Dr. Mark McReynolds will begin a new A Rocha project in the LA area, known as SoCal, where he says he hopes to use his environmental education, university teaching, research, and seminary skills to show that God is concerned about people and place and everyone, especially Christians, must be also. Their goal is to train leaders to start collaborative, community-based conservation activities to restore both people and places. The training includes Creation Care Camp, EcoChurch, Junior Rangers Club (an afterschool program), and leader meetings to provide community for creation care leaders in local churches. They are also leading conservation projects independently and through partnerships with local groups such as, Church in Creation formation experiences, EcoMissions trips, and Birding with a Mission trips. To read more about this project, click here.
Caring for Creation: The Evangelical’s Guide… by Mitch Hescox and Paul Douglas
Leader of the Evangelical Environmental Network (EEN), Mitch Hescox and respected meteorologist, Paul Douglas team up to bring an evangelical guide to creation care. Caring for Creation: The Evangelical’s Guide to Climate Change and a Healthy Environment looks honestly at the problem of climate change and argues that it is evangelical beliefs and conservative ethics which should inspire evangelical Christians to take action to be a better steward of the earth.
They begin by outlining what climate change is exactly and where it impacts our daily lives and lives of others around the world. They strike down the idea that the science that defends climate change is political. Thermometers, erratic weather, and other signs of a changing climate have no agenda liberal or conservative. They look back to the history of the conservative and republican movement in the US and find that it is deeply rooted in and aligned in conservative ideology to work against the effects of climate change. Statements from heroes in the Republican party, for example Ronald Reagan, who call for care for the environment remind readers of the history of support within the Republican party. The authors defend the development and use of renewable energy; they point to ways in which solar, wind, and other renewable energy forms are the future and provide economic growth.
Contextualizing the tradition of conservative and evangelical care for the environment, Hescox and Douglas give readers a background and examples of actions they can take to be better stewards of God’s creation. They point out that it is our children and future generations who will have to pay if we do not restore the earth; because of this reality, they call for action against climate change as a pro-life issue.
For any conservative evangelicals who feel alienated by creation care conversations in which they are not given space to reconcile their ideology with the movement, this book will be a breath of fresh air.
Caring for Creation: The Evangelical’s Guide to Climate Change and a Healthy Environment can be found on Amazon, through major book retailers, and your favorite independent bookstore.
Profile: Calvin DeWitt
Calvin DeWitt is a scientist, speaker, activist, and author of books like Earthwise: A Guide to Hopeful Creation Care (2011) and Song of a Scientists: The Harmony of a God-Soaked Creation (2012) in addition to countless articles. He is interested especially in the intersection of faith and action on the environmental crisis. With publications dating back to the 1960s, for decades DeWitt has been a force in creation care. He is also a founder of the Evangelical Environmental Network.
For more information on DeWitt’s publications and activism click here to be taken to his page at the Nelson Institute for Environmental Science at the University of Wisconsin.
“Time as Commodity, Time as Sacred” in Simpler Living, Compassionate Life
To see a general overview of Simpler Living, Compassionate Life click here.
In this section: “Excerpt from The Overworked American” by Juliet Schor (33-37); “The Spirituality of Everyday Life” by Cecile Andrews (37-41); “Entering the Emptiness” by Gerald May (41-51); “Contemplation and Ministry” by Henri Nouwen (52-58)
This section invites the reader into a greater thoughtfulness in conception and use of time. The opening excerpt from The Overworked American reveals the age of this collection in a way that few other essays throughout the work do. Written in the earliest years of the technological revolution, it fails to address the multitasking and attachment to technology that we experience in everyday life.
Cecile Andrews and Henri Nouwen offer insightful reflections on the need for mindfulness and contemplation. Nouwen believes that those involved in pastoring need contemplation to see and respect the complexity of the world and to position one’s obedience toward God.
Gerald May’s essay on emptiness and “the myth of fulfillment” speak to the universal experience of longing. He critiques popular religion that offers false promises of blissful contentment, arguing that “we were never meant to be completely filled..In this way we participate in love becoming life, life becoming love.” (47) While I found a number of May’s arguments to be compelling, I was deeply troubled by May’s note that “oppression by other humans…can teach the secret (hope of emptiness).”(48) He goes on to quote Frederick Douglass, but does not condemn oppression seen throughout the world as an incarnation of evil. There seems to me to be a very dangerous romanticization of oppression and failure to confront the horrific history of slavery in this statement, which could fall dangerously into ideology asserted by many in the nineteenth century that somehow slavery was “beneficial.”
Despite my concern with May’s essay, this section on the whole encourages individuals to embrace and cultivate quiet time and space in their lives. Its placement within the book suggests that simple living needs reflection on how a lifetime is spent.
“The Sacred Journey: Seeking an Abundant Life” in Simpler Living Compassionate Life
To see a general overview of Simpler Living Compassionate Life click here.
In this section: “Introduction to The Sacred Journey” by Frederick Buechner (19-22); “The Good Life and The Abundant Life” by Michael Schut (23-32)
This introduction argues for a change in perspective. Buechner calls readers to recognize and celebrate the movement of the divine in everyday life, to reclaim the sacred in the ordinary. To hope for living more simply and compassionately, we must begin with a recognition of the sacred reality of the lives around us. Later in this book other authors will argue that life is not just human life, but life of plants, animals and the universe itself.
