The carefully balanced writing about landscape, physical demands, spiritual awakening and literary companionship allows the reader to see, feel, and join in the meditation." --Booklist "Lane's work blends genres, combining the literature of the outdoors with the formal literature of the spiritual as he reviews the work of the world's prominent religious and spiritual writers and ties their insights to the features and experiences of exploring the natural world." --Publishers Weekly

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