While Earth Day and Good Friday being on the same date this year was a relatively rare alignment, thankfully for many people the everyday companionship of religious belief and care for creation is becoming a given. Here are a few books that might inform your exploration of faith and the environment.
The April issue of Sojourners explores the critical problem of climate change, and how to respectfully talk about it with skeptics. Scientist Katharine Hayhoe is one of the writers who gently and wisely responds in our pages to the concerns of those who deny climate change is real. Hayhoe, along with her husband, evangelical pastor and writer Andrew Farley, wrote an excellent book a couple of years ago, A Climate for Change: Global Warming Facts for Faith-Based Decisions, which has just been released in paperback. In it, Hayhoe and Farley explore the science behind climate change and the faith-based reasons why Christians should act, all in an accessible way that reaches out to all Christians, even those with deep suspicions of climate science.
Natural Saints: How People of Faith Are Working to Save God’s Earth, by Mallory McDuff, gives concrete and inspiring examples of churches and faith-based activism around the country. McDuff shows how efforts such as campaigning for justice for farmworkers, urban gardening, promoting energy conservation, and fighting corporate pollution can be holy, neighbor-loving work.
Two volumes from last year bring together biblical scholars, theologians, ethicists, and others to give theological and biblical perspectives on our environmental crisis: God, Creation, and Climate Change: A Catholic Response to the Environmental Crisis, edited by Richard W. Miller, and from a largely evangelical perspective, Keeping God’s Earth: The Global Environment in Biblical Perspective, edited by Noah J. Toly and Daniel I. Block.
Finally, there are the case studies in Hope and Hard Times: Communities, Collaboration, and Sustainability, by Ted Bernard, a professor of environmental studies at Ohio University. Bernard revisits communities — towns, cities, and regions — with sustainability projects that he’d profiled in the 1990s (featured in a book he co-authored, The Ecology of Hope). While not written from a religious perspective, his careful, clear-eyed analysis of the successes and failures of regular people trying to commit themselves to the good of their communities and the environment is informative reading for all of us.
Julie Polter is an associate editor at Sojourners.