Category Archives: God

MLK, Jr’s Life and Words Challenge All To Pursue Justice – Racial, Economic, Environmental

Martin LUther King, Jr's quote suggests his vision that all the world and its occupants are interconnected.
Martin Luther King, Jr’s quote suggests his vision that all the world and its occupants are interconnected.

Last year, immediately after the 45th President’s inauguration January 20, 2017, people of faith in Madison, WI joined with multitudes around the country. They participated in prayer vigil events over the course of the first 100 Hours of the new presidency.  They implored God to guide the new administration to “Keep Good Faith On Our Climate Commitments.” Prayerful reflection and thoughtful exhortation aptly drew from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s words, life and spirit. People gathered in the shadow of his birthday and holiday as well as on the near eve of Black History Month. As then, so again now, the words offered up by Rev. Nick Utphall drew from Rev. King to speak timely truth to power and encouragement to those laboring for justice – racial, environmental, and economic.  Despite disappointing progress and discouraging regress, God calls us to faithfully persevere NOW:

A lot depends on perspective in these days, and so depending on your perspective, you might find it either a fitting coincidence or grotesquely ironic that this week ending in inauguration began with the observance of Martin Luther King day.

Whether good or ill, I’ve been considering the Rev. King’s words and example amid this moment. There are, again, things both more and less helpful.

Less helpful to me feels that grand reassurance oft repeated by Rev. King, that the arc of the moral universe is long but that it bends toward justice. Overall, I have that hope Continue reading

Guest Post – What’s In A Name?

Oregon Zoo Education Curator, Grant Spickelmier, sheds light on why God tasked humans with naming creation.

Original post from Green Jesus, shared with permission.

Image result for hello my name is
– via –

When my son was two and half years old, he came to visit me at work. He was pretty excited because I am employed by one of the most kid-friendly workplaces in the world … the zoo!

After lunch, we walked through the tropics building to visit some of his favorite animals including the sun bears and the Komodo dragon. Next, we walked past a black and white animal with a stout body and a long nose. A woman standing nearby explained to her toddler, “Look honey, that’s an anteater.” My son tightened his grip on my hand and said “No!” He looked at the woman and corrected her loudly “No! That’s a tapir!” While slightly embarrassed, I felt a flash of pride sweep through me as I thought, “That’s my boy!” Continue reading

A Rocha’s Dave Bookless on Climate Theology: Why does this divide us?

“In the end it’s about theology. Is Christianity a purely spiritual battle or does it impact how we treat the earth and the poorest? Which matters more to God, economic and individual libertarianism or justice and the integrity of God’s creation? What biblical themes and passages have relevance to an issue that simply wasn’t in the thinking of people in biblical times? In the rest of this brief blog I want to look at a few questions often raised by Christians who oppose involvement in climate action…”

I will serve my God’s Creation

By Luke Baine, board member of Care of Creation.  Luke, his wife Katie, and their dog live in Tennessee. 

from left to right: Care of Creation Director Ed Brown, Professor Emeritus Dr. Calvin DeWitt, and Care of Creation board member Luke Baine.
from left to right: Care of Creation Director Ed Brown, Professor Emeritus Dr. Calvin DeWitt, and Care of Creation board member Luke Baine.

It has been an honor to be a supporter of and involved with Care of Creation for the past few years. This past weekend they celebrated 10 years of service to God’s Kingdom. Care of Creation is an organization that loves the Lord and seeks to do His will by serving His Creation. This means both fishing for men and cleaning the tank!

crowd in sanctuary
Thank you to all the friends and partners of Care of Creation who were able to celebrate with us.

It was great to see the Staff who work tirelessly day to day and their fearless leader, Ed Brown. It was also encouraging to mingle among the many supporters who braved a perfect spring evening in Madison to celebrate 10 years of environmental missions and listen to the modern day father of Christian environmentalism, Cal DeWitt. As the sun set over Lake Mendota we were treated to videos from the two missionary families serving abroad, Craig & Tracy Sorely and Erik & Rachel Ness. Both families have experienced their share of struggle and success. It was a joy to learn more about their service to the Lord and His Creation. Cal then began to speak about how he came to be involved in environmental stewardship, and how we are called to “con” serve the Creation of our Father. He challenged us to serve the garden as we serve the Lord.

I believe that “Creation Care” is as much a secular issue as a Christian one. However, to call yourself a Christian, a Disciple of Jesus Christ, and to be filled with the Holy Spirit means that you are called to serve God, His Will, and His Creation. This means that environmental issues our planet is facing are every Christian’s responsibility. It is not about being preachy or feeling morally superior but humbly loving and serving God’s Creation.

ed, stacey, susanna
Stacey Gluck receives an award for her and her husband Fredric for their sacrificial service and dedication to the mission of Care of Creation.

My wife and I had a wonderful time in beautiful Madison, WI. Many thanks to Ed & Susanna Brown, Stacey & Fred Gluck, Brittany Ederer, Andrea Ebley, David Fine, and Kermit Hovey for putting on a wonderful evening.

