Old Faithful
Sacred Wonderland | Writing

Religion in Yellowstone

When I mention that I am working on a history of religion in Yellowstone National Park, people are often puzzled. They usually say something like, “Is there religion in Yellowstone?” And then they might remark, “Oh, you must mean Native Americans.”

Old Faithful
Old Faithful, a national icon (Photo by T.S. Bremer, 2006)

“Yes,” I reply, “I will include something about how Native American people regarded the area, but my project is more about how other religious people have encountered Yellowstone in terms of their own religious orientations. Yellowstone has been a place of religion for all sorts of visitors from its earliest days to the present.”

This usually gets one of two responses. People either glaze over and look for something else to talk about, or they are more puzzled and want to hear more. I can’t do much for the former; we can talk about the weather, the latest news, but mostly they prefer to talk about themselves. “What’s going on in your life?” I ask, and we veer away from topics of religion, Yellowstone, and the American national character.

For those intrigued by the image of Yellowstone as a place of religion, I jump into the heart of the story. Religion has been a key factor in making Yellowstone an appealing destination, but like the magician’s sleight of hand, we don’t see how it works, we don’t realize its ubiquitous presence. Religious influence remains hidden, out of view, an implicit force driving the engine of Yellowstone’s popular attraction. Religion defines Yellowstone in more ways than most people imagine. My book tells the story of how religion reappears over and over again in Yellowstone.

For the details and intrigue of this story, you will have to read the book. Which means I need to finish writing it, a publisher must agree to put it out, and you will then have the pleasure of buying it and learning the story of Yellowstone religions. In the meantime, you can stay tuned here (or more accurately, sign up for new posts and updates—see the signup form on this page) for more revelations about the Yellowstone Revelation. ♨

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