Climate Change, Ecology, Environment

Review: Dana Friis-Hansen, editor, Alexis Rockman: The Great Lakes Cycle

[1] At Field Elementary School in South Minneapolis, I learned and memorized the names of all of the Great Lakes. I knew from maps that one of the Great Lakes bordered Minnesota, and while my father, uncles and grandfather took me fishing all over Minnesota and western Wisconsin, I didn’t see Lake Superior until I […]

Review: The Photo Ark, Vanishing: The World’s Most Vulnerable Animals, by Joel Sartore

0 [1] “Do what you love” was Joel Sartore’s message to the Ralston High School graduating Class of 2000.  As a graduate of Ralston High himself, Sartore had returned to share his story about the importance and joy of following one’s dream.  By that time, Sartore was already a National Geographic photographer, so one could imagine that the spark to create […]

Review: The End of Ice and The Uninhabitable Earth

“How to face up—theologically—to climate change? And in particular, how to interpret the literature which deploys science to predict the Anthropocene future of our species? Two Biblical terms come to mind: “spirit” and “apocalyptic”. “Spirit” is that aspect of our whole selves which, in Reinhold Niebuhr’s concise formula, has the capacity of indefinite transcendence (The Nature and Destiny of Man, I:13). It is our capacity to reach for, and understand, the whole by which we are enlivened—or crushed. While our bodies will be overheated by rising temperatures, battered by storms, drowned by floods, and scorched by wildfires, it is our spirits which yearn to grasp the totality of what climate change means for us.”

Review: The Violence of Climate Change: Lessons of Resistance from Non-Violent Activists

The Violence of Climate Change: Lessons of Resistance from Non-Violent Activists by Kevin J. O’Brien || Kevin O’Brien’s rich and stimulating new book The Violence of Climate Change: Lessons of Resistance from Non-Violent Activists evokes the North-American Christian tradition of non-violent activism as a resource for resisting the destruction and suffering brought about by climate change. How might the commitment, courage and ingenuity of iconic non-violent activists such as John Woolman, Jane Adams, Dorothy Day, Martin Luther King Jr., and Cesar Chavez help us achieve climate justice? Writing in a lucid, compelling style, O’Brien directs his book mainly at concerned people of relative privilege who feel defeated by the complexity of climate change, yet realize that they are contributing to destruction and suffering by simply living their day to day lives.

Review: Coming Home to Earth (Cascade Books, 2016)

Coming Home to Earth by Mark Brocker || In Coming Home to Earth, Mark Brocker, current President of the International Bonhoeffer Society (English Language Section), offers a profound reflection on a theology of the religious affections and seeks to reorient how we see and love the Earth community. Brocker argues persuasively that our time of deep ecological crisis requires not only a reorientation, but also a “paradigm shift” in Christian theological reflection with a radical revisioning of the theology of salvation (79). Written in a clear, engaging, compelling, pastoral, and, at times, deeply personal and passionate style, the book is clearly intended for a wide audience and can be recommended for use in congregations and college classes. Yet even experts in Lutheran ethics will appreciate Brocker’s theological contributions.

Review: Love in a Time of Climate Change: Honoring Creation, Establishing Justice (Fortress Press, 2017)

Asked to review Sharon Delgado’s Love in a Time of Climate Change, I was not impressed when flipping through it for the first time. The usual politically progressive boxes seem to have been checked off: Biblical interpretation centering on creation themes, catalogues of the scary impacts of climate change, an indictment of the fossil-fuel industry and western economic development generally, a sacramental view of nature, a celebration of indigenous wisdom, and of course, copious suggestions for action, both personal and political. Delgado appears to be ringing the expected changes for an audience she knows well from her decades of activism. But I wondered if there is anything to set her book apart as a noteworthy contribution to the budding ethics literature on climate change?

Review: Creation-Crisis Preaching: Ecology, Theology, and the Pulpit (Chalice Press, 2015)

[1] I came to this book as a preacher with a fully awakened understanding that the Earth is in crisis and a partially awakened sense that the Church’s way of speaking about Creation (Dr. Schade argues for capitalizing the word) is in need of reform. What I was looking for in Schade’s book was some […]

Review: Earth Ethics: A Case Method Approach (Orbis Books, 2015)

[1] Understanding the complexities of socio-environmental ethics is a daunting task. Even the most dedicated eco-ethicist is hard-pressed to have a comprehensive command of the facts and figures of the issues competing for our attention. This is why Earth Ethics: A Case Method Approach is such a vital addition to the library of any professor, […]

De-Mythologizing the Myth of Economism

Economism is a myth that requires demythologizing. Economist and ecologist Richard Norgaard insightfully describes economism as a secular religion at whose altar American society and many other societies worship. Economism is the free-market ideology that has so imprisoned the American mind that it can no longer address the urgent matter of climate change. Economism is an idolatrous religion that is leading the planet to destruction. This article augments Norgaard’s treatment of economism by calling it a myth and then offering a prophetic critique in the form of demythologizing, or better, demythicizing. Only by demythologizing the myth of economism can the church speak to the larger society’s responsibility to care for the poor and the planet in light of a vision of the common good.

Editor’s Introduction: Facing Climate Change

The prognosis for our planet is deeply troubling. Already we are witnessing such drastic events as roads melting and people dying under the scorching heat of the summer, droughts killing crops and drying up streams and other sources of potable water, monster storms relentlessly buffeting islands in the Caribbean and the Pacific, and blizzards dropping record breaking amounts of snow through out the North American continent. Things are not looking good for the prospects of life as we know it, and especially human life, in this blue planet that we call home. What is the church called to do in the midst of such overwhelming circumstances? Is there a word of hope, of credible hope, that the church can speak to our dying world?