2. Reconnecting with Nature and Spiritual Experience

Environmental Spirituality and Wellbeing - Integrating Social and Therapeutic Theory and Practice - Jeff Leonardi

John Reader [+-]
William Temple Foundation
John Reader was Senior Research Fellow of the William Temple Foundation and Senior Tutor for the Christian and Rural Environmental Studies Course hosted by Ripon College, Cuddesdon. He published 6 solo books and co-edited or with chapters in a further 16. Recent publications include “A Philosophy of Christian Materialism” (co-written with Baker and James) “Theology and New Materialism” (Palgrave Radical Theologies series) and “Postdigital Theologies: Technology, Belief and Practice” (co-edited with Savin-Baden). John died suddenly in October 2023.


This chapter will examine the proposition that current attempts to reconnect with nature have the potential to be stepping-stones to spiritual experience. In order to do so it will look at examples of attempts at reconnection but also at some of the more theoretical ideas that are relevant to this. Examples include Forest Bathing and Forest Schools, Regenerative Agriculture and digital apps. The issue of whether secular reconnections can be equated with spiritual experience is examined in the light of ideas about the binary of culture and nature which is then brought into question in the work of such writers as Stengers and Latour. Stengers suggests that it necessary to acknowledge that we are sick through being disconnected with nature and Latour suggests that the language of folds is a means of understanding the reconnections that need to happen. If attention can be focussed on nature and lead to such developments then apparently secular attempts to reconnect even though taken out of their original spiritual context can indeed become stepping stones to spiritual experience as defined in the work of Jeff Leonardi, including a sense of the transcendent and the importance of relationships with both the human and the nonhuman.

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Reader, John. 2. Reconnecting with Nature and Spiritual Experience. Environmental Spirituality and Wellbeing - Integrating Social and Therapeutic Theory and Practice. Equinox eBooks Publishing, United Kingdom. p. Jun 2025. ISBN 9781800505841. https://www.equinoxpub.com/home/view-chapter/?id=45132. Date accessed: 21 Jul 2024 doi: 10.1558/equinox.45132. Jun 2025

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