In this article, John Muir discusses his Christian faith, his relationship with nature, and his reading of Thoreau, Emerson, and Darwin. In addition, he offers insights on commercial exploitation of the mountains. In addition, he offers practical suggestions for how to protect the environment and be more sustainable.
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Muir’s Christian faith
In The Yosemite, John Muir crafted a theology of nature, an argument for conservation enhanced by Christian precepts. For example, his use of the capitalization of words, especially “Nature” and “Adam,” reveals his deep reverence for the sacred. Likewise, his eloquent description of the valley’s lush, green beauty evokes a biblical reference to the Tree of Life, which God planted in the Garden of Eden as a food source for Adam and Eve. The Tree of Life was not only a source of life for them, but also a source of eternal life.
Muir’s Christian faith is not atypical. His views on God are largely consistent with the Christian tradition, with some minor deviations. He believes that God has revealed himself in nature. However, he doesn’t believe that God is wrathful or enraged. Instead, he believes that God’s creation is perfect and full of God’s grace, and therefore, deserves our salvation.
His relationship with nature
In his many books about nature, adventure, and faith, John Muir often references Scripture. His religiously-zealous father taught him to memorize the Bible by rote, flogging him for making even the slightest error in a verse. As a result, he mastered two-thirds of the Old Testament by heart and the entire New Testament. His love for Scripture was so deep that he quoted the Bible throughout his life.
John Muir’s relationship with nature is a central theme of his books, and his devotion to the creation of God in nature is evident in them. While some religious writers, like Gerard Manley Hopkins, emphasize the importance of God behind the creation, John Muir’s emphasis on the created work of God is apparent in his poetry.
For the Christian, a relationship between God and nature is central to the Christian faith. Muir’s vision of nature is based on the beauty of God and the omnipresence of the Creator. While one does not have to believe in God in order to experience the beauty of nature, the presence of God in the world can transform us.
His views on commercial exploitation of the mountains
John Muir was a Scottish immigrant who came to America when he was young. He wrote long, poetic passages praising nature, emphasizing the need to protect the land. He also disparaged American Indians as dirty savages, and Blacks as lazy “Sambos.” Muir maintained a close friendship with other prominent figures of the time, including David Starr Jordan and Joseph LeConte, who advocated white supremacy and eugenics, the idea of forced sterilization of minority groups.
Muir’s passion for nature began when he was a young boy. His father had a strict religious upbringing, believing that any distraction from the Bible was frivolous. Despite the strict religious training he received, he became fascinated by the landscape of East Lothian, and his interests were further fueled by Alexander Wilson’s writings.
In the 1870s, Muir began advocating for a policy of forest conservation. He also began publishing articles on environmental topics in prestigious magazines. One of these was The Atlantic Monthly, which had a great influence on the academic community.
His reading of Emerson, Thoreau, and Darwin
John Muir’s religious roots are apparent in his writings and he believed that God created the world with the intent of creating beauty. His father, a strict and religious man, forced him to memorize the Bible. His father punished him for making even a single mistake in a verse, and he was able to quote two-thirds of the Old Testament and all of the New Testament by heart. He quoted bible verses for most of his life.
When he was young, John Muir’s family moved from Scotland to the United States, where he lived on a farm. He developed an appreciation for nature in this harsh environment, where his father regularly beat him for his hard work. His upbringing was a Calvinistic one, but he secretly read the works of Emerson, Thoreau, and Darwin to broaden his understanding of the world around him.
Emerson and Thoreau both emphasized the importance of preserving nature. Thoreau wrote about the beauty of nature, and he also used his writings to advocate for social change. His writings were influential for environmentalists such as John Muir.