When we are tuned into a generous understanding of the sacred we can recognize that we have uplifted the idol of “the good life.” Schut argues that as we have pursued good lives, we have revered “cultural idols” more than we should. He points to materialism and economic growth, productivity, anthropocentrism and individualism, and simplicity itself. Only simplicity rooted in a faithful understanding of the sacred can move us closer to an abundant life.
In the arc of this book, this early section is a wonderful foundation on that to confront other issues found later. The theme of sacred will continue throughout this work. Those intrigued by Buechner’s ideas about sacred in the everyday might also consider Tish Harrison Warren’s Liturgy of the Ordinary.
Simpler Living, Compassionate Life edited by Michael Schut
Simpler Living, Compassionate Life: A Christian Perspective (1998) grew out of a curriculum created by Michael Schut in 1996 and published by Earth Ministry. The early success of the curriculum led to its expanded publication as a larger collection. Featuring essays by Cecile Andrews, Henri Nouwen, Frederick Buechner, and many more, this collection touches many topics surrounding humanity’s relationship to our earthly home. In addition to the essays, the book includes 70 pages of additional material to help guide communities as they engage this book, making it a wonderful choice for book groups. This book is obviously meant not just to be read, but engaged, and engaged in community most of all.
Any work attempting to examine the global economy, everyday food choices, social structures, justice, and more will confront a problem of accessibility for readers without theological or ecological degrees. However, for those willing to take the time to move a little bit more slowly and intentionally through the selections, readers will find that Schut’s careful curation has created an accessible approach to the interconnected nature of our relationship to the natural world. The authors who contribute to this collection argue for a new way of moving through the world, voluntary simplicity inspired and grounded in a Christian faith that recognizes the sacred nature of all life.
Simpler Living, Compassionate Life can be found at most major book retailers, including Amazon here, and through your favorite independent bookstore. More detailed information on the sections of the book, including reviews for each section and author profiles can be found at the hyperlinks below. (Hyperlinks currently in progress.)
I Love God’s Green Earth by Michael and Caroline Carroll
I Love God’s Green Earth is a three-month devotional for kids who want to connect their Christian faith to learning more about the world and how to care for it. The devotional offers ninety days of exploration of the creation and faith. Each day begins with a Bible verse and short devotional on the topic of the day. Daily connections link the devotional to personal faith and “What can I do?” gives examples of easy actions to take care of God’s creation. “Crazy facts” and jokes sprinkled throughout the devotion break up the serious topics.
A wide range of topics are covered including energy production, endangered animals, and creative solutions to recycling. In the first ten days, I was disappointed that many of the “What can I do?” sections recommended reflecting and “relaying” thoughts to God instead of specific actions that can be taken. However, after the early days, the book managed to find a balance of action and reflection in its recommendations. It also offered many websites for readers to learn more about topics they were of interest and take their own initiative in creating change. This section of the devotional also gives space for children to reflect and engage big conversations around creation care from nuclear power to endangered animals.
While it does not take as strong a stance on global warming as I would have liked, it recognizes the changing climate and acknowledges human influence on the changing climate. I was impressed by the range of topics it covered and pleased with the action suggestions. Though it was published in 2010, this book’s introductory approach to faith and care for creation has prevented it from becoming outdated. This is a wonderful resource for families and Sunday school leaders across Christian denominations. It can be purchased through most major retail sellers as well as the publisher’s website directly, which offers discounts for single and bulk purchases.
To visit the publisher’s website click here. For a 25 page excerpt of the devotional including the table of contents click here. A brief bio on author Caroline can be found here and one on Michael can be found here.
7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess
Overwhelmed by the excess in her own life, Jen Hatmaker and her family set out on a project they called “Seven.” Highlighting seven areas of excess, they committed to living a little more simply every month. Originally published in 2011 and updated in 2017, 7 has been utilized for book studies in many Christian faith communities. For those overwhelmed with the task of implementing creation care in their own lives, Hatmaker’s memoir tells of her family’s practical and faith inspired experiment. More information about Hatmaker’s project can be found on her blog.
Hatmaker’s book can be found here and through your favorite book retailer.
Evangelical Environmental Network: Resource Page
The online resource page for the Evangelical Environmental Network (EEN) offers many helpful resources for clergy and lay persons looking to engage their faith with care of the environment.
This page gives introductory resources for those entering the conversation as well as practical implementation of creation care. Sermon starters and devotionals provide links for personal or community consideration of scripture and environment. It also links to books recommended by the EEN in Creation Care, Food and Food Policy, National Parks and Public Lands, Sustainable Business, and Children’s books. This section of the page may be especially useful for those looking to do a book study in creation care.
Click here to be directed to the EEN’s resource page.
Christian Concern for One World: Praying in Times of Extreme Weather
Christian Concern for One World has created a gathering of prayer points and links to online prayer material in the event of extreme weather. It includes material that can be used by those directly affected or by those praying for them. Click here to read more.