When you hear the name John Burroughs, what comes to your mind first? If you live in the Mid-Hudson Valley, your first thought is likely to be “Slabsides,” the wooden cabin in West park, built by the 19thcentury naturalist, surrounded now by trails named after him. Most of us probably know more about Burroughs’ physical artifacts than about his deepest thoughts, philosophy and spiritualism.
Author and Educator Anne Richey will change that when she speaks on “John Burroughs’ Natural Religion” at the upcoming program of the Town of Lloyd Historical Presentation Society (TOLHPS). The program will take place on Monday, October 7 at 7 pm in the Vineyard Commons Theater/Meeting Room in Highland.
What did Burroughs mean by natural religion? Richey will tell of the influences that shaped his thinking: from the “Old School Baptist fundamentalism” of his parents, which he rebelled against, to his solid grounding in the scientific method. The result, says Richey, was Burroughs’ “sense of the sacred in nature without losing sight of the importance of detached scientific observation of the world around him.”
Richey will show how this natural religion impacted Burroughs’ life. She’ll also, she promises, link his nature gospel to some of the green thinking about the environmental crisis we face today, revealing how natural religion shapes some of our own thinking.
Anne Richey is a native North Carolinian who chose the Mid-Hudson region to be her home many years ago. She is a graduate of North Carolina University and has a master’s degree from Georgia State. Richey taught abroad for many years. Since her return, she’s been a teacher of at-risk children and an adjunct professor at New York University. Currently she teaches poetry to adults at the Lifetime Learning Institutes of Bard College and SUNY-New Paltz.
Well-known as a poet, she is the author of the book, Church of the Robin’s Ha-Ha!: John Burroughs’ “Natural Religion” and Other Poems . However, she stresses that this program will be a talk, not a poetry reading.
TOLHPS sponsors free monthly public programs from September to June, usually on the first Monday of the month. Vineyard Commons is at 300 Vineyard Avenue, about a mile and a quarter from the Hamlet of Highland on Route 44/55, just south of the Hudson Valley Rehabilitation Center. To reach the theater, turn into Vineyard Commons and follow the signs to Building 6. At the request of Vineyard Commons management, audience members are asked to park their cars in the lot at the far right (west) end of the row of buildings that includes Building 6.
For more information about TOLHPS programs and plans, consult the organization’s website,TOLHPS.org, look for Town of Lloyd Historical Preservation Society on Facebook, or call 845-255-7742.