Category Archives: God

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…”

http://blog.arocha.org/en/climate-theology/

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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Get ready: the river is rising

We have several goals for and overlapping audiences among the readers of Our Father’s World. Sometimes we want to inform you with up to date and accurate reporting of the status of God’s creation. Our occasional pieces on the fate of the monarch butterfly are an example of that. Sometimes we seek to persuade you, if you need persuasion, that there are serious problems and complacency is not an option. And sometimes we are just trying to share with you our own experiences and viewpoints as we, like you, struggle to figure out how to live lightly in a world that has been damaged by our lifestyle.

This post is different. Many of our readers are working, full-time or part-time or as volunteers, in the field of creation care. I’ve been doing this work for 15 years, and there are many who have been at it much longer than that. This “ministry”, for that is really what it is, can be lonely and discouraging. So much evidence of trouble, so many years of teaching, so little response.   So consider this a bit like a pastoral letter to those of us who have given our lives to this work, and occasionally need to be reminded of why we’re doing what we’re doing. Continue reading

Care About the poor? Care about creation!

Bob Lupton, founder of FCS Ministries, Atlanta, GA.
Bob Lupton, founder of FCS Ministries, Atlanta, GA.

Why should we care about creation? Why should we care about the poor? I suspect you can think of many reasons on your own.   I want to stimulate your thinking with some reasons by Bob Lupton of FCS Ministries.  Over many years I have admired him from afar for his writings inspired by deep work with the poor in urban Atlanta.  He agreed to let me share his blog post, “The Poor Are Always With You” below.  Bob makes a wonderfully faithful case that God calls us to  care for the poor not in the spiritual or the abstract but in the physical and the concrete, not as disembodied souls but as bodies in creation.

As you read, I invite you to reflect further on the intertwining nature of these concerns.  I hope you come to appreciate that each encourages the other.   If we care about and for the poor as God invites, we will want to care about and for creation.  If we care about and for creation, we will want to care about and for the poor.  And just as there will always be a place for compassion, generosity and thoughtfulness towards the poor, there will also be such a place for those attitudes towards creation.    Continue reading