Saturday, September 1, 2018

9/18 CCC: Green Bible 10th anniversary

September 2018 Creation Corner Column                                      

                                    10th Anniversary of The Green Bible

The tenth anniversary of The Green Bible: Understand the Bible's Powerful Message for the Earth is this year. 

Originally published in 2008, it, as a "green-letter edition", is such that it has green ink print that highlight passages so as to illustrate: God and Jesus interact with, care for, and are intimately involved with all creation all the elements of creation---land, water, air, plants, animals, humans---are interdependent nature responds to God we are called to care for creation

Also included is a "Green Bible Trail Guide" with scriptural passages substantiating themes of  

 ...And It Was Good
 ...Finding God
 ...Connected to Creation
 ...Creation Care as Justice
 ...The Full Impact of Sin
 ...The New Earth
Especially helpful are several essays by prominent ecologists who are also people of religious faith.  For example, environmental scientist Calvin B. DeWitt effectively addresses objections to Christians being involved with creation care; outlines what to do about Creation (awareness, appreciation, stewardship); and notes Biblical principles for creation care (earthkeeping, fruitfulness, Sabbath, discipleship, kingdom priority, contentment, praxis, and conservation).

Matthew Sleeth, M.D., provides several pages of historical quotes on creation; retired pastor Brian McLaren answers the question "Why I Am Green"; Target Earth's Gordon Aeschliman writes that "Loving the Earth is Loving the Poor"; Barbara Brown Taylor offers a sermon, "The Dominion of Love"; Dr. N.T. Wright proclaims "Jesus is Coming---Plant a Tree"; and Liverpool Bishop James Jones declares "Jesus: Savior of the Earth".

Other contributors examine how we can participate in "Knowing Our Place on Earth: Learning  Environmental Responsibility from the Old Testament" ((Professor Ellen Davis); examines "Creation Theology: A Jewish Perspective" (author Ellen Bernstein); and other perspectives are provided by Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Wendell Berry, Saint Francis of Assisi, and Pope John Paul II.

An 18-page "Green Subject Index" compiled by Frederick W. Krueger is most impressive.  Krueger is an early pioneer in this field of creation care, from the 1980s 11th Commandment Fellowship and the Christian Society of the Green Cross, and my reading of him at that time was influential.

The Green Bible is in contrast with the "red-letter" editions of the Bible that highlight the words of Jesus in red ink.  Some Christians identify themselves as Red-Letter Christians (see the work of Jim Wallis and Tony Campolo).  There is also the (Thomas) Jefferson Bible, composed by him with New Testament selections that provide another title for his effort, "The Life and Morals of Jesus of Nazareth".

The Green Bible uses the NRSV (New Revised Standard Version), has a complete A-Z Concordance, and is available in both hard-back and soft-back editions.



He earned a B.A. from Gettysburg College (1965), and a Master's from Lock Haven University (1989), where he studied the international Green Party movement.

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

8/18 CCC: Books, Songs, Heat & Fire stories, Stamps, Quotes

August 2018 Creation Corner Column:  Books, Songs, Heat & Fire Stories, Stamps, Quotes.


500 Insects: A Visual Reference.  Stephen A. Marshall.

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life.  Barbara Kingsolver with Steven L. Hopp & Camille Kingsolver. 

Becoming Nature: Learning the Language of Wild Animals and Plants.  Tamarack Song.

Being a Dog: Following the Dog Into a World of Smell.  Alexandra Horowitz, Unabridged Audiobook CD read by the author, 8 CDs.  Named a "Best Science Book of 2016" by Library Journal and Science Friday.

Butterflies in Flight.  Roger Camp, photographer.

Caesar's Last Breath: The Epic Story of the Air Around Us.  Sam Kean.

Cheap and Clean: How Americans Think about Energy in the Age of Global Warming.  Stephen Ansolabehere and David M. Konisky.

The Chimps of Fauna Sanctuary: A True Story of Resilience and Recovery.  Andrew Westoll.

Climate Leviathan: A Political Theory of Our Planetary Future.  Geoff Mann and Joel Wainwright.

Collision Course: Endless Growth on a Finite Planet.  Kerryn Higgs.

The Complete Book of Hummingbirds.  Tony Tilford.

Cosmosapiens: Human Evolution From the Origin of the Universe.  John Hands.

Danger on Peaks: Gary Snyder.  Poetry, Deluxe Audio Edition.  Snyder also authored Turtle Island.

