Wild Belief

Poets and Prophets in the Wilderness

Wild Belief

Poets and Prophets in the Wilderness

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"Midway upon the journey of our life / I found myself within a forest dark." Dante's Inferno begins with imagery of the wilderness marked by darkness, fear, and the unknown. In folktales, legends, and children's stories, the wilderness is a place of conflict and exile. Yet there is another spiritual tradition that embraces the complexities of the wilderness as a place of rejuvenation and wonder--a place where Thomas Merton said "man purges himself of 'sediments of society' and becomes a new creature."

A book for those of us who revel in the beauty and mystery of the natural world, Wild Belief brings together poets and prophets, saints and storytellers from across the ages who share a common search for the spirit. Their explorations of forests, wetlands, and deserts expose the wilderness as both a fearful and a sacred space--a tension that aptly captures the unknown and surprising elements of belief. As we join them on their search for the divine, our eyes open to the possibilities of transformation, to our most fundamental stories, and to a fertile spirituality we can only find in the wild.


"What is wild? The etymology suggests something uncultivated, undomesticated, but etymology may not be so helpful here. Wild is where life flourishes in its own systems: with death and decay; with growth and growling; with fear and flourishing; with humus and hunting. In the wild, life and death are their own economies. In Wild Belief, NickRipatrazone considers the wildness of belief and--perhaps more importantly--belief in wild. This book reads like ecosystematic storytheology. Taking poets as his guides, Ripatrazone searches undergrowth and horizons; he considers language that is not bound by what should be said, but rather explodes into its own system of meaning. He hikes, Nick does, and in his writing, we see things we can neither explain nor contain. Look, Nick says, over there, life where you might not have expected it. We're in unsafe territory. We are in safe hands. Look."

Pádraig Ó Tuama, Theologian in Residence for On Being, host of Poetry Unbound, and author of In the Shelter: Finding a Home in the World


"English majors with a passion for theology: this work of criticism primarily concerned with other writers' words is for us."
Christian Century

Product Info

  • Publisher Broadleaf Books
  • Format Hardcover
  • ISBN 9781506464633
  • eBook ISBN 9781506464640
  • Dimensions 6.25 x 9.25
  • Pages 148
  • Publication Date May 18, 2021