Divinizing nature and naturalizing the divine—some black and white photos of the woods and meadows by the River Cam

This morning I took a walk from the centre of Cambridge out to Granchester through the lovely meadows and woods beside the River Cam. It's a walk that's been taken by generations of fellows, scholars and townsfolk for centuries and it never fails to restore my spirits and give me some space and time to think various important things through.

On this occasion I was particularly reflecting upon a couple of connected themes. The first was something I mentioned on Sunday, namely that my project here in Cambridge as the Unitarian minister is, in a nutshell, "to divinize nature and naturalize the divine." As I walked I realised that choosing to use the word "project" might make it seem as if I set out from the beginning with this objective in mind but that's not right. It is much more accurate to say that it is an outcome of my ongoing intellectual/spiritual journey. However, given that it's showed up so strongly and consistently in my own life, and that it seems to me more and more to be the right path to follow, it has, without doubt, become my project. For those interested the phrase comes from Frederick C. Beiser's wonderful book After Hegel: German Philosophy, 1840-1900 (Princeton University Press, 2014, p. 4):

“Spinoza’s famous phrase ‘deus sive natura’ made it possible to both divinize nature and naturalize the divine. Following that dictum, a scientist, who professed the most radical naturalism, could still be religious; and a pastor, who confessed the deepest personal faith in God, could still be a naturalist.”

The second theme was my personal felt relationship with nature and what I guess you could call called "the British pagan tradition" following the still fairly recent recognition (April 2015) that my personal formal involvement with, and commitment to, Christianity is, to be blunt about it, over. You can read about the "epiphanal moment" when I realised this was the case in the following address written at the time:

Maintenance or mission? — A problem with the current ecumenical situation in the UK or, “Would Jesus Join A Christian Church Today?”

Anyway, it seemed particularly appropriate to be working through these thoughts in the meadows and woods that run by the river.

Below are a few photos taken on the way (iPhone6+ and the Blackie App). Just click on a photo to enlarge it.





























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