Fossil Capital: The Rise of Steam Power and the Roots of Global Warming.  Andreas Malm.

The Genius of Birds.  Jennifer Ackerman.

Good Birders Still Don't Wear White: Passionate Birders Share the Joys of Watching Birds.  Lisa A. White & Jeffrey A. Gordon, eds.

Half-Earth: Our Planet's Fight for Life.  Edward O. Wilson.

Health From God's Garden: Herbal Remedies for Glowing Health and Well-Being.  Maria Treben.

How Animals Talk: And other Pleasant Studies of Birds and Beasts.  William J. Long (1919).

Integrating Climate, Energy, and Air Pollution Policies.  Robert Duffy.

Learning How to Die in the Anthropocene:  Reflections on the End of a Civilization.  Roy Scranton.

The Magic of Birds.  Celia Fisher.

Pale Rider: The Spanish Flu of 1918 and How It Changed the World.  Laura Spinney.

Peterson Field Guide to Bird Sounds of Eastern North America.  Nathan Pieplow.

Pig Tales: An Omnivore's Quest for Sustainable Meat.  Barry Estabrook.

The Progress of This Storm: Nature and Society in a Warming World.  Andreas Malm.

Soul Healing With Our Animal Companions: The Hidden Keys to a Deeper Animal-Human Connection.  Tammy Billups.

The Spinning Magnet: The Force That Created the Modern World---And Could Destroy It.  Alanna Mitchell.

The Third Horseman: Climate Change and the Great Famine of the 14th Century.  William Rosen.

We're Doomed.  Now What?: Essays on War and Climate Change.  Roy Scranton

Zapped: From Infrared to X-Rays, the Curious History of Invisible Light.  Bob Berman.


A Critical Thinking "Listopia" for you avid readers can be found on the GoodReads Book Site:


Lifting every voice to sing about subjects related to this blog is facilitated by accessing the 2015 Rise Again: AGroup Singing Songbook ( Annie Patterson and Peter Blood; Hal Leonard Corporation).

It provides words/lyrics and chords to nearly 1200 songs, suitable for occasions that raise up 39 subject matters such as earthcare (songs about environmental and climate issues), faith, farm and prairie (agriculture, gardening, cowboys), home and roots, outdoors, spirituals and gospels, etc.)

The compact collection provides for identifying what recording artist is associated with each song, an alphabetical list of song titles, and groupings by genre (folk, blues, jazz, etc.) and culture.

Although no discography accompanies this effort, there is a web site link to YouTube recordings.  Learn more by "googling" this title.  It is a sequel to the 15th anniversary edition of Rise Up Singing in 2005, although there is no repetition between the two books.

"Ecology Doxology", anyone?


Fire and Heat Summer Stories, as can be scanned at your library periodical shelves, include these:

July's heat wave is one for the books---globally.  Temperature records shatter by the thousands.  "USA Today Weekend" edition for July 27-29, p. 1A.

A World on fire: What's causing 2018's extreme heat?  Cover story in the 27 July issue of "The Guardian Weekly" newspaper  (UK).

As the World Burns: What wildfires and record temperatures tell us about climate change.  Cover story in the August 10 issue of "The Week".

In the line of fire: Losing the war against climate change.  Cover story in the August 4th-10th issue of "The Economist".

As The World Burns: Greed and Stupidity in the Age of Mega-Fires.  Cover story in the August issue of "Harper's Magazine". (17 pages, two articles, special report).  Plus a 9-page article on how climate change comes to the cradle of civilization entitled The End of Eden.


Postal Stamps may highlight your appreciation of the natural world when you affix such environmental theme first class postage to your letters.  Recent examples available from the U.S. Postal Service include:

Protect Pollinators
Flowers From the Garden
Henry David Thoreau
Bioluminescent Life
National Parks (2016 was 100th anniversary of the National Park Service)
O Beautiful (U.S. natural beauty scenes)
Love (floral inspired)
Peace Rose


"Summer afternoon---summer afternoon: to me those have always been the two most beautiful words in the English language." ---Henry James.


"I think the US is in a terrible state of denial... Worse than that we seem to be caught in a kind of Gotterdammerung : we'd rather have the world go down in flames than change our lifestyle or admit we're wrong."  Kim Stanley Robinson.


Next Month:  10th anniversary of The Green Bible (NRSV): Understand the Bible's Powerful Message for thEarth (hardback and paperback).