With service, I look forward to the next 10 years of Care of Creation!

The Examen and the Earth

Guest post by Lowell Bliss.

This bench looks like the perfect spot for an examen, a prayerful review of one’s conscience and day. CC Licensed photo.

The Lenten season has come and gone, but the ancient spiritual practice of Examen is certainly not limited to a specific forty days of the liturgical year.  There is great health, we are taught, in regularly lifting our consciences up to the Holy Spirit with the prayer: “Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me and know my anxious thoughts;” (Ps 139:23).

Recently I’ve encountered two proposals for The Examen which involve an ecological twist.  The first is in a book, The Light is On For You, by Cardinal Donald Wuerl, Archbishop of Washington.  The book is a heartfelt appeal for Catholics to re-embrace the Sacrament of Reconciliation, the sweet freedom of absolution received in “going to confession.” Appendix D is a longer, quite systematic, examination of conscience and has been formulated anew by U.S. bishops.  Cardinal Wuerl also includes a section for “Examination of Conscience based on Catholic Social Teaching.”  Among questions derived from “Life and Dignity of the Human Person” or “Option for the Poor and Vulnerable” are these four suggested questions for “Care of God’s Creation:”

  • Do I live out my responsibility to care for God’s creation?
  • Do I see my care for creation as connected to my concern for poor persons, who are most at risk from environmental problems?
  • Do I litter?  Live wastefully? Use energy too freely?  Are there ways I could reduce consumption in my life?
  • Are there ways I could change my daily practices and those of my family, school, workplace, or community to better conserve the earth’s resources for future generation?

St. Ignatius Loyola is perhaps most associated with the Examen as a discipline, and in the Ignatian Exercises, examen is more than just documentary prep work for a visit to the confessional.  Jesuit writers speak of it as “a method of reviewing your day in the presence of God. It’s actually an attitude more than a method, a time set aside for thankful reflection on where God is in your everyday life.”  Jim Manney in A Simple Life-Changing Prayer has formulated these modern five-steps:

  1. Ask God for light: I want to look at my day with God’s eyes, not merely my own.
  2. Give thanks: The day I have just lived is a gift from God.  Be grateful for it.
  3. Review the day: I carefully look back on the day just completed, being guided by the Holy Spirit.
  4. Face your shortcomings: I face up to what is wrong—in my life and in me.
  5. Look toward the day to come: I ask where I need God in the day to come.

And then here is how Joseph Carver S.J. has brought this exercise to bear on creation care:

  • All creation reflects the beauty and blessing of God’s image. Where was I most aware of this today?
  • Can I identify and pinpoint how I made a conscious effort to care for God’s creation during this day?
  • What challenges or joys do I experience as I recall my care for creation?
  • How can I repair breaks in my relationship with creation, in my unspoken sense of superiority?
  • As I imagine tomorrow, I ask for the grace to see the Incarnate Christ in the dynamic interconnections of all Creation.
What have I planted and watered today?  CC Licensed photo.
What have I planted and watered today? CC Licensed photo.

While this blog post is reproducing list, here’s one final one of my own: “What I, as an evangelical Protestant, like about this discovery of not one, but two, ecologically oriented examens:

  1. I like that creation care can be more than just a part of my ministry (and certainly more than just of my hobbies).  I like that creation care can touch upon my spirituality, my walk with God.
  2. I like that creation care can be more than just a part of my ministry (and certainly more than just of my hobbies). I like that creation care can touch upon my spirituality, my walk with God.
  3. I like that violations of creation care are taken seriously enough to rise to the level of sin requiring confession and transformed lifestyle.
  4. I like that a Christian of Cardinal Wuerl’s stature has adopted the language of creation care. We are singing the same tune in the same key, even using the same words.
  5. It makes me excited for Pope Francis’s upcoming encyclical on the care of creation, due to be issued in June or July.

Lowell Bliss is the director of Eden Vigil and the author of Environmental Missions: Planting Churches and Trees. He lives with his wife Robynn and three kids.

After winter, spring… After despair, hope: An Easter Devotional

Tulip tip in springtime
An early sign of spring.

I’ve just come in from a walk around our office’s neighborhood.  Even though winter is technically over, the landscape is brown and dead.  There are no leaves on the trees.  There are no leaves on the bushes.  Flower beds are empty, some still covered with winter mulch.  If you dropped in from, say, Florida, your reaction might well be, “Why do you guys live in a place like this?  It feels so… dead!”

But it isn’t winter any more.  The air is warm.  Those bare branches are teeming with birds whose songs seem even louder in the stark, brown landscape.  And if you know where to look, you can see buds on trees and bushes getting ready to explode with new green leaves, and pointed green sprouts in otherwise dead flower beds.  It isn’t quite spring, but it isn’t winter any more – and we, having lived through another long, cold Wisconsin winter, breathe deep and rejoice.
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