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The Church in the Wildwood: An Environmental History of Outdoor Ministry, 1945-1980
thesisposted on 01.05.2021, 00:00 by Christopher William Anderson
This dissertation explores the history of religious camps and retreat centers in order to provide fresh insights into the history of environmentalism in the United States. Ecumenical Protestantism and the ecology movement both changed the calculus of American morality in the 1960s and 70s. Exploring the growth of Protestant outdoor ministries, we find that these institutions reacted to ecological critiques with temperate but gradual reforms. The dominant paradigm of environmental stewardship shaped the discourse of moral environmentalism in serious but limiting ways. Camps, by virtue of their "natural" settings and sizable acreage, give us a new way to interrogate the history of spirituality and ecology. This dissertation uses archival material, case study visits, and oral histories to gain better understanding of religious environmentalism in the Anthropocene.