He earned a B.A. from Gettysburg College (1965), and a Master's from Lock Haven University (1989), where he studied the international Green Party movement.


Friday, July 6, 2018

7/18 Creation Cor. Col. July Books, etc.

July 2018 Books, etc. Creation Corner Column

American Exodus: Climate Change and the Coming Flight for Survival.  Giles Slade.

The Animal One Thousand Miles Long.  Leath Tonino.

Animals Strike Curious Poses.  Elena Passarello.

Bird! An Explanation of Hawk Watching.  Brian Wargo.

BirdNote: Chirps, Quirks, and Stories of 100 Birds From the Popular Public Radio Show.  Chris Peterson.

This Blessed Earth: A Year in the Life of an American Family Farm.  Ted Genoways.

The Cabaret of Plants: Forty Thousand Years of Plant Life and the Human Imagination.  Richard Mabey.

Cadillac Desert: The American West and Its Disappearing Water.  Marc Reisner.

Candid Creatures: How Camera Traps Reveal the Mysteries of Nature.  Roland Keys.

The Chain: Farm, Factory, and the Fate of Our Food.  Ted Genoways.

Climate Leviathan: A Political Theory of Our Planetary Future.  Geoff Mann and Joel Wainwright.

Cosmic Serpant: DNA and the Origins of Knowledge.  Jeremy Narby.

Crude Volatility: The History and the Future of Boom-Bust Oil Prices.  Robert McNally.

The Death and Life of Monterey Bay: A Story of Revival.  Stephen Palumbi and Carolyn Sotka.

Diet and the Disease of Civilization.  Adrienne Rose Bitar.

Drawdown: The Most Comprehensive Plan Ever Proposed to Reverse Global Warming.  Paul Hawken, editor.

Eager: The Surprising, Secret Life of Beavers and Why They Matter.  Ben Goldfarb.

Earth at Risk: Natural Capital and the Quest for Sustainability.  Claude Henry and Laurence Tubiana.

Earthworks: Selected Poems.  Rosanna Warren.

Eating Ethically: Religion and Science for a Better Diet.  Johathan K. Crance.

Ecologies of Power: Countermapping the Logistical Landscapes and Military Geographies of the U.S. Department of Defense.  Pierre Belanger and Alexander Arroyo.

The Economics of Enough.  Diane Coyle.

Elixir: A History of Water and Humankind.  Brian Fagan.

Extraction Empire: Undermining the Systems, States, and Scales of Canada's Global Resource Empire.  Pierre Belanger, editor.

Empires of the Indus: The Story of a River.  Alice Alpinia.

Final Frontier: The Pioneering Science and Technology of Exploring the Universe.  Brian Clegg.

The Forest Unseen.  David Haskell.

Garden Variety: The American Tomato From Corporate to Heirloom.  John Hoenig.

Genetics in the Madhouse: The Unknown History of Human Heredity.  Theodore M. Porter.

The Green Marble: Earth System Science and Global Sustainability.  David R. Turner.

The Hidden Half of Nature: The Microbial Roots of Life and Health.  David R. Montgomery and Anne Bikle.

The Hour of Land: A Personal Topography of America's National Parks.  Terry Tempest Williams.

How America Eats: A Social History of US Food and Culture.  Jennifer Jensen Wallach.

Icebreaker: A Voyage Far North.  Horatio Clare.

The Immeasurable World: Journeys to Desert Places.  William Atkins.

Jaws: The Story of a Hidden Epidemic.  Sandra Kahn and Paul R. Ehrlich.

Life in the Dark:  Illuminating Biodiversity in the Shadowy Haunts of Planet Earth.  Dante Fenolio.

The Lives of Animals.  J. M. Coetzee.  (A metafictional novella).

The Long, Long Life of Trees: Fiona Stafford.

Luminous Creatures: The History and Science of Light Production in Living Organisms.  Michel Anctil.

No Good Alternative: Volume Two of Carbon Ideologies.  William T. Vollman.

The Omega Principle: Seafood and the Quest for a Long Life and a Healthier Planet.  Paul Greenberg.

Our Place: Can We Save Britain's Wildlife Before It's Too Late?  Mark Cocker.

The Overstory.  Richard Powers.  (Novel).

Pasta for Nightingales: A 17th Century Handbook of Bird-Care and Folklore.  Cassiano Dal Pozzo and Pietro Olina.

