“Will We Recover Our Responsibility for God’s Creation?” by Ben Lowe and Ronald J Sider

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“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.

Caring for Creation: The Evangelical’s Guide… by Mitch Hescox and Paul Douglas

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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.

Simpler Living, Compassionate Life edited by Michael Schut

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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

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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.

Grounded by Diana Butler Bass

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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.

University of Dayton Divests from Fossil Fuels

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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.

Climate Justice and the Moral Obligation to God’s Creation

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Franciscan Action Network created the Climate Justice and the Moral Obligation to God’s Creation campaign as a way to act, quickly and powerfully, to change systems and laws towards climate justice. Their work focuses on breaking through polarized politics, being relationship-centered,  and being strategic and effective. To read more, click here.

Catholic Climate Covenant Earth DayVideo

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Catholic Climate Covenant has created a video to go with their Beyond  a Throwaway Culture Earth Day theme. The short video gives a brief explanation of the importance of protecting the planet and the problem of throwaway plastics. To watch the video, click here.

Reducing Waste and Moving Beyond a Throwaway Culture Webinar

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This hour-long webinar was created by Catholic Climate Covenant and Earth Day Network to address the exponential growth of plastics and how it is threatening the survival of our planet. Earth Day Network discusses the resources they offer to help end plastic pollution and their Earth Day campaign: A World Without Plastic Pollution. The webinar then discusses Catholic Climate Covenant’s program, Beyond a Throwaway Culture: Reduce Waste–Grow Community, and describes how faith communities can celebrate our common home on Earth Day and every day. To watch the Reducing Waste and Moving Beyond a Throwaway Culture Webinar, click here.

Catholic Climate Covenant: Earth Day 2018

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Catholic Climate Covenant has created their 2018 Earth Day with the theme of reducing waste. Titled Beyond a Throwaway Culture: Reduce Waste- Grow Community, the focus is on single-use disposable plastics and how they contribute to land and marine pollution. The program includes prayers, readings, actions, and a video. To read more or download the program, click here.