Losing old gods, finding nature

I recently headed back to Colorado for a wonderful weekend of R&R with my girlfriend and her family. We went skiing at Crested Butte, an absolutely amazing mountain way out in the center of the state. Here’s what happens when I ski:
1. I fall down. This happens a handful of times. During this particular trip, I managed to stay vertical 95% of the day, even completing a blue square run without dropping.
2. I come closer to completion. Allow me to explain: When I’m sliding down the side of a mountain fast as hell, staring out into the distance where other peaks look back at me, feeling the warmth of the sun and listening to the whoosh of air past my ears, I really do find a little slice of heaven.
I’m guessing that this is a not-too-foreign experience for those familiar to strapping slippery boards to their feet and shooting down a hill. I relish these moments as I coast towards the base of the mountain. I use religious language to describe these times. Increasingly, I am not alone.
Bron Taylor’s “Dark Green Religion: Nature, Spirituality, and the Planetary Future” describes the “replacement” or at least supplementation of traditional religions by more sensory forms of spirituality. I want to read this book. I grew up around trees and I feel a very deep connection to nature. Here’s a very important piece of an interview with Bron Taylor on Religion Dispatches:
…traditional religions with their beliefs in non-material divine beings are in decline…new forms of spirituality have been filling the cultural niches previously occupied by conventional religions. I argue that the forms I document in Dark Green Religion are much more likely to survive than longstanding religions, which involved beliefs in invisible, non-material beings. This is because most contemporary nature spiritualities are sensory (based on what we perceive with our senses, sometimes enhanced by clever gadgets), and thus sensible. They also tend to promote ecologically adaptive behaviors, which enhances the survival prospects of their carriers, and thus their own long-term survival prospects.
Right on. The Vatican (my Vatican), says that the hit film Avatar aims to replace the divine with nature, and I’m more than happy to agree with them. I feel that my church sometimes forgets the long tradition of Catholic eremitic life and agrarian spirituality. Moral of the story: Nature doesn’t have to be worshipped as a replacement of the divine, but it is certainly a worthy thing to honor and respect and pray for.

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