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went out for a walk and finally concluded to stay out till
for going out, I found, was really going in." ~John Muir
Join us this
Monday 4/18 for a screening of John Muir in the
magnificent, spiritual, and awe-inspiring film about Muir, the father of the
environmental movement and the founder of the Sierra Club, the oldest and
largest grassroots conservation organization in the
April 18 PBS , check your local listings.
watch a preview
(Sorry, if you
are not in the
By Anna Maria Gillis
Its on his
journey of scientific inquiry, first to the Gulf and in his first
summer in the
leaves much of his Calvinist background behind, says Worster.
A man of his
time, Muir was raised with the view from Genesis that God has
given man dominion over all of nature. But in A Thousand-Mile Walk to the
Gulf, based on his journals from that period published posthumously in
1916, Muir adopts a humbler view: The world, we are told, was made
especially for mana presumption not supported by all the facts. A
numerous class of men are painfully astonished whenever they find anything,
living or dead, in all Gods universe, which they cannot eat or render in some
way what they call useful to themselves. He goes on to say, From the dust
of the earth, from the common elementary fund, the Creator has made Homo
sapiens. From the same material he has made every other creature, however
noxious and insignificant to us. They are earth-born companions and our
fellow mortals. The fearfully good, the orthodox, of this laborious
patchwork of modern civilization cry Heresy on every one whose
sympathies reach a single hairs breadth beyond the boundary epidermis of
our own species.
nineteenth-century thinkersHumboldt, Emerson, Thoreau,
Ruskinlooked at nature for inspiration, and Muir knew their work, but
Muir went further. He may be regarded, says Worster in an interview, as
a religious prophet, one whose religion was Nature.
John Muir quotes:
"When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to
everything else in the universe."
"One touch of nature makes the whole world kin."
needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in,
where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul."
are on the world, not in it-- having no conscious sympathy or
relationship to anything about them-- undiffused seporate, and rigidly alone
like marbles of polished stone, touching but separate. "
we selfish conceited creatures are in our sympathies! How
blind to the rights of all the rest of creation!"
"Yet how hard most people work for mere
dust and ashes and care, taking
no thought of growing in knowledge and grace, never having time to get in
sight of their own ignorance."
profoundly shaped the very categories through which Americans
understand and envision their relationships with the natural world," writes
Holmes. Muir was noted for being an ecological thinker, political
spokesman, and religious prophet, whose writings became a personal guide
into nature for countless individuals, making his name "almost ubiquitous" in
the modern environmental consciousness. According to author William
Anderson, Muir exemplified "the archetype of our oneness with the
earth", while biographer Donald Worster says he understood his mission
to be, "Saving the American soul from total surrender to materialism."
more complete biography:
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