Finding Wisdom in the Desert

“From Desert Christians to Mountain Refugees:

Fierce Landscapes and Counter-Cultural Spirituality”


W

e wanted to send out the word on an upcoming series of lectures  by the writer and theologian Belden Lane, taking place October 19 and 20 at the Canadian Mennonite University. Lane’s book, The Solace of Fierce Landscapes, is a remarkable exploration of the deep traditions of desert and mountain spirituality; remarkable because he not only offers a historical overview of the tradition, but also weaves into it some very poignant and personal stories and reflections. For many readers, this has become something of a watershed book in understanding the nature of the spiritual life.

The series takes place in the chapel of CMU’s South Campus, located at 600 Shaftesbury Avenue. The scheduled lectures are as follows:

  • October 19, 11:00 AM – Places on the Edge: The Power of Desert/Mountain Terrain in Christian Thought
  • October 19, 7:30 PM – The Counter-Cultural Spirituality of the Desert Fathers for Today
  • October 20, 11:00 AM – Fire in the Desert: Learning from the Desert Mothers

Here’s a brief summary of Dr Lane’s themes for the series, drawn from the CMU site:

In the history of Christian spirituality, desert and mountain terrain has often been the source (and refuge) of counter-cultural movements. The Desert Christians in the fourth century went into the desert beyond the Nile, reacting after Constantine to the church’s support of a prosperity theology, gospel of success, and militarism. In sixteenth-century Switzerland, Anabaptists hid in barns and fled to caves in the Jura Mountains, questioning the magisterial Reformation in similar ways. These lectures will explore some ways in which the appeal of fierce landscapes in the Christian life is closely related to its prophetic witness to the dynamism of faith on the margins.

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