Frank William Boreham 1871-1959

Frank William Boreham 1871-1959
A photo F W Boreham took of himself in 1911

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Boreham and His Theology of Nature

Theological Foundations
While F W Boreham’s involvement in the Royal Society of Tasmania stimulated his thinking and action, the observation that in natural history and environmental organizations in Australia “there were many clergymen involved in these groups” hints that there were theological dimensions that underpinned people’s concern for nature.[1]

This posting and the next few will highlight some of Boreham’s theological perspectives on nature.

Life is One
It has been seen that Boreham’s call to care for all people and protect flora and fauna stemmed from his contention that ‘life is one’ and that to care for one part of the environment and spoil another is contradictory to the unity of all life. Springtime was the best illustration of Boreham’s ‘life is one’ doctrine. Describing the way that life in nature calls to the life within human beings, he said: “A life that pulses within us greets, in an ecstasy of kinship, the life that swarms around us. They act and react upon each other. The vision of life multiplying itself in a thousand chaste and charming forms on every side stimulates appreciably our own vitality. Life responds to life as, in other conditions, love responds to love”.[2]

Kinship of Life
F W Boreham is exclaiming that the life force within humanity is the same life that exudes from nature. This essential ‘kinship’ of life in its various forms yearns to flow together in a mutual energizing and a reproduction of further life. This relationship between humans and nature is nurtured by respect and contact. For Boreham spring was an example of the ‘theorem’ coined by Robert Louis Stevenson as “the essential livableness of life” in which, as he put it: “We feel that things are moving. The world is awake. In clapping our hands at the gilding of the wattle and the coming of the swallow we are bearing witness to our dauntless and deathless love of living. We are giving three cheers for life itself and offering an act of grateful homage to that sublime Source of all life without Whom none of these raptures could, by any possibility, be ours”.[3]

Awake to Life
Being awake to life and expressing acclamation for the dramatic acts of nature was, according to Boreham, an expression of humanity’s love of life and its participation with nature. Such communion with nature was unconsciously a joyous service of worship with the ‘Source of life’ involving a liturgy of praise, offering and perception.

Geoff Pound

Image: “three cheers for life.”

[1] Hutton and Connors, A history of the Australian environmental movement, 32.
[2] Boreham, Mercury, 3 September 1949.
[3] Boreham, Mercury, 2 November 1946.