Pathways To Our Sustainable Future: A Global Perspective from Pittsburgh.  Patricia M. Demarco.

Pluriverse: A Post Development Dictionary.  Alberto Acosta et al editors.  (Forthcoming).

The Progress of This Storm: Nature and Society in a Warming World.  Andreas Malm.

Radiation Nation: Three Mile Island and the Political Transformation of the 1970s.  Natasha Zaretsky.

Rambunctious Garden: Saving Nature in a Post-Wild World.  Emma Morris.

Re-Engineering Humanity.  Brett Frischmann and Evan Selinger.

Scale: The Universal Laws of Growth, Innovation, Sustainability, and the Pace of Life in Organisms, Cities, Economics, and Companies.  Geoffrey West.

The Sense of Wonder.  Rachel Carson.

The Shale Dilemma: A Global Perspective on Fracking and Shale Development.  Shanti Gamper-Rabindran.

Slick Policy: Environmental and Science Policy in the Aftermath of the Santa Barbara Oil Spill.  Teresa Sabol

Smarter Growth: Activism and Environmental Policy in Metropolitan Washington.  John H. Spiers.

The Songs of Trees.  David Haskell.

The Sting of the Wild.  Justin G. Schmidt.

Superbugs: An Arms Race Against Bacteria.  William Hall, Anthony McDonnell, and Jim O'Neill.

The Theory That Changed Everything: "On the Origin of Species" as a Work in Progress.  Philip Lieberman.

A Thirsty Land: The Making of an American Water Crisis.  Seamus McGraw.

Voracious Science and Vulnerable Animals: A Primate Scientist's Ethical Journey.  John P. Gluck.

Water Is for Fighting Over: And Other Myths about Water in the West.  John Fleck.

What to Eat.  Marion Nestle.

The Wild and the Wicked: On Nature and Human Nature.  Benjamin Hale.

The Wisdom of Frugality: Why Less Is More---More or Less.  Emrys Westacott.


Global Warming books as recommended and reviewed by Allen Johnson, Staff Coordinator for "The Mountain Vision: A Free Publication of Christians for the Mountains, 12664 Frost Road, Dunmore WV 24934 in the Spring/Summer 2018 issue. Christians For The Mountains and on FaceBook.  

Between God & Green: How Evangelicals Are Cultivating a Middle Ground on Climate Change.  Katharine K. Wilkinson. 2012.

Caring for Creation: The Evangelical's Guide to Climate Change and a Healthy Environment.  Mitch Hescox and Paul Douglas. 2016.

Christianity, Climate Change, and Sustainable Living.  Nick Spencer, Robert White, and Virginia Vrobleskey.  2009.

A Climate for Change: Global Warming Facts for Faith-Based Decisions.  Katharine Hayhoe and Andrew Farley. 2009.

Climate Church, Climate World: How People of Faith Must Work for Change.  Jim Antal. 2018.

Climate Cover-up: The Crusade to Deny Global Warming.  James Hoggan and Richard Littlemore.  2009.

Don't Even Think About It:  Why Our Bodies are Wired to Ignore Climate Change.  George Marshall. 2014.

Global Warming and the Risen Lord: Christian Discipleship and Climate Change. Jim Ball. 2010.

The Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars.  Michael E. Mann.  2012.

The Madhouse Effect: How Climate Change Denial Is Threatening Our Planet, Destroying Our Politics, and Driving Us Crazy.  Michael E. Mann and Tom Toles. 2016.

Religion and Global Climate Change:  A Handbook for Faith Leaders and Climate Activists.  Frederick W. Krueger, editor.  2015.

Storms Of My Grandchildren: The Truth About the Coming Climate Catastrophe And Our Last Chance to Save Humanity.  James Hansen.  2009.

Train Wreck Earth: The Climate Emergency and a Path to Solve It.  Harvard Ayers and David Harman. (written in the style of a novel).


"Disappearing Beach Reads" (from In These Times for June 2018, p. 45).

New York 2140.  Kim Stanley Robinson (novel).
Rising: Dispatches from the New American Shore.  Elizabeth Rush.
Storming the Wall: Climate Change, Migration and Homeland Security.  Todd Miller.
The Water Will Come: Rising Seas, Sinking Cities and the Remaking of the Civilized World.  Jeff Goodell.


Other Media

Blue Planet II. BBC America documentary from David Attenborough.

Grizzly Man. Documentary film by Werner Herzog.  2005.

