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Chris Highland

Photo of Chris Highland
  • Teacher, writer, freethinker, humanist celebrant.
  • Author of Meditations of John Muir: Nature's Temple (2001). Highland states that this book is "a simple collection of what I consider the heart of Muir's "secular/spiritual" perspective, gleaned from many years of enjoying his delightful writings. The fact that I have placed his thoughts alongside quotes from diverse thinkers, religious and nonreligious, is an intentional bow to Muir's position in my "book of natural saints." Other books in the same series collect great thoughts of Thoreau, Emerson, Whitman, Fuller and Burroughs.

  • Highland has taught classes on "John Muir as Secular Saint" and includes Muir in his courses on the history of early American Freethought.
  • A former Presbyterian minister, Highland feels great sympathy for Muir's emergence from orthodoxy. "Muir felt stifled by the closed-minded, harsh ways of his father's peculiar brand of religion and the church of his youth. For him, it seems, the Church of the Wild was the only place where he could experience a closeness with the God Who is Beauty. His writings reflect his commitment to draw others into this radical experience with Nature that transcends all religions."

  • Chris has written a thorough analysis of Muir and Natives Americans in Ancoutahan: John Muir among Native Peoples.

  • Highland is also the author of Jesus and John Muir, a novel that imagines what might have happened if John Muir and Jesus of Nazareth met.

  • Highland has a book in progress, A Freethinker's Gospel: Essays for a Sacred Secular World which incorporates a great deal of John Muir as inspiration.
  • Highland further observes that John Muir was "a saunterer in the tradition of prophets of all eras who were voices at the edges of religion -- heretics if you will -- who served to call those lost in the weeds of creeds back to the fundamentals of the "Walk", that is, the fundamentals that begin with: all lessons of the heart are present to be seen and enjoyed in the sacred natural world around us."
  • Originally from Seattle, Washington, Chris served as an interfaith chaplain for many years in the San Francisco Bay Area before he and his wife Carol, a Presbyterian minister, moved to Asheville, North Carolina in 2016.

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