Spirituality in national parks: a review of Kerry Mitchell

Spirituality in national parks: a review of Kerry Mitchell

Spirituality and the State by Kerry Mitchell examines state power through a lens of “spirituality” in America’s national parks. This book shows how affection for parklands relies on a love of nature which is also a love of oneself and of one’s nation. Though intellectually engaging, Mitchell grounds his analysis in stories of people enjoying national parks. ♨

Do National Parks Have a Role in an Agrarian Future?

Do National Parks Have a Role in an Agrarian Future?

A few years ago I listened in on a conversation with poet, novelist, and essayist Wendell Berry, introduced that day as “without question the leading agrarian of our time.” He suggested a definition of this term agrarian as a “love for farming” that includes an inclination to put land first as our highest value. “Access to land,” Berry surmised, “provides…

Why do we have national parks?

Why do we have national parks?

In his affectionate review of author Michael Frome’s corpus of writings about national parks, Alfred Runte asks, “Why do we have national parks?” Runte summarizes Frome’s insistent answer: “Because every generation deserves to have them. They are not for the economy; they are rather for the soul of the country. They are all about keeping our tomorrows whole.” In Frome’s…

Religion in the National Parks

Religion in the National Parks

Religion has been an implied value in America’s national park idea from the time of the earliest nineteenth-century parks to the present. But the religious element usually remains buried in visitors’ private aesthetic responses to park experiences and attractions. Rarely do specific theological views appear in the parks, even in unofficial activities or park uses. Certainly, the National Park Service…

“Only God Can Create A National Park”

“Only God Can Create A National Park”

There has been a persistent sense among many Americans that national parks are special places, even sacred. It was Horace Albright, the second Director of the National Park Service, who said in 1930 that “Only God can create a national park.” Such theologically tinged interpretations, of course, borrow on the leftover patriotism of nineteenth-century Manifest Destiny. This story of the…

Celebrating a Government Agency

Celebrating a Government Agency

America celebrates the centennial of the National Park Service this year with some high-profile publicity for the nation’s parks. First Lady Michelle Obama and former First Lady Laura Bush are serving as honorary co-chairs of the National Park Service’s centennial celebration, highlighted by Find Your Park, a public awareness and education campaign celebrating the milestone centennial anniversary, specifically targeting millennials;…