Unfractured.  Documentary film by Chanda Chevannes about Dr. Sandra Steingraber, eco-activist.


9 Pioneering African American Outdoorspeople (cited as "pioneers" by the Sierra Club on-line):

Charles Young
Matthew Henson
George W. Gibbs, Jr.
John Francis
Robert Taylor
Sophia Danenberg
Rahawa Haile
Kai Lightner
Shelton Johnson

A new word (to me):

"Endling":  word for the last member of a dying species.  Alternative names for such put forward are "ender" and "terminarch".  "Relict" usually refers to a population that is the last of a species.

Web Site of examples of censorship related to global warming:

Silencing Science Tracker

Closing Quote:

You may choose to look the other way but you can never say again that you did not know.
William Wilberforce.


He earned a B.A. from Gettysburg College (1965), and a Master's from Lock Haven University (1989), where he studied the international Green Party movement.


Thursday, June 7, 2018

6/18 CCC: June books

6/18 Creation Corner Column:  June Books

Beasts at Bedtime: Revealing the Environmental Wisdom in Children's Literature.  Liam Heneghan.

Biophylia.  E. O. Wilson.

The Biophylia Hypothesis.  S.R. Kellert and E.O. Wilson, eds.

The Book of Caterpillars: A Life-Size Guide to Six Hundred Species from Around the World.  David G. James, ed. 

Brave New Arctic: The Untold Story of the Melting North.  Mark C. Serreze.

Bringing Nature Home: How You Can Sustain Wildlife with Native Plants (updated and expanded edition).  Douglas W. Tallamy.

California Greenin': How the Golden State Became an Environmental Leader.  David Vogel.

Carleton Watkins: Making the West American.  Tyler Green.

Celebrating Wendell Berry in Music, vol. 1, and vol. 2  All The Earth Shall Sing.

Client Earth.  James Thornton and Martin Goodman.

A Cold Welcome: The Little Ice Age and Europe's Encounter with North America.  Sam White.

Collecting the World: Hans Sloane and the Origins of the British Museum.  James Delbourgo.

Defending Giants: The Redwood Wars and the Transformation of American Environmental Politics.  Darren Frederick Speece.

Eaarth: Making a Life on a Tough New Planet (with a new Afterword 2011).  Bill McKibben.

The Ecocentrists: A History of Radical Environmentalism.  Keith Makoto Woodhouse.

Energy: A Human History.  Richard Rhodes. 2018.

The Experience of Landscape.  Jay Appleton.

Extreme Cities: The Peril and Promise of Urban Life in the Age of Climate Change.  Ashley Dawson.

The Fate of Rome: Climate, Disease, and the End of an Empire.  Kyle Harper.

Fertile Ground: Scaling Agroecology from the Ground Up.  Steve Brescia, editor.  Also in French and Spanish.

French 'Ecocritique': Reading Contemporary French Theory and Fiction Ecologically.  Stephanie Posthumus.

The Future of Conservation in America: A Chart for Rough Water.  Gary E. Machlis and Jonathan B. Jarvis.

Gaia: A New Look at Life on Earth.  James Lovelock.

Ghosts of the Tsunami: Death and Life in Japan's Disaster Zone.  Richard Lloyd Parry.

Global Warming and the Sweetness of Life: A Tar Sands Tale.  Matt Hern and Am Johal.

The Global Warming Express. Marina Weber. (For young readers).

Green Japan: Environmental Technologies, Innovation Policy, and the Pursuit of Green Growth.  Carin Holroyd.

Growing a Sustainable City?  The Question of Urban Agriculture.  Christina D. Rosan and Hamil Pearsall.

Healing Earth: An Ecologist's Journey of Innovation and Environmental Stewardship.  John Todd (forthcoming).

Healing Gaia: Practical Medicine for the Planet.  James Lovelock.

A History of the Future: Prophets of Progress from H.G. Wells to Isaac Asimov.  Peter J. Bowler.

A History of the World in Seven Cheap Things: A Guide to Capitalism, Nature, and the Future of the Planet.  Raj Patel and Jason W. Moore. (Spoiler Alert:  Nature, Money, Work, Care, Food, Energy, Lives).

Humankind: Solidarity with Non-Human People.  Timothy Morton.

The Infinite Desire for Growth.  Daniel Cohen.

Insult to Our Planet & the Florida Keys: Explore the Environment of the Past...Confront the Future.  Jerrold J. Weinstock, M.D. 

