United Theological Seminary

Chapel: Picard Lecture on Spirituality and the Environment

April 23, 2019 11:35 AM - 12:05 PM
United Theological Seminary of the Twin Cities
Address: 767 Eustis St., Suite 140, St. Paul, MN 55114

Since the passage of the Wilderness Act of 1964, a hotly contested debate over the value of wilderness reveals cultural anxieties about an American society that has spurned limits. Nathaniel Van Yperen’s forthcoming book, Gratitude for the Wild: Christian Ethics in the Wilderness, explores how the wild known in wilderness raises our tolerance for mystery in the recognition of our limits and in the celebration of a God-loved world that exceeds our grasping. The idea of wilderness introduces questions about the balance between utility and appreciation, and between enjoyment and restraint. Wilderness is a nexus of competing and contested accounts of responsibility. In conversation with the work of Doug Peacock, Terry Tempest Williams, James Gustafson, and Martin Luther King Jr., Nathaniel offers an original argument for how wilderness can evoke a vision of a good life in which creaturely limits are accepted in gratitude, even in the face of ambiguity and mystery. Through the theme of gratitude, the book refocuses attention on the role of affection and testimony in ecological ethics and Christian ethics.

Nathaniel’s research is in ecological ethics and interpretations of nature. He is an adjunct professor at United and serves as visiting assistant professor at Gustavus Adolphus College where he teaches courses in religion and ecology, race and religion, and the theology and ethics of Martin Luther King Jr. He earned a PhD, ThM, and MDiv at Princeton Theological Seminary. Recent publications include “The Public Significance of the Private Farm” in The Land Speaks (Oxford, 2017), “‘The Fierce Urgency of Now: The Ecological Legacy of King’s Social Ethics” in the Journal for the Society of Christian Ethics and a creative nonfiction piece, “Wolf,” in The Common: A Modern Sense of Place. He lives in St. Paul with his partner, his two boys, and a very energetic dog.

Chapel will be Zoomed. Use Zoom ID 607-482-1637.