In Inherit the Holy Mountain, historian Mark Stoll introduces us to the religious roots of the American environmental movement. Religion, he shows, provided environmentalists both with deeply-embedded moral and cultural ways of viewing the world and with content, direction, and tone for the causes they espoused.
Stoll discovers that specific denominational origins corresponded with characteristic sets of ideas about nature and the environment as well as distinctive aesthetic reactions to nature, as can be seen in key works of art analyzed throughout the book.
Stoll also provides insight into the possible future of environmentalism in the United States, concluding with an examination of the current religious scene and what it portends for the future. By debunking the supposed divide between religion and American environmentalism, Inherit the Holy Mountain opens up a fundamentally new narrative in environmental studies.
In this impressively detailed and thoroughly researched work, Stoll, a professor of history at Texas Tech University, provides a narrative history of the relationship between American environmentalism and religious denominations, showing diversity as well as coherent trends in theology-driven thinking about nature. He gives readers a comprehensive grounding in the basics of environmental and religious movements as they developed in America, overlaying their histories to show a tangled web of mutual influence. For example, he notes that the leaders of the wilderness preservation movement had a greater variety of religious backgrounds and motivations than most other environmental movements. Stoll casts a wide net, insightfully treating works of art such as early landscape paintings and songs like "America the Beautiful" as significant expressions of a philosophy about nature. Thoughtful and fascinating, with carefully crafted prose and clearly organized evidence, this book provides a new lens on the history of both religion and the environment in America, showcasing not only the facts but also the motivations while providing new insights into the past and future.