This morning, I decided to begin some of my homework in a relaxed way, and cross off what I could before getting into the intense and thick readings, or the papers that I will have to write. One of my pieces of homework from the Language of Nature was simply a link to a presentation about nature's relationship to art and God through history.
The first juxtaposition that I found interesting was that the woods were often portrayed in paintings as dark, scary, and unknown. God was not found in nature and to revere nature as beautiful was a competition to spirituality. Eventually, things changed and light began to represent God's presence in paintings. Forests eventually lightened their understories and shafts of light may illuminate something in particular, reminding you that God is present in that natural setting, and revering God's natural beauty that was created by him was acceptable and desirable.
I learned some fascinating things from the presentation about how art reflected the attitudes and ideas that man had about God and nature and changed with those shifting ideas. I was surprised to learn that the painters who painted real places were very much responsible for their eventual preservation.
Places like Yellowstone, Yosemite and Niagara Falls were not places that people were able to visit directly, but by painters highlighting their awe-inspiring beauty, people felt compelled to make sure that those landscapes were not ruined. The same was true for several animals, and the point was made that the turkey was almost made the United State's official bird - which would have certainly lead to the extinction of the eagle.
I have to say that I really want to visit some of the National Parks out west even more now...