A few years ago, the Creation Care section of my bookshelf was pretty small – and I knew almost every one of the authors! Things have changed a lot: that section now covers several shelves, and I am discovering new books worth looking at every day. Here are three that recently came to my attention that might be worth your time… (Do keep in mind that we do not necessarily agree with every opinion of every author we bring to your attention!)
Creating Shared Resilience by David Boan and Josh Ayers. Boan is Director of Relief and Development at the WEA, has considerable experience in development, a heart for creation care, a concern about climate change and other environmental issues, and a deep love of the church. This background comes through in this well-written and researched book. Ayers is the Senior Risk and Resilience Advisor for Food for the Hungry and has worked on the role of local faith communities in reducing risk and enhancing resilience of the world’s most vulnerable to climate-related hazards in Africa, Asia, and Latin America.
“The development community is increasingly aware of tensions and challenges inherent in relief work – and the need for sustainable solutions for communities experiencing poverty and crisis. How can the local church help to create and maintain such resilient communities? Boan and Ayers utilize their extensive experience working within the humanitarian sector, and in cooperation with local churches, to examine the evidence for effective partnerships between development agencies and local faith communities. The authors provide practical guidance on how church leaders can forge stronger relationships with NGOs, donors, and government while reinforcing, rather than compromising, the unique calling of the church.“
Ecology and the Bible by Frederic Baudin (Hendrickson), translated from French and released by Hendrickson this summer. Baudin serves as the executive director of the organization CEM (which promotes social justice and Christian values in the areas of culture, the environment, and the media) and is a founding member of the French chapter of “A Rocha” (an organization dedicated to the protection of the environment from a Christian perspective). In addition, he provides training on sustainable development in francophone Africa, Madagascar, Haiti, and India. Baudin was vice president of the French Evangelical Alliance from 2000 to 2010, and he currently serves as a pastor in the Union of Evangelical Free Churches.
This book offers Christian laypeople a brief and accessible perspective on what the Bible teaches about ecology and about Christians’ responsibility to care for the environment. The book situates these subjects within the framework of the Bible’s overarching teachings about creation, fall, redemption, and new creation.
The author also explores his theme by examining relevant scientific and historical data, as well as by discussing the history of philosophy and theology.
The book’s chapters and subsections are brief, making the discussion easy to follow, and the volume ends with practical tips for how people of faith can care for the environment in their daily lives.
God’s Wounded World: American Evangelicals and the Challenge of Environmentalism by Melanie Gish (Baylor University Press). This academy oriented book came out of Ms. Gish’s Ph D thesis (Heidelberg). It is being released this month, so we haven’t actually seen it yet, but we are told you will find a number of familiar names reviewed in its chapters. American evangelicals who care about God’s creation are apparently a species worth examining.
In God’s Wounded World, Melanie Gish analyzes the evolution of evangelical environmental advocacy in the United States. Drawing on qualitative interviews, organizational documents, and other texts, her interdisciplinary approach focuses on the work of evangelical environmental organizations and the motivations of the individuals who created them. Gish contrasts creation care with mainstream environmentalism on the one side, and organized evangelical environmental skepticism on the other. The religiopolitical space evangelical environmental leaders have established “in-between but still within” is carefully explored, with close attention to the larger historical context as well as to creation care’s political opportunities and intraevangelical challenges.
The nuanced portrait that emerges defies simple distinctions. Not only are creation care leaders wrestling with questions of environmental degradation and engagement, they also must grapple with what it means to be evangelical and live faithfully in both present-day America and the global community. As Gish reveals, creation care advocates’ answers to these questions place moral responsibility and cultural mediation above ideology and dogmatic certainty. Such a posture risks political irrelevance in our hyperpartisan and combative political culture, but if it succeeds it could transform the creation care movement into a powerful advocate for a more accommodating and holistically oriented Evangelicalism.