Archives For Environment


In honor of Women’s History Month, here are 10 important social critics of the last 100 years. The work of social critics is vital for the health and flourishing of the church, because they remind us of the brokenness of the world and challenge us to imagine new and more healthy ways of sharing life together.


Here are ten women social critics whose work has been particularly helpful for me in trying to discern how to live faithfully in the twenty-first century. With each critic, I’ve included an excerpt that will serve as an introduction to that writer’s work.


Dorothy Day

The co-founder of the Catholic Worker movement, lived among the poor and was staunch anti-war activist.

*** [easyazon_link keywords=”Dorothy Day” locale=”US” tag=”douloschristo-20″]Books by Dorothy Day[/easyazon_link]

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Pope Francis


Yesterday saw the release of the English translation of Pope Francis’s Encyclical:

Laudato Si: On Care for our Common Home.

We encourage you to download the PDF of this encyclical and read it yourself.


Here are two lovely prayers that were included in the encyclical…
Perhaps you can find ways to use these prayers in the life of your church.


A prayer for our earth
Pope Francis

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Part of the Weather
and Part of the Climate and Part of the Place

A review of
The Environmental Vision
of Thomas Merton.

(Culture of the Land Series)
by Monica Weis, SSJ.

Review by Brent Aldrich.

The Environmental Vision
of Thomas Merton.

(Culture of the Land Series)
Monica Weis, SSJ.
Hardback: UP of Kentucky, 2011.
Buy now:
[ Amazon – Hardback ]
[ Amazon – Kindle ]

It might come as no surprise that Thomas Merton, the Trappist monk well-respected for his broad-reaching writing about social justice, contemplation and spiritual disciplines, peace, interfaith dialogues, etc., would also have something to say about another pressing issue of our day, ecological responsibility. Monica Weis’s new book, The Environmental Vision of Thomas Merton, part of the University Press of Kentucky’s Culture of the Land series, does, in fact, present Merton as a sensitive contributor to the nascent environmental movement, but does so in light of the rest of his monastic life: deeply incarnational; aware of the interconnectedness of all of creation; and firmly grounded in the particular landscape of his place, namely the woods and hills of northern Kentucky. Interestingly, Weis frames much of Merton’s ‘environmental vision’ around a letter he wrote to none other than Rachel Carson, after his reading of Silent Spring; this same book is often credited with propelling the modern-day environmental movement, as well as leading to the establishment of the EPA, so it’s telling that Merton – already sensitized so as to be receptive to Carson’s book – would recognize the significance of Silent Spring.

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Just got our review copy of this book in the mail today, and it looks like a lot of fun!

Watch for our review in the near future:

Moby-Duck: The True Story of 28,800 Bath Toys Lost at Sea
and of the Beachcombers, Oceanographers, Environmentalists,
and Fools, Including the Author, Who Went in Search of Them
Donovan Hohn.
Hardback: Viking, 2011.
Buy now: [ Amazon: Hardback ] [ Amazon: Kindle


“To Know (and Navigate) A Place

A review of
The Natural Navigator:
A Watchful Explorer’s Guide to a Nearly Forgotten Skill

By Tristan Gooley.

Reviewed by Sam Edgin.

The Natural Navigator - Tristan GooleyThe Natural Navigator:
A Watchful Explorer’s Guide to a Nearly Forgotten Skill

Tristan Gooley.

Hardback: The Experiment, 2011.
Buy now: [ Amazon ]

Humanity must navigate. We must, many times a day, get to there from here. Most don’t bother to question how exactly that is done. Our tools do it for us. Terrain is not a question, weather rarely is a factor, and night is the same as day. Navigation today is mindless, sterile and virtually impossible without the many tools at our disposal. Tristan Gooley’s The Natural Navigator is meant to lead the modern, adventure-prone (or even just work-aimed) man or woman to make their way through any environment using simply what surrounds them.

The book’s subtitle says it even better: “A Watchful Explorer’s Guide to a Nearly Forgotten Skill.” The information Gooley includes is not new by any means. It is what was used thousands of years ago before the invention of the compass, the sextant, wristwatches and GPS. Gooley wants his readers to be able to “know” direction instead of “finding” it. Sure, he admits, an untrained individual would have little problem left on their own if pointed in a direction with a goal to reach, but they would still be “unconnected from the environment.” It is this connection with the environment, the assurance that all of the tools we might need to navigate anywhere on earth are right before us, that Gooley is trying to create with this book. It seems there are few better men to do that.

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“Concretized, Identifiable, Specific Locales

A review of
Land and Environmental Art.

Jeffrey Kastner and Brian Wallis, eds

Reviewed by Brent Aldrich.

Land and Environmental Art.
Jeffrey Kastner and Brian Wallis, eds.
Paperback: Phaidon (New, Abridged Edition), 2010.