Interwoven: Junipers and the Web of Being.  Kristen Rogers-Iversen.

The Last Utopians: Four Late 19th Century Visionaries and Their Legacy.  Michael Robertson.  (Note: the four are Edward Bellamy, William Morris, Edward Carpenter, and Charlotte Perkins Gilman).

Life at the Edge of Sight: A Photographic Exploration of the Microbial World.  Scott Chimileski & Roberto Kolter.

The Lost Species: Great Expeditions in the Collections of Natural History Museums.  Christopher Kemp.

Mourning Animals: Rituals and Practices Surround Animal Death.  Margo DeMelio. 

A New Basis for Animal Ethics: Telos and Common Sense.  Bernard E. Rollin.

Nonviolent Direct Action as a Spiritual Path.  Richard K. Taylor.

Our Place: Can We Save Britain's Wildlife Before It's Too Late?  Mark Cocker.

Out of the Wreckage: A New Politics for an Age of Crisis.  George Monbiot.

Planet of Microbes: The Perils and Potential of Earth's Essential Life Forms.  Ted Anton.

The Plant Messiah: Adventures in Search of the World's Rarest Species.  Carlos Magdalena.

Proving Ground: Expertise and Appalachian Landscapes.  Edward Slavishak.

This Radical Land: A Natural History of American Dissent.  Daegan Miller.

Rising: Dispatches from the New American Shore.  Elizabeth Rush.

Science Comics Series (Get to Know Your Universe graphic non-fiction novels for the middle-grade reader, available in soft or hard-cover).  Latest 128-page issue is Trees: Kings of the Forest, by Andy Hirsch.  Other titles include Coral Reefs, Volcanoes, Plagues, Sharks, Robots & Drones, Dogs, etc.

Sinking Chicago: Climate Change and the Remaking of a Flood-Prone Environment.  Harold L. Platt.

Symbiosis in Cell Evolution.  Lynn Margulis.

Taming the Sun: Innovations to Harness Solar Energy and Power the Planet.  Varun Sivaraam.

The Taste of Empire: How Britain's Quest for Food Shaped the Modern World.  Lizzie Collingham.

Toward a Better Worldliness: Ecology, Economy and the Protestant Tradition.  Terra Schwerin Rowe.

The Truth About Animals: Stoned Sloths, Lovelorn Hippos, and Other Tales from the Wild Side of Wildlife.  Lucy Cooke.

Visionary Women: How Rachel Carson, Jane Jacobs, Jane Goodall, and Alice Waters Changed Our World.  Andrea Barnet.

Whose Dog Are You?  The Technology of Dog Breeds and the Aesthetics of Modern Human-Canine Relations.  Martin Wallen.

Wilding: The Return of Nature to a British Farm.  Isabella Tree.

Wildlife Crime: From Theory to Practice.  William D. Moreto, editor.

Win-Win Ecology: How the Earth's Species Can Survive in the Midst of Human Enterprise.  M. L. Rosenzweig. 

Women Who Dig:  Farming, Feminism, and the Fight to Feed the World.  Trina Moyles.


Post-Script to my  May "Creation Corner Column" on Plastics, see the June issue of The National Geographic magazine:

Friday, May 4, 2018

5/18 CCC: June 5, World Environ. Day, Beat Plastic Pollution

May 2018 Creation Corner Column

June 5, World Environment Day: Beat Plastic Pollution

You may recall this quote from the 1967 movie, The Graduate.

Mr. Maguire:  I want to say one word to you, Benjamin.  Just one word.
Benjamin Braddock:  Yes, sir.
Mr. Maguire: Are you listening?
Benjamin Braddock:  Yes I am.
Mr. Maguire: Plastics.

Now over 50 years later, we are reaping what we have sown, plastics everywhere.

You have read the descriptions:  "planet waste crisis," "world's plastic binge," "global plastic littering," "marine plastic litter crisis", etc.

The World Health Organization (WHO) analyzed some of the world's most popular bottled water brands and found more than 90% contained tiny pieces of plastic, thus the concern about plastic in drinking water.  

For two billion poor and vulnerable people who live in communities without rubbish collections, trash-filled rivers flood, causing disease, and hundreds of thousands of premature deaths occur from the toxic fumes cause by the burning of waste.

That is why the Environmental Sabbath this year during the UNEP's World Environment Day week features a focus on the plethora of plastic confronting us.

