A Poetics of Nature: Religious Naturalism, Multiplicities and Affinities.”

Document Type

Contribution to Book

Source Publication

Religion, Materialism and Ecology

Publication Date



Sigurd Bergmann, Kate Rigby, and Peter Manley Scott




New York, New York


Routledge Environmental Humanities




Religious Studies


This chapter aims to deconstruct the specific functioning of an influential Anthropocene grand narrative that has often blinded many contemporaries from considering other possible, alternative ways of embracing the realities of anthropogenic disruptions in the contemporary era. It introduces a poetics of nature grounded in the tenets of religious naturalism, which explores other narratives often made invisible by an overarching concern for the human and activity by the human. As a capacious, ecological religious worldview, religious naturalism reframes humans as natural processes in relationship with other forms of nature. It also features a materialist, relational ontology, encouraging humans’ processes of transformative engagement with the more-than-human worlds that constitute our existence. This poetics of nature’s lived truths is expressed in the poetic, philosophic and literary expressions of such iconic figures as Walt Whitman, Mary Oliver, Annie Dillard and Anna Julia Cooper. Inspired by their aesthetic-ethical visions found in select works, this poetics of nature re-inscripts the human as part of life’s complex web of cultural and cosmic meanings, accentuating new emphases in myriad nature’s enunciations, desires, dreams and possibilities. It also considers new, creative ways of understanding human-nature relations, conceptualising human agency and responding aesthetically-ethically to the challenges of anthropogenic climate change.