Calvin in the Yard?

Over at Amazon today, I noticed one of the reviews of God in the Yard. It's subject line:

A New Kind of Spiritual Discipline.

I guess it can feel that way. Sitting out in the yard, taking in the gifts of nature (even the mosquitoes, yes :). It can feel like a new thing, to the modern Christian accustomed to a pietistic approach.

It even felt new to me—when I sat under stars in snow or rain—since I come from a church that emphasizes intellectual devotion and abstraction over Creation, the senses, and experience.

You can imagine how fascinated I was this morning, then, to read of the dual-thinking of Calvin and the Puritans, on matters of nature, desire, and even ecology. I hadn't known much about Calvin except the doctrine of predestination. This, I discovered, is owed to some of the theologians who came after him, as they emphasized one side of his ideas over the other.

The best way to share with you my fascination about the lesser-known side of Calvin is to share some of the quotes from Calvin and the Puritans, that were included in Chapter 1 of Ravished by Beauty: The Surprising Legacy of Reformed Spirituality.

William Lawson, on gardening as an aid to spiritual reflection:

"pause with your selfe, and view the end of all your labours in an Orchard: unspeakable pleasure, and infinite commodity"

Nathaniel Ward, Puritan pastor, in a code of laws for the Massachusetts colony:

"No man shall exercise any Tiranny or Crueltie towards any bruite Creature which are usuallie kept for man's use"

John Calvin

"What a pleasure it is to dive into the secrets of nature.... What a deal of the majesty of the great Creator doth shine in the face of this fabric of the world!"

"If I now seek to despoil the land of what God has given it to sustain human beings, then I am seeking as much as I can to do away with God's goodness."

These are not isolated quotes, but just a few of many that Belden C. Lane shares. His discussion is a beautiful balance of thought that might fascinate you too—whether you're sitting at the desk or in the yard.

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Blogger Glynn said...

If your yard has tulips, that might explain Calvin.


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