You have read of the concern that certain kinds of plastic can and should be recycled, and that appears to be all for the good.  And some communities ban plastic bags.  Companies should try to reduce plastic packaging, help collect the waste, and support community recycling efforts. 

Yes, plastic is ubiquitous.  Not a good thing.  Plastic out-lives us; not much is biodegradable. 

Solutions have been suggested.  Of course, assume more personal responsibility to avoid bringing plastic into your household, "Refuse" is a "re" prefix-word, along with reduce, reuse and recycle.  Use less and  "Wake Up"  to what you are consuming.  Can you go to the supermarket and come away without any plastic packaging?

Governments need to be encouraged to implement Deposit Return Schemes (DRS) whereby single-use, "throw-away" drink containers (plastic, glass, metal) can be deposited in "reverse vending machines" that automate a small cash return or voucher. Recycling machines can be equipped with shredding mechanisms.  As plastic waste increases, so can recycling efforts reach 99% as in Germany.  The DRS solution is found in 39 countries.

Another solution, distant into the future, is the use of a mutant enzyme (Ideonella sakaiensis) that breaks down plastic drink bottles, thus fully recycling the bottles of PET (polyethylene terephthalate).

Thus, the effort this year to draw our attention to the problem, and solutions.  To learn how to refuse using plastic, to reduce, reuse and recycle plastic waste; to find guides on #BeatPlasticPollution for government partners, education partners, and organizations and businesses, go to  World Environment Day

For the Environmental Sabbath Service Call to prayers, of awareness, sorrow, healing, and gratitude, go to The United Nations Environmental Sabbath Service | Earth Ministry


Monday, April 2, 2018

4/18 CCC: Thomas Merton's Environmental Vision

Creation Corner Column, April 2018

Book Overview:  The Environmental Vision of Thomas Merton.  Monica Weis, SSJ.  University. Press of Kentucky, 2011.

Monica Weis here traces the evolving environmental consciousness and committed conscience of Cistercian monk Thomas Merton, just one aspect of his legacy, especially during his 27 years at the Abbey of Gethsemani in Trappist, Kentucky.

From his birth in France (1915) to his accidental death in Bangkok, Thailand (1968), she records his various "kairos" or "epiphonic" experiences that transformed his attitude and behavior, as well as his spiritual development, vis-a-vis God's gift of creation.

These "touchstone" moments, or "spots in time", found expression in his prose, poetry, photography, journaling, prayer life and his love and friendship with others.

He, as with us, began life with seeing and appreciating nature, but gradually began to "see with a new eye", with a "waking up" to the interdependence of all creation (air, land, water, animals, humans, etc.).  With contemplation of the "outer landscape" (DDT, nuclear weapons, etc.) his "inner landscape" became aware of how we are destroying ourselves spiritually, morally, and in many other ways.

One might say he sought to enlarge our environmental vision, to go beyond our hubris, anthropocentrism, speciesism, and racism to eco-justice and an "ecology of humility" wherein we have a "reverential awe and desire to preserve nature's beauty in the face of mystery that is larger than humankind".

Merton urges us to move away from what we often think of as our "mastery" of, or "wise use" of nature, and instead seek to have "responsibility for" creation.  Thus: defending, preserving, conserving, and restoring.

He further urges us to have an ecological consciousness because it is required if we are to be non-violent to the earth.

Merton's work addresses us today, those of us with a superficial view of the world, especially in view of our exterminating capability.  So many of us speak of "adapting" to climate change; he would find such talk of blind optimism as absurd.  And for the church to bless some futuristic technological paradise?  Blasphemy!

Of course one reads this life course of Merton with one's own life trajectory in mind.  What events have we experienced that had a "renovating virtue" whereby  we were "nourished and invisibly repaired"?  As each day dawns (our own re-creation and genesis), might we see beyond the "shadows and disguise" and find the presence of God within us, and encounter the holy in the day-to-day ordinariness?

What does an Incarnational Theology mean for us?  What is our response as we "recognize the holiness of all creatures and the spark of divinity in all matter"?

We too can experience turning points in our lives that lead us to have a peace-making ecological conscience with compassion.  We strive to discern God's will for His creation, and be obedient to it.  Merton urged that.


Thomas Merton (b. 1/31/1915, d. 12/30/1968).  International Thomas Merton Society.

