Stories permeate religious discourse, and among the most important stories in the history of Christianity are those which recount the life converted. Shared features have emerged over time—a search for meaning, a recognition of self-limitation, choices that signal self-denial and dependence on another. These moments, which reappear through time and across cultures, signal shared understanding of faith and community, and provide theologically rich sources of reflection on God and the self. But while some evangelical conversion narratives became formulaic in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, many recent “spiritual autobiographies” or “life writings” have broken convention with remarkably powerful results. Continue reading
Consider the Romantic narrative of the solitary wanderer. As the story goes, the poet-genius rambles off into the woods or high up along the ridge of a mountain and, along the way, encounters the divine.
The narrative is a powerful one, not least because so many of us have had just such an encounter with divinity by way of nature. Continue reading