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Foremost religious leaders from diverse faith communities respond to the most controversial question of our time: Can we save the earth? The answer could hinge on the phenomenon of the fast-growing interfaith religious environmental movement. The author makes the case for environmental stewardship that cuts across old divisions of faith and politics. She presents 20 fellow religious leaders and eminent scholars (from rabbis to evangelicals to Catholics, Muslims and Buddhists) each contributing an original ...
Foremost religious leaders from diverse faith communities respond to the most controversial question of our time: Can we save the earth? The answer could hinge on the phenomenon of the fast-growing interfaith religious environmental movement. The author makes the case for environmental stewardship that cuts across old divisions of faith and politics. She presents 20 fellow religious leaders and eminent scholars (from rabbis to evangelicals to Catholics, Muslims and Buddhists) each contributing an original essay-chapter, with personal stories of awakening to the urgent need for environmental awareness and action. From all parts of the religious and political spectrum, they come together to tell why caring for the earth is a spiritual mandate, giving chapter and verse and offering plans of action that go beyond the walls of religious congregations and out into the broader community.
Introduction The Rev. Canon Sally G. Bingham i
Chapter 1 What If? The Rev. Richard Cizik 1
Chapter 2 The Greater Sacrifice The Rev. Fred Small 11
Chapter 3 Building Creation on a Firm Foundation The Rev. Pat Watkins 19
Chapter 4 Reaching into History and Finding the Future Rabbi Andrea Cohen-Kiener Jewish Renewal 31
Chapter 5 From Southern Fried Guilt to Spiritual Responsibility The Rev. Jim Deming 41
Chapter 6 Faith in Place The Rev. Dr. Clare Butterfield 51
Chapter 7 The Road to Green The Rev. Woody Bartlett 61
Chapter 8 Our True Nature: the Islamic Concept of Fitra and Healing the Connection to the Child Within Mohamad A. Chakaki 71
Chapter 9 Loving Your Neighbor and Embracing Conflict The Rev. Dr. Joel Hunter 81
Chapter 10 One-Night Stands vs. Sustainable Change Rabbi Daniel Swartz 91
Chapter 11 Love All Ways Sr. Paula Gonzalez 101
Chapter 12 Call and Response: Resonance of Awakening to Global Warming (a Buddhist Perspective) Linda Ruth Cutts 111
Chapter 13 Anecdotes from an Eco-Jihadist Imam Achmat Salie 121
Chapter 14 Creation Care in a Carbon-Constrained World (a view from a Catholic parish priest) The Rev. Charles Morris 133
Chapter 15 Let There Be Light The Rev. Dr. Gerald L. Durley 145
Chapter 16 I Believe Three Things The Rev. Fletcher Harper 153
Chapter 17 Greening Our Seminaries Laurel Kearns 167
Chapter 18 On Our Way Home Sr. Pat Nagle 181
Chapter 19 Renewing Hope Mary Evelyn Tucker 191
Chapter 20 A Monastery Cairn Sr. Gail Worcelo 203
Afterword: Who, If Not Us? Looking Ahead The Rev. Canon Sally G. Bingham 207
About the Chapter Contributors 215
Posted July 1, 2012
Love God Heal Earth is a compilation of essays, from leaders of 11 religions and denominations, that delve into the religious call for a transition to a sustainable way of life. While not devoid of science, this book presents a deeply spiritual, personal, and hopeful message that moves beyond the intellectual reality of global climate change. In other words, it is a powerful complement to the grim facts of An Inconvenient Truth.
Rev. Bingham assembled the author list from among her contacts in the network of state-level Interfaith Power and Light organizations, of which her California group was the first (and her Regeneration Project is the "umbrella"). These authors are all active in promoting a lower impact way of life, in teaching about climate change, and in encouraging an ethic of "creation care." They come from diverse backgrounds, representing Buddhism, Christianity (in multiple forms), Islam, Judaism, and Unitarianism. But their diversity is more than just religious. One of the most striking aspects to this book is seeing how these authors navigated from the traditional cares of their communities, which tend to see conservation as at best someone else's job, into the field of creation care.
In that regard, I was particularly inspired by Rev. Dr. Gerald Durley, pastor of the Providence Missionary Baptist Church in Atlanta. He describes how his passion for racial justice in America was suddenly transformed into an awareness of ecological impacts on communities – an awareness of eco-justice. "The light is on and it must continue to shine in all of our lives, to let us see that most living things are being harmed because we are not aware nor globally concerned about what it will take to save the environment," Rev. Durley writes. My copy of the book is riddled with little pink sticky notes. His chapter has none, because there was nothing I wanted to single out. It is an entire essay I will return to often.
Those sticky notes mark out dozens of resources, ideas, and inspiring passages. These will be of great help to anyone wishing to engage in religiously-motivated action for the betterment of the planet. That action might be in the form of political activism, or of intra-denominational or ecumenical eco-theology. You will find inspiration here. If you find yourself wanting to change more than just light bulbs (although that is a good start), you will find inspiration. If your wish is to envision a life less-mired in materialism, or one that steps boldly beyond the critics on left (anti-religion) and right (anti-environmentalism), then you too will find a muse.
In closing this review, I share a passage from the Rev. Jim Deming, United Church of Christ, Nashville, TN (p 49), which leaves me with a feeling of realism, but also of hope.
"There will be times of backsliding and confession, but there will also be times of grace and insight that are God's reward for doing justice, loving kindness, and walking humbly with our God. Let us humbly invite our neighbor and walk humbly to the future together."
Review of Love God Heal Earth: 21 Leading Religious Voices Speak Out on Our Sacred Duty to Protect the Environment, by Rev. Canon Sally G. Bingham et al. Published in 2009 by St. Lynn's Press, Pittsburgh, PA. No goods or services were received in return for this review.