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Making Nature SacredLiterature, Religion, and the Environment in America from the Puritans to the Present$
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John Gatta

Print publication date: 2004

Print ISBN-13: 9780195165050

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2005

DOI: 10.1093/0195165055.001.0001

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“Rare and Delectable Places”

“Rare and Delectable Places”

Thoreau's Imagination of Sacred Space at Walden

(p.127) 6 “Rare and Delectable Places”
Making Nature Sacred

John Gatta (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

Walden Pond, the obvious focal point of Thoreau’s worship and spiritual discovery, qualifies thereby as a sacred place in the author’s celebrated account of “where he lived.” Thoreau’s place-centered spirituality is both active and contemplative, with the contemplative dimension vividly conveyed through his description of morning meditation in the chapter “Sounds.” Thoreau, despite his elusive and inconsistent theology, sometimes confirms belief in a personal Deity and typically envisions nature as a divine Creation. In the famous sandbank cosmogony that appears at the climax of the chapter “Spring,” Thoreau combines a numinous vision of continuous creation with an evolutionary dynamic informed by recent scientific discoveries in biology, geography, and geology. Thoreau imagined nature’s wildness, which enables us to “witness our own limits transgressed,” as wedded thereby to our sense of the sacred.

Keywords:   evolutionary, wildness, sacred, Thoreau, numinous, Walden, theology, contemplative, Creation, cosmogony

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