The Environmental Vision of Thomas Merton, by Monica Weis, SSJ, 2011, is a well-documented 197 page book, with 40 Thomas Merton primary sources cited,  9 pages of footnotes, an 8 page bibliography, and an 11 page index. It is one book in the "Culture of the Land: A Series in the New Agrarianism", University Press of Kentucky.  Series Editor is Norman Wirzba.

Weis previously published Thomas Merton's Gethsemani: Landscapes of Paradise (2005) . She draws on that, and nine other articles by her on the Merton legacy, in the 2011 book.


Wednesday, March 7, 2018

3/18CCC: John Dear's "They Will Inherit the Earth" book

3/18 Creation Corner Column

Book Overview: They Will Inherit the Earth: Peace & Nonviolence in a Time of Climate Change, by John Dear.  2017, Orbis Press, 161 pages.  $20.

The thesis of John Dear's book, intended for readers of the Christian religious faith, but also useful to non-Christian and secular readers, is that if we are to have (inherit) an inhabitable earth, we must practice non-violence.  

We need to turn away from violence in our personal lives, institutions, policies, systems, structures, and within the "powers and principalities," etc.  For Dear, it is as simple and fundamental as that.

He offers biblical justification for his view (the Beatitudes, Sermon on the Mount, scriptural passages, The Lord's Prayer) and quotations from the 2015 ecology encyclical by Pope Francis,  Laudato si': On Care for Our Common Home. 

In seeking the "Kingdom of God" (may "Thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven") we are to practice nonviolence for such is what God intends for his earth to flourish with integrity and wholeness.  In that way nonviolence enables us to inherit the earth as it is designed.  

By following a nonviolent Jesus we may live in, with, and under God's reign of nonviolence.

Ways in which we violate the earth are mentioned, in our personal lifestyles (food consumption choices, fossil fuel dependence, etc.), and he extrapolates the multiplier effect of such with carbon footprint data, and offers remedies in a chapter on sustainable rules for the planet.

Often he uses the two-word admonition phrase of "Wake Up!" to alert us as to how the earth's balances are being imperiled.  But he also encourages us to "Let Go" and not be burdened by beating up on ourselves with self-guilt, giving up or giving in to the point of depression and despair, sitting back, doing nothing while the earth "groans in travail."

While some people of faith employ the phrase "Let Go, Let God", Lutherans might add that it is "God's Work, Our Hands."

Book chapters offer examples of hope, from the USA grassroots efforts (Santa Clara pueblo near Los Alamos NM; among the indigenous Lenca people of Honduras; those who took a stand against a pipeline at the ND Sioux Nation Standing Rock; the Nonviolent Cities Project; and the Oakland CA Canticle Farm.

Nonviolence can be applied to many social problems (racism, sexism, classism, militarism, war, nuclear weapons and other forms of violence).  Cooperation and solidarity can help to solve earth's problems, with work among environmentalists, scientists, those who are young, labor and anti-corporate groups, interfaith coalitions, indigenous people, antiwar/pro-peace folks, women advocates for Mother Earth, etc.  

One chapter raises up global interfaith voices, another is on the Call of Pope Francis.  Especially valuable, and most challenging, are passages in chapter 14 (the longest one of 21 pages), wherein he narrates attitudes, beliefs and practices that go beyond the usual
"re-" words (restore, reconciliation, reparations, etc.).

A study guide for personal reflection and small group discussion concludes the book.  Overall it can be recommended as an important and welcomed addition to the growing literature on caring for creation as it adds the dimension of advocacy for nonviolence in our efforts to prevent climate chaos.

John Dear (b. 1959), a vegetarian for 35 years, author of over 35 books on peace and nonviolence, is a Catholic priest who grew up in NC and currently lives in NM.  A Nobel Peace Prize nominee, he has often been arrested for non-violent civil disobedience in opposition to the "war machine."

This newest book of his is based on the Third Beatitude: "Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth."  For John Dear "the meek" refers to those who are non-violent.

He will speak March 27 in Williamsport PA in the Mary Welch Honors Hall of Lycoming College, corner of Basin  and E. 4th Streets, at 7 p.m. 

For a timely article on the various forms of non-violence, from letter-writing on, see Shane Claiborne's "Why We Go to Jail" in the April 2018 issue of Sojourners magazine.

On communicating climate change concerns, see the cover story in March 14 issue of the Christian Century, "How to Talk to climate change skeptics": an interview with Katharine Hayhoe.

Also see the life-long work of Gene Sharp (1928-2018) documenting non-violence.