“Will We Recover Our Responsibility for God’s Creation?” is the final essay in a larger intergenerational conversation on a twenty-first century faith. The Future of Our Faith: An Intergenerational Conversation on Critical Issues Facing the Church is a work by Ben Lowe and Ronald J. Sider working to bridge the divide between generations. They recognize the “inter-generational tension” present within the church, and in this work, they welcome each other into conversation. They each present four essays on major issues facing the church with responses from the other.
The final issue addressed in the book is our care for creation. Both from evangelical backgrounds both Lowe and Sider are advocates for creation care. Lowe raises the issue and first acknowledges the indifference, dismissal, and occasionally aggression he has received in congregations when he has breeched the call of care for creation. They reclaim an evangelical theology which calls believers to be stewards of a creation divinely gifted to a broken humanity.
For many Christian congregations and communities, especially ones who identify as evangelical, this book provides a platform on which to have one’s own intergenerational conversation. In a time when generations are so polarized, this book does the hard work of being in Christian community and love with those generations which precede and follow us.
This book can be found on Amazon, major book retailers, and your favorite independent bookstore. More information on Ben Lowe can be found at his website here. To learn more about Ronald J. Sider click here to be taken to the Evangelicals for Social Action website.
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.)
Acclaimed public theologian, Diana Butler Bass’s 2015 book Grounded explores the connection of contemporary spirituality and nature. In opposition to many voices within the church who run in fear from the changing American spiritual landscape, Bass sees an invitation to participate in a spiritual revolution. Throughout the book, Bass deconstructs a vertical theology in which the divine is above and separate from humanity and the Earth and turns instead to an understanding of the divine’s immanence. She also recognizes the need for something stable in an age of change. She turns to the presence of the divine in dirt, water, and sky to find her own ground.
Bass recounts her conversation with a man who was a writer and farmer whose own experiences in close encounter with the ground had led him to a profound spirituality. In the chapter on water, Bass looks at current events and argues that water is vital to a flourishing spirituality. Bass gracefully reconciles the big bang theory with the book of Genesis in her chapter on sky. For the second half of the book, Bass considers more specific structures of human experience, finding the presence of the divine in roots, home, neighborhood, commons, and revelation.
This book is a bridge from a disconnected church and culture to an Earth created in beauty. Bass’s utilization of memoir contextualizes her theological analysis making it remarkably accessible. For those questioning where to turn in an unstable spiritual time, Bass offers a hopeful perspective that uplifts a twenty-first century faith firmly rooted in human experience of the natural world. The ecumenical approach found in this book makes it a wonderful choice for book groups across Christian denominations.
To be directed to Diana Butler Bass’s website click here.
Grounded and Bass’s other works can be found on ebook or in print through Amazon, other major booksellers, and your favorite independent bookstore.
In June 2014, the University of Dayton became the first Catholic university in the United States to announce their divestment from coal and fossil fuels. Members of the university staff see this move as part of the university’s commitment to “being a responsible steward of the Earth’s natural resources.” This decision was commended by the president of the Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities. Their decision was one inspired by faith reflection as well as a commitment to financial stability for the university.
Beyond divesting from coal and fossil fuels, the university has taken further steps to move their campus toward efficiency and sustainability. A signatory of the of The American College and University President’s Climate Commitment (ACU PCC) and a member of other sustainability committees, the university now has two full time employees who work to improve campus sustainability and offers academic programs in these areas as well.
The University of Dayton is also home to the Hanley Sustainability Institute.
Click here to be linked to The University of Dayton’s site on their efficiency and sustainability initiatives. Click here to be directed to the Hanley Institute homepage.
Young Minds Big Questions (YMBQ) describes itself as a podcast “about challenging Christians to wrestle through doubts, fears, and questions. We talk apologetics, theology, and philosophy.”
“Climate Change and Christianity – An Interview with Brian McLaren” was released on April 26, 2017 and is part one of a two part conversation on climate change and Christianity. Guest, Brian McLaren is an author, speaker, activist, and public theologian. His work as a pastor led him to begin writing, and he has published numerous books on faith and Christian life.
McLaren unpacks some of the science of global climate change, and its everyday effects for human life around the world. Looking at the dangers of a changing climate, McLaren turns to faith as the inspiration for advocacy and change. In his own words, “Ultimately, climate change is a spiritual matter.” McLaren attributes reluctance to accept or take action to prevent climate change in part to a certain kind of eschatology. He then goes on to discuss instances in which average congregations inspired by care for God’s world made real changes to combat climate change. The podcast concludes with McLaren’s own recommendations for any Christian wanting to learn more about creation care.
Find this episode of YMBQ on apple podcasts here, Youtube here, and on other podcast providers. For more information on Brian McLaren, click here to be directed to his personal website.
The Climate Witness Project is a campaign from the Office of Social Justice meant to walk with congregations as they learn about the realities of climate change and seek to be better stewards of the resources they have been given. This campaign was created because they believe there is growing moral consensus that climate change must be addressed immediately. The pope’s encyclical on climate change is a recent example of support for an immediate response that has developed in religious communities. To read more on this project, or to sign up, click here.
God ‘Making All Things New’ Doesn’t Mean Christians Can Ignore the Environment is an article written by Nancy Sleeth, the managing director for Blessed Earth. The article focuses on the best way to respond to tough questions Christians may have about creation care. To read the entire article, click here.
In 2009, the Archdiocese of Cincinnati signed on to the St. Francis Pledge to Care for Creation. Since then, they have started their own Climate Change Task Force. This task force has adopted the mission of committing themselves to work towards a sustainable world based off of the responsibility to Care for God’s Creation. They work to implement the five pillars of the pledge: praying, learning, assessing, acting, and advocating for the environment and the poor. To read about recent activities the Climate Change Task Force has engaged in, click here for a pdf guide. To learn more from their website and offered resources, click here.
Sojourners is a magazine that covers the intersection of faith, politics, and culture. They focus on social justice, life and peace, and environmental stewardship. Their topic of creation care encompasses stories on the ecological disruptions that affect the poor and vulnerable more than others. They strive to tell the stories of those who are most affected and keep the public updated on policy changes and sustainability advancements. To read these articles and other faith and culture related posts, click here.
When groups share a common cause, they can see past their differences to work towards a goal. This is what has been happening recently when it comes to conservatives and liberals. These two groups are bonding over caring for the earth in their own ways. To read about how this relationship is developing, read the full article here.