“The Mass on the World” on a Winter Afternoon: Contemporary Wilderness Religious Experience and Ultimacy

Susan Power Bratton 1
  • 1 Baylor University, Waco, United States of America

Abstract

Contemporary studies of wilderness spirituality are based primarily in quantitative social science, and disagree over the relative influence of shared stories and religious traditions. In a study of visitors to California’s national parks and trails, Kerry Mitchell found that backpackers reported heightened perceptions, fueled by such dichotomies as the encounter with the spectacular rather than the mundane, and with divine organization rather than human organization in wilderness. I argue wilderness experience informed only by natural scenery falls short in encountering ultimacy. Pierre Teilhard de Chardin’s “The Mass on the World” offers a unified rather than a fragmented vision of divine relationship to the natural and the human. Multiple readings can inform the wilderness sojourner, including a basic, open reading as a prayer shared with all nature; an environmental reading considering suffering and the act of Eucharistic offering; and a constructive reading to address dichotomies and fuse humanity and nature into an integrated cosmic future

If the inline PDF is not rendering correctly, you can download the PDF file here.

  • Andrews, Malcolm. Landscape and Western Art. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000.

  • Berry, Thomas. The Great Work. New York: Bell Tower, 1999.

  • Bratton, Susan P. “Battling Satan in the wilderness: antagonism, spirituality and wild nature in the four gospels.” In Proceedings National. Wilderness Research Conference: Current Research, 406-411. US Forest Service, Intermountain Research Station, General Technical Report INT-212, 1986.

  • Bratton, Susan P. Christianity, Wilderness and Wildlife: The Original Desert Solitaire. Scranton, PA: University of Scranton Press, 1993.

  • Bratton, Susan P. The Spirit of the Appalachian Trail: Community, Environment, and Belief on a Long Distance Hiking Path. Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 2012.

  • Dean-Drummond, Celia, ed. Pierre Teilhard de Chardin on People and the Planet. London: Routledge, 2017.

  • Johnson, Russell and Kerry Moran. Tibet’s Sacred Mountain: The Extraordinary Pilgrimage to Mount Kailas. Rochester, VT: Park Street Press, 1989.

  • Grey, Mary. “Cosmic communion: A contemporary reflection on the Eucharistic vision of Teilhard de Chardin.” In Dean-Drummond, Celia, ed. Pierre Teilhard de Chardin on People and the Planet, edited by Celia Dean-Drummond, 107-123. London: Routledge, 2017.

  • King, Thomas. Teilhard’s Mass: Approaches to “The Mass on the World”. New York: Paulist Press, 2005.

  • King, Ursula, Spirit of Fire: The Life and Vision of Pierre Teilhard de Chardin. Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 1996.

  • Lane, Belden. The Solace of Fierce Landscapes: Exploring Desert and Mountain Spirituality. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 2007.

  • Mitchell, Kerry. Spirituality & the State: Managing Nature and Experience in America’s National Parks, New York: New York University Press, 2016.

  • Richo, David. Everything Ablaze: Mediating on the Mystical Vision of Teilhard de Chardin. New York: Paulist Press, 2017.

  • Smith, Wolfgang. Theistic Evolution: The Teilhardian Heresy. Tacoma: Angelico Press, 2012.

  • Theiladr de Chardin, Pierre. Hymn of the Universe. New York: Harper & Row, 1961.

  • Underhill, Evelynn. Mysticism: A Study in the Nature and Development of Spiritual Consciousness. New York: Dover Books, 2002.

OPEN ACCESS

Journal + Issues

Open Theology is an international Open Access, peer-reviewed academic journal that welcomes contributions written in English addressing religion in its various forms and aspects: historical, theological, sociological, psychological, and other.

Search