cover image America’s Holy Ground: 61 Faithful Reflections on Our National Parks

America’s Holy Ground: 61 Faithful Reflections on Our National Parks

Brad Lyons and Bruce Barkhauer. Chalice, $21.99 (224p) ISBN 978-0-8272-0075-3

Former journalist Lyons and pastor Barkhauer (Community of Prayer) share their belief in the spiritual power of nature in these brief meditations of national parks. Each begins with a quotation from the Bible before relating natural phenomena that inspire “humility, wonder, awe, and gratitude... such as when you peer over the rim of the Grand Canyon.” The authors also provide meditations on a theme related to the park. In the entry on Bryce Canyon, Utah, which isn’t a canyon but “a collection of hoodoos, fins, spires, and other formations” formed by rain, the nature of language is the focus. In Glacier Bay, Alaska, the authors consider landscape changes over millennia, rendered starkly by the icefalls from glaciers, a metaphor for the slow movement of God’s work. Treating 61 parks in a single book (and coming up with a unique theme for each), however, leads to a few duds, but beautiful photographs, detailed descriptions, and plenty of historical information pad out even the barer entries. Relatively brief and sometimes superficial, these ruminations on American national parks nevertheless invite readers to appreciate the value of protected places and ponder their spiritual power. (Apr.)

Correction: This review was updated with a new subtitle and the text was changed to reflect that the book now covers 61 parks, not 660 as it previously said.