The Place of Nature in Twelfth-Century Spirituality



This essay considers recent scholarship on nature and spirituality in the twelfth century, the period when Europeans ostensibly ‘discovered’ nature. In doing so, it demonstrates the ways in which certain developments in twelfth-century Christian spirituality can participate in and enlarge the emerging conversation on the material conditions of human spirituality that is presently taking place in religious studies more generally as a result of our current ecological consciousness. Twelfth-century Christian spiritualities illuminate how people have created a material context through which they can better achieve spiritual experiences. Experiments in twelfth-century Christianity can help us greatly in thinking about how individuals and communities have crafted a place in the natural world as a technique for enhancing the experience of god's presence.