Christianity Out-of-Doors
Thoreau's Journal: 26-Apr-1857

A great part of our troubles are literally domestic or originate in the houses and from living indoors. I could write an essay to be entitled “Out of Doors,”—undertake a crusade against houses. What a different thing Christianity preached to the house-bred and to a party who lived out of doors! Also a sermon is needed on economy of fuel. What right has my neighbor to burn ten cords of wood, when I burn only one? Thus robbing our half-naked town of this precious covering. Is he so much colder than I? It is expensive to maintain him in our midst. If some earn the salt of their porridge, are we certain that they earn the fuel of their kitchen and parlor? One man makes a little of the driftwood of the river or of the dead and refuse (unmarketable!) of the forest suffice, and Nature rejoices in him. Another, Herod-like, requires ten cords of the best of young white oak or hickory, and he is commonly esteemed a virtuous man. He who burns the most wood on his hearth is least warmed by the sight of it growing. Leave the trim wood-lots to widows and orphan girls. Let men tread gently through nature. Let us religiously burn stumps and worship in groves, while Christian vandals lay waste the forest temples to build miles of meeting-houses and horse-sheds and feed their box stoves.


Brette W said...

Thoreau's point can be applied today's world as well. He writes about his neighbor burning more wood than he does, and he questions the right that he has to that extra bit of fuel. How come that man can burn more fuel than Thoreau? Because he wants to? Because he needs to? And does he TRULY need to? In the oil crisis plaguing us right now, what gives the US and other gas-guzzling countries the right to burn up as much fuel as we feel necessary? Our country has become so dependent on gasoline that we continue to fill up our tanks, even if it takes over $40 dollars out of our own wallets. At what point do we stop? Ever? Will Thoreau's neighbor continue to burn the extra wood, even when the forest is knocked down? There will always be someone like that - in a small community or the world community - a person who eats away at the natural resources just because they feel like it.

Rachel S. said...

Thoreau's idea of bringing religion back to nature makes a good point. At the time he was writing, religion was concentrating on God's more distant wonders instead of thinking about the ones all around us in the natural world. It makes more sense to take better care of this world while we're here, not spend so much time thinking about the next. In the present day, however, people are more distracted by their desires than their spiritual needs. Yet still they are destroying nature. Like Thoreau says, we can all get along with a lot less than we do. So why not cut back some and let nature live?