cover image The Blue Sapphire of the Mind: Notes for a Contemplative Ecology

The Blue Sapphire of the Mind: Notes for a Contemplative Ecology

Douglas E. Christie. Oxford Univ., $29.95 (464p) ISBN 978-0-19-981232-5

Christie (The Word in the Desert) argues for spirituality as a guide for divining meaning from the natural world and for responding to its dying. To him, “a full and adequate understanding of ecology requires the integration of spiritual insight and practice.” Throughout the book shines the blue sapphire, an image from the fourth-century monk Evagrius describing the contemplative mind, born of grace through prayer. Christie contemplates sorrow, place, words, and emptiness on his way to “the practice of Paradise” (heaven). In each chapter, through engaging narratives and lyrical descriptions, Christie, grounded by Roman Catholicism, offers a personal memory, a tie to the thoughts of early Christian monks, excellent questions, and extended analyses of particular writers, admirably balanced between men and women, including, of course, Thoreau, Dillard, Carson, and Merton. Christie, a generous impresario, produces a rich anthology of quotes. They sometimes outstrip his own writing, which is hampered by wordiness, subjects disagreeing with predicates in number, ponderous prose, and the snooty and vague pronoun “one.” Overall, however, Christie encourages and supports thinking on “green” religion. (Dec.)