Buy now: [ Amazon ]

“We should begin to develop an art education based on relationships to specific sites. How we see things and places is not secondary, but primary.” — Robert Smithson

LAND AND ENVIRONMENTAL ART  -  PhaidonWriting in 1972, artist Robert Smithson is here specifically proposing his art practice for reclaiming an Ohio strip mine. Smithson’s work in the late 60’s and early 70’s, along with artists such as Nancy Holt, Michael Heizer, Dennis Oppenheim and Robert Morris, was the start of a trend in art, later to be called by many names including Earth Art or Land Art. The practices of these artists happened out of doors and galleries, related to particular places, and used naturally-occurring processes and materials to inform the content and form of their work. Since these earthworks of the 60’s, a variety of artists have taken up work that deals directly with land, and the cultural practices that inform it; these works are brought together in a new edition of Land and Environmental Art, edited by Jeffrey Kastner and Brian Wallis, in which they “[intend] to expand, rather than circumscribe, traditional definitions of the genre.”

Many of the artworks included in this anthology have become touchstones for me in imagining new understandings of our relationship to the land and to particular places; as art practices, they suggest that bound up in any of our ideas about ‘nature’ are also cultural practices. Robert Smithson’s Non-Sites, geometric minimalist forms containing rocks or dirt that relate back to specific locations; Ana Mendieta’s Silueta sculptures and photographs, in which she fashions the shape of her body into the land with the materials at hand – mud, sand, grass, snow; Hans Haacke’s Grass Grows and Ten Turtles Set Free, both of which are just what they sound like; Andy Goldsworthy’s delicate and inherently placed sculptures of leaves, rocks, sticks, or ice; all included in this volume, are all helpful in considering current questions about the land.

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An excerpt from:

Eaarth: Making a Life on a Tough New Planet.
Bill McKibben.
Hardback: Times Books, 2010.
Buy now:  [ Amazon ]

Watch for our review of this excellent book in next week’s issue!


320364: Green Mama: The Guilt-Free Guide to Helping You and Your Kids Save the Planet A Brief Review of

Green Mama:
The Guilt-Free Guide to Helping You and Your Kids Save the Planet

By Tracey Bianchi
Paperback: Zondervan, 2010.

Buy now: [ ]

Reviewed by Jeni Newswanger-Smith.

It’s hardly a secret that evangelical Christians have arrived late to eco-awareness and environmental protection.   Thankfully, more and more of us have embraced care of creation as part of our God-given responsibility; a way to work, quite literally, for the Kingdom of God.  In her book Green Mama, Tracey Bianchi offers multiple ways to incorporate better care of the environment into our everyday lives.  She supports her information with solid research and softens the fear with compassion and understanding for those who might not be ready to make big steps, yet.

Bianchi, herself a mother of 3 young children, understands some of these facts and some of the research she writes about can become overwhelming.  She encourages the reader to avoid compassion fatigue, both in oneself and in thrusting it upon our children.

Bianchi addresses a wide range of topics, from teaching one’s children to simply love the earth by learning about local animals and habitats to ways in which less chemical-laden products can be used to clean our homes.  She isn’t naïve, she knows all these things may be super overwhelming for the newly convicted, and she repeated advises the reader to pick just one or two things to change at a time, in order to avoid giving up. At the end of each chapter, Bianchi suggests some ways to evaluate your current choices and then make minor changes (e.g., shorter showers, reusable water bottles, reading labels thoroughly, buying more organic produce).

Bianchi offers many way to further your own research, through other books as well as online resources.  Each chapter includes multiple additional resources (websites and books).  Her “Green Mama Guide” at the back of the book is an additional easy way to find out more information.

Overall, Green Mama is an invaluable resource for people beginning to explore how to take seriously God’s command to care for creation.  It would also work well as a check point for people who may have gotten bogged down on the journey.


“An Ecological Framework for Theology.”

A Review of
For the Beauty of the Earth:
A Christian Vision for Creation Care
By Steven Bouma-Prediger.

Reviewed by Chase Roden.

For the Beauty of the Earth:
A Christian Vision for Creation Care
Steven Bouma-Prediger.
Paperback: Baker, 2010 (2nd Edition).
Buy now: [ ]

For the Beauty of the Earth - Bouma-PredigerAmerican Christians have a complex relationship with the environment. For some, our natural surroundings are always in mind and at heart; these believers see the earth as a source of inspiration and sustenance to be guarded carefully – inherently worthy of respect, proof of the goodness of God. For others, the earth is important only as a God-given resource to be used – its value always to be secondary to spiritual concerns. In the latter group, “environmentalist” is often a dirty word, an example of modern-day idolatry and subservience to a certain political agenda. Tensions between these perspectives have never been clearer than right now, in the wake of the Deepwater Horizon explosion and oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. The environment is once again on everybody’s minds, and even those environmentally-skeptical Christians are asking questions about our care of the world.

It is into this fray that publisher Baker Academic presciently released the second edition of For the Beauty of the Earth: A Christian Vision for Creation Care. In this update of the 2001 original, Dr. Steven Bouma-Prediger of Hope College presents his unapologetic argument for Christian responsibility for the earth.
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University Press of Kentucky has just released the excellent book

Wendell Berry: Life and Work.
Jason Peters, ed.

in a new, affordable paperback edition!

[ Buy the paperback edition on ]

Read an excerpt from this superb book: