Friday, January 5, 2018

CCC 1-18 Winter Reading Suggestions

 Creation Corner Column, January 2018

                                 Winter 2018 Reading Suggestions

"This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it." Psalm 118:24

Ask the Beasts: Darwin and the God of Love..  Elizabeth A. Johnson.
Birth of a New Earth: The Radical Politics of Environmentalism.  Adrian Parr.
Blue Sapphire of the Mind: Notes for a Contemplative Ecology.  Douglas E. Christie.
A Child's Book of Animal Poems and Blessings.  Eliza Blanchard, collector. Joyce Hesselberth,    
Christians and the Environment: A Guide for Personal Reflection and Group Discussion.  Sojourners   eBook.
Climate Change 2013: The Physical Science Basis.  T.F. Stocker, D. Qin, G.-K. Plattner, et al.
Climate Change and the Health of Nations.  Anthony J. McMichael.
Climate of Hope: How Cities, Businesses, and Citizens Can Save the Planet.  Michael Bloomberg and  Carl Pope. 
The Climate Swerve: Reflections on Mind, Hope, and Survival.  Robert J. Lifton.
Creatures Born of Mud and Slime: The Wonder and Complexity of Spontaneous Generation.  Daryn Lehoux.
Deep Woods, Wild Waters: A Memoir.  Douglas Woods.
Devotions: The Selected Poems of Mary Oliver.  Mary Oliver.
Dinner with Darwin: Food, Drink, and Evolution.  Jonathan Silvertown.
Down to the Wire: Confronting Climate Collapse.  David Orr.
Earth Community, Earth Ethics.  Larry Rasmussen.
Eco-Lutheranism: Lutheran Perspectives on Ecology.  Karla G. Bohmbach and Shauna K. Hannan, editors.
Facing Gaia: Eight Lectures on the New Climatic Regime.  Bruno Latour.
Finding Purpose: Environmental Stewardship as a Personal Calling.  Andrew J. Hoffman.
For the Beauty of the Earth: Daily Devotions Exploring Creation. Kathrin Burleson, watercolorist.     Episcopal Church voices,  Compilation/Forward
The Future of Ethics: Sustainability, Social Justice, and Religious Creativity.  Willis Jenkins.
Grand Canyon For Sale: Public Lands versus Private Interests in the Era of Climate Change. Stephen Nash.
How To Survive a Plague: The Story of How Activists and Scientists Tamed AIDS.  David France.
Inheritors of the Earth.  Chris D. Thomas.
The Journal 1837-1861, Henry David Thoreau.  Edited by Damion Searls.
Making the Most of the Anthropocene: Facing the Future.  Mark Denny.
The Meaning of Human Existence.  E. O. Wilson.
The New Cosmic Story: Inside Our Awakening Universe.  John F. Haught.
The Nature Fix: Why Nature Makes Us Happier, Healthier, and More Creative.  Florence Williams.
Nature's Fabric: Leaves in Science and Culture.  David Lee.
On the Trail: A History of American Hiking.  Silas Chamerlin.
On Trails: An Exploration.  Robert Moor.
Opening the Book of Nature.  Fred Krueger.
Pilgrims of the Air: The Passing of the Passenger Pigeons.  John Wilson Foster.
Pioneers of Ecological Humanism: Mumford, Dubos and Bookchin.  Brian Morris.
Reckoning With Apocalypse: Time To Turn Around.  Dale Aukerman.
The Secret Life of Cows.  Rosamund Young.
The War on Science: Who's Waging It, Why It Matters, What We Can Do About It.  Shawn Otto.
We Are Home: A Spirituality of the Environment.  Shannon Jung (1993).
Whitewash: The Story of a Weed Killer, Cancer, and the Corruption of Science.  Carey Gillam.

Titles by Richard Cartwright Austin (Presbyterian Church USA):

Baptized Into Wilderness.
Beauty of the Lord.
Hope for the Land.
Reclaiming America.
Spoil: A Moral Study of Strip Mining for Coal.


The Best of Nature---25 Years (DVD). PBS Nature series first 25 years, Lynn Sherr, host.
Food Chains DVD documentary (2014).  Eric Schlosser and Eva Longoria.
For the Beauty of the Earth: Celebrating Creation.  CD, Gabriel V brass ensemble.

"Climate and Creation: An interfaith conversation about religion in the Anthropocene."  Pastor Don Mackenzie (United Church of Christ) with Rabbi Ted Falcon and Imam Jamal Rahman. Orion magazine, May/June 2017. 

"The Ecology of Prayer: Faith and resistance in the age of climate change."  Fred Bahnson, School of Divinity, Wake Forest University. Orion magazine, Thirty-fifth anniversary issue, 2017.

                         "The Earth Belongs to God...and Everything in it."  Psalm 24:1.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

12/17 CCC: Advocacy for Sustainability & American Indian Wisdom

Creation Corner Column, December 2017
                             Advocacy for Sustainability and American Indian Wisdom

Advocacy:  supporting, recommending, promoting, championing, backing, pleading, arguing in favor of, defending a cause or proposal.

Sustainability: the endurance of systems and processes for long-term ecological balance; the quality of not being harmful, or permanently damaging, to the environment, or depleting natural resources.

Advocacy for sustainability takes many forms, as within the Lutheran (ELCA) and Episcopal churches, and with the "2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development" promoted by the United Nations.  The latter includes 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and both religious denominations share a similar vision.

Clean water and sanitation; affordable and clean energy; climate action, life below water and life on land are five UN examples (see others at .  The Lutheran and Episcopal emphases encompass those of the UN, so as to create a "sustainable and sufficient world where there is enough for all to thrive."  These churches seek to do this by "working through their service, reconciliation and justice ministries."  The Lutheran effort may be seen at .

Those who lived on our soil of this USA nation prior to Europeans, and whose descendants live here still, were advocates of sustainability and from whom we can learn much, and we would be wise to pass along their wisdom to our children and grand-children, our descendants.

Consider the Iroquois:  "In our every deliberation we must consider the impact of our decisions on the next seven generations."

Chief Seattle:  "All things are connected.  Whatever befalls the Earth befalls the children of the Earth."

Chief Seattle:  "This we know.  The earth does not belong to man; man belongs to the earth."

Chief Seattle: "Humankind has not woven the web of life.  We are but one thread within it."

Shawnee Chief Tecumseh:  "No tribe as the right to sell, even to each other, much less to strangers.  Sell a country! Why not sell the air, the great sea, as well as the earth?  Didn't the Great Spirit make them all for the use of his children?" (in a speech to William Harrison, Governor of the Indiana Territory, on August 11, 1810).

Cree proverb:  When all the trees have been cut down, when all the animals have been hunted, when all the waters are polluted, when all the air is unsafe to breathe, only then will you discover you cannot eat money."


Monday, November 20, 2017

11/17 CCC: Thankful Prayerful Responses for Creation's Blessings

Nov. 2017 Creation Corner Column (CCC)

Thankful Prayerful Responses for Creation's Blessings

Including prayers in church liturgy is one of many ways to express our care for creation, as we are instructed to by the "First Commandment" in Genesis 2:15, to "serve and protect" the creation.  Consider these:

Creator God, you provide daily for our nourishment.  Bless fields and orchards, oceans and lakes, birds and animals, insects and fish.  Sustain those who harvest your life-sustaining bounty.  Help us share the gifts you have freely given.  Hear us, O God.  Your mercy is great.

Reveal your will for your creation, mighty God.  Renew waters, lands, and skies that are threatened by our carelessness.  Teach us to honor and care for the works of your hand.  Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

We pray for the renewal of creation: for a shared, plentiful harvest, for lands unable to bear fruit, for what is neglected or destroyed by our hand, and for the earth's advocates.  Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

You rejoice in your good creation.  Provide moisture for parched places, wind and sun for flooded lands, and shelter and sustenance for creatures of every kind.  Hear us, O God.  Your mercy is great.

Restore what is broken in creation, gracious God.  Revive farmlands and vineyards, protect waters needed by all living things, and move us to care for this earthly home.  Hear us, O God.  Your mercy is great.

Give bountiful pastures, safety and health to herds, livestock, and all animals.  May our care for all of your creation reflect the shepherding love for all that you have made.  Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

We pray for parks and open spaces, for clean air and clear water.  Help us protect places where we are reminded of God's work in creation and find renewal.  Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

Note:  The above Prayers of Intercession are derived from recent 2017 "Celebrate" bulletin inserts and are reproduced by permission of Augsburg Fortress.  No future reproduction is allowed without written permission.

Friday, October 6, 2017

10/17 CCC: Faith Groups & St. Francis

October. 2017 Creation Corner Column

Faith Groups and Saint Francis
To follow last month's column re: religious leaders raising up climate justice concerns for the integrity of creation, one can glance at some examples from those in the "Keepers of the Faith" contingent at the April 29 People's Climate March in Washington D.C.

Presbyterians for Earth Care; United Methodists; United Church of Christ Environmental Justice Ministry and Creation Justice teams; state Inter-faith Power & Light offices; North Carolina Council of Churches; Unitarian-Universalists for Social Justice; American Jewish World Service; Adrian Dominican Sisters;  Sikh Environmental Day; Green Muslims; Indigenous Environmental Network Faith Leaders; and many others.

Other contingents were Protectors of Justice; Creators of Sanctuary; Builders of Democracy; Guardians of the Future; Defenders of Truth; Reshapers of Power; Many Struggles, One Home.

                                            "Rise  Up, O Saints of God!" hymn verses:

 "Speak out, O saints of God, Despair engulfs earth's frame...(v.2); Give heed, O saints of God! Creation cries in pain...(v.4); Redress sin's cruel consequence, Give justice larger place...(v.3).  Lutheran Book of Worship Hymn 383, Norman O. Forness (b. 1936), text.


October 3 each year the church raises up St. Francis of Assisi Day.  Environmentalists often regard him as their patron saint.  Francis renounced materialism in living a life of humility, simplicity and dedicated his love to the whole divinely created world.

In his "sermon to the birds" he said "Your home is in the purity of the air."  Today, according to the United Nations Environmental Assembly each year roughly seven million people die prematurely because of poor air quality.

A slogan from the National Audubon Society is " Protect the birds and we protect the Earth."


Note:  This begins the 21st year for this column by Michael Ochs, a Lutheran layman in Williamsport PA.  In addition to appearing in the monthly newsletter of the ecumenical United Churches of Lycoming County, PA, it may also be found, since March of 2011, as a companion blog to the web site of Lutherans Restoring Creation.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

9/17 CCC: Our Planet, Our Selves

Creation Corner Column, September 2017

Our Planet, Our Selves

Global Witness, an international NGO (non-governmental organization) reports that in 2016 there were 200 environmental defenders, wildlife rangers and indigenous leaders murdered as they defended natural resources, wildlife, or community land.  Thus nearly four a week.

Environmentalists are threatened by the interests representing mining and oil, illegal logging, agribusiness and dam building.  Conflicts persist over water and land, pollution and evictions.

Globalization of incentives for economic interests trumping ecological interests is often cited as the cause for this culture of impunity where environmental defenders can be eliminated without repercussions.  Assaults are attributed to corporations' private security guards, state forces and contract killers.

How might you and I, as a part of the ecumenical movement respond?  Investment portfolio divestment from offending companies is a start.  Or, as investors, we could vote to have the company report on how climate change, for example, will affect its "bottom line".  Recently ExxonMobil shareholders voted overwhelmingly to do this.

If our tradition seems to urge support of extremist theologies and politics that jettison human rights, disrespect the rule of law, or fail to take a stand against environmental destruction, perhaps you and I have cause to re-think, seeking values that are more life-affirming.

If political will is lacking, and corporations elude accountability, and if the hope of the environmental movement is challenged, and when science alone cannot solve environmental problems, we need to rely on the influence of spiritual leaders in the decision-making process by invoking their moral authority to frame the struggle for ecological integrity as a humanitarian one.

Each of us reading this column can make some contribution of helping.

This column began in October 1997 and thus now completes 20 years. It is issued mid-monthly, Sept.--May, by the six-decades-old ecumenical United Churches of Lycoming County, based in Williamsport PA.  To see this column in that context, go to and then search the newsletter for the "Creation Corner Column."

Friday, August 11, 2017

8/17 CCC: Enviro. Quotes, Dates, Books, Media, etc.

8/17 Creation Corner Column: Enviro. Quotes, Dates, Books, Media, etc.

Quote of the Month:

"The situation has become so bad it would not be ethical not to use strong language" says Prof. Gerardo Ceballos, lead researcher for the study concluding that billions of animal populations have been lost, a "biological annihilation", amounting to a sixth mass extinction.

This is a "frightening assault on the foundations of human civilization", according to the study in the peer-reviewed journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Earth Overshoot Day of August 2, 2017

This is the estimated date humans have overdrawn the planet's natural resource budget this year.  It takes more than 20 months to regenerate what's depleted in a year.  Source: Global Footprint Network.  This USA Today Snapshot asks: "What will you do to #movethedate?  The date arrives earlier each year.

2017 marks the 10th anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court decision granting the US EPA the authority to regulate global warming pollution in the case of Massachusetts v. EPA (2007).

1967-2017 the 50th anniversary of the Environmental Defense Fund whose motto is "Finding the ways that work."

Documentary Film of the month:

An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power.  Al Gore.

Religious book of the month:

Eco-Reformation: Grace and Hope for a Planet in Peril.  edited by Lisa E. Dahill and Jim B. Martin-Schramm.  Foreword by Bill McKibben.

"The" Books of the Month:

The 50 Greatest Walks of the World.  Barry Stone.
The Ancestor's Tale: A Pilgrimage to the Dawn of Life. Richard Dawkins & Yan Wong.
The Boatman: Henry David Thoreau's River Years.  Robert M. Thorson.
The Canada 150 Collection (many titles, Univ. of Toronto press).
The Chimps of Fauna Sanctuary: A True Story of Resilience and Recovery.  Andrew Westoll.
The Dog by the Cradle, the Serpent Beneath: Some Paradoxes of Human-Animal Relationships. Erika Ritter.
The Enigma of the Owl: An Illustrated Natural History. Mike Unwin and David Tipling.
The Fruit Hunters: A Story of Nature, Adventure, Commerce and Obsession. Adam Leith Gollner.
The Human Eros: Eco-Ontology and the Aesthetics of Existence.  Thomas M. Alexander.
The Incredible Unlikeliness of Being: Evolution and the Making of Us.  Alice Roberts.
The Living Shore: Rediscovering a Lost World.  Rowan Jacobsen.
The New Food Activism: Opposition, Cooperation, and Collective Action. edited by Alison Alkon and Julie Guthman.
The Paper Zoo: 500 Years of Animals in Art. Charlotte Sleigh.
The Poetic Species: A Conversation.  Edward O. Wilson & Robert Hass.
The Rhinoceros and the Megatherium: An Essay in Natural History.  Juan Pimentel, translated by Peter Mason.
The Roof at the Bottom of the World: Discovering the Transantarctic Mountains.  Edmund Stump.
The Secret Language of Animals: A Guide to Remarkable Behavior.  Janine M. Benyus, Juan Carlos Barberis, illus.
The Songs of Trees: Stories from Nature's Great Connectors.  David George Haskell.
The Water Book: The Extraordinary Story of Our Most Ordinary Substance. Alok Jha.
The Water Kingdom: A Secret History of China.  Philip Ball.
The Way of the Hare.  Marianne Taylor.
The World We Have: A Buddhist Approach to Peace and Ecology.  Thich Nhat Hanh.

Coloring Books: To inspire creation-consciousness while at the beach, lakeside, shorelines.

The Brilliant Colouring Book.  Arcturus.
The Kew Gardens Exotic Plants Coloring Book: Over 40 Beautiful Illustrations Plus Color Guides. Arcturus.
Floral Coloring Book: Beautiful Pictures from the Garden of Nature.  Arcturus.
Sacred Geometry Coloring Book.  Francene Hart.
Stained Glass Coloring Book: Luminous Designs to Personalize and Treasure.  Arcturus.
Vintage Coloring Book: Gorgeous Retro Patterns to Personalize and Keep.  Arcturus.

Other Media:

The Bird Collection (4 11x14-inch color prints and book).  Kathryn Hennessy & Victoria Wiggins, eds.
The Plants and Flowers Collection (4 11x14-inch color prints and book).  Kathryn Hennessy & Victoria Wiggins, eds.
Food Chains (DVD). Eric Schlosser & Eva Longoria.
Ocean Waves: 100% Pure Nature, Soothing, Pure.  (CD) Compass Productions.

Concluding Quote: "What a country chooses to save is what a country chooses to say about itself.  Mollie Beattie.

Earlier columns may be found at .


Thursday, July 6, 2017

7/17 CCC: Books, Media, Events, Quotes, Links

July 2017 Creation Corner Column: Books and other media, events, quotes, links
Books of potential interest to the reader:

The Age of Spiritual Machines. Ray Kurzweil.
The Art of Loading Brush (forthcoming).  Wendell Berry.
Chesapeake Country.  Eugene L. Meyer (author), Lucian Niemeyer (photographer).
Creating An Ecological Society: Toward a Revolutionary Transformation. Fred Magdoff and Chris Williams.
Defiant Earth: The Fate of Humans in the Anthropocene.  Clive Hamilton.
Disaster Capitalism: Making a Killing Out of Catastrophe.  Antony Loewenstein.
Dronescapes: The New Aerial Photography from Dronestragram.  Ayperi Karabuda Ecer, editor.
Earth Eats: Real Food, Green Living. Annie Corrigan with Daniel Orr.
Ecology or Catastrophe: The Life of Murray Bookchin.  Janet Biehl.
Energy Without Conscience: Oil, Climate Change, and Complicity.  David McDermott Hughes.
The Evolution of Beauty: How Darwin's Forgotten Theory of Mate Choice Shapes the Animal World---And Us.  Richard O. Prum.
Gifford Pinchot: Selected Writings.  Edited by Char Miller
Global Environmental Politics.  Kate O'Neill and Stacy D. VanDeveer, Editors.
Henry David Thoreau: A Life.  Laura Dassow Walls.
The Hour of the Land.  Terry Tempest Williams.
Ice Blink: Navigating Northern Environmental History.  Edited by Stephen Bocking and Brad Martin.
Is Birdsong Music?: Outback Encounters with an Australian Songbird.  Hollis Taylor.
Land!  The Case for an Agrarian Economy (John Crowe Ransom).  Edited by Jason Peters.
Late Victorian Holocausts: El Nino Famines and the Making of the Third World.  Mike Davis.
Living Through the End of Nature: The Future of American Environmentalism.  Paul Wapner.
The New Agrarian Mind. Allan C. Carlson.
Other Minds: The Octopus, the Sea, and the Deep Origins of Consciousness.  Peter Godfrey Smith.
Patterns in Nature: Why the Natural World Looks the Way it Does.  Philip Ball.
Plundered Skulls and Stolen Spirits: Inside the Fight to Reclaim America's Native Culture. Chip Colwell.
Radical Technologies: The Design of Everyday Life.  Adam Greenfield.
Read, Listen, Tell: Indigenous Stories From Turtle Island.  Edited by Sophie McCall, Deanna Reder, David Gaertner, and Gabrielle L'Hirondelle Hall.
Reality Check: How Science Deniers Threaten Our Future. Donald R. Prothero.
Rising Tides: Climate Refugees in the Twenty-First Century.  John R. Wennersten and Denise Robbins.
Science and Religion: A Historical Introduction, 2nd edition.  Edited by Gary B. Ferngren.
Selling Local: Why Local Food Movements Matter. Jennifer Meta Robinson and James Robert Farmer.
Song of Increase: Listening to the Wisdom of Honeybees for Kinder Beekeeping and a Better World. Jacqueline Freeman.
Sustainable Food Systems: The Role of the City.  Robert Biel (free PDF Download).
Tales of an Ecotourist:  What Travel to Wild Places Can Teach Us about Climate Change.  Mike Gunter, Jr.
Thank You Fossil Fuels & Good Night: The Twenty-First Century's Energy Transition.  Gregory Meehan.
Thoreau and the Language of Trees.  Richard Higgins.
The Transhumanist Wager.  Zoltan Istvan
Watershed Discipleship: Reinhabiting Bioregional Faith and Practice.  Ched Myers, ed.; foreword by Denise M. Nadeau.
When the Hills Are Gone: Frac Sand Mining and the Struggle for Community (forthcoming).  Thomas Pearson.
Why Birds Sing.  David Rothenberg.
Wilderness Forever: Howard Zahniser and the Path to the Wilderness Act.  Mark Harvey.
Books on the theme of The Brave New World of Gene Editing:

A Crack in Creation: Gene Editing and the Unthinkable Power to Control Evolution.  Jennifer A. Doudna and Samuel H. Sternberg.
DNA Is Not Destiny: The Remarkable, Completely Misunderstood Relationship Between You and Your Genes.  Steven J. Heine.
The Gene Machine: How Genetic Technologies Are Changing the Way We Have Kids---and the Kids We Have.  Bonnie Rochman.
Books by the same author:

David Helvarg:

50 Ways to Save the Ocean
Blue Frontier: Dispatches from America's Ocean Wilderness
The Golden Shore: California's Love Affair with the Sea
The Ocean and Coastal Conservation Guide: The Blue Movement Directory
Rescue Warriors: The U.S. Coast Guard, America's Forgotten Heroes
Saved the Seas: Hope, Heartbreak and Wonder in the Blue World

Other Media: 

Blue Frontier, and ocean conservation and policy group at .

Celebrating Wendell Berry in Music two-volume audio cd
Vol. 1, disc one: In Song and Shade (poetry readings by Wendell Berry; choral music/art songs composed by Andrew Mayfield.
Vol. 1, disc two: On Wendell's Farm (Berry poetry and Eric Bibb music)
Vol. 2, All the Earth Shall Sing (18 tracks of poetry readings and music)

Chasing Coral.  Documentary appearing on Netflix.

Christians and the Environment.  An eBook from Sojourners. also available at .

Surf Your Watershed site by entering your zip code at

The 28th Annual Energy Fair: Clean Energy + Sustainable Living.  St. Paul, MN Sept. 9-10, 2017. .

Fate of the Earth Lecture Series, Oct. 11, 2017, Elizabeth Kolbert speaker (author of The Sixth Extinction), NYC.  Prior event, lecture by Bill McKibben, can be seen .


More Americans now work in solar power than in all of America's coal mines, oil fields, and gas extraction operations combined."  Harvey Wasserman; he wrote Solartopia!: Our Green-Powered Earth, edits and his "Green Power & Wellness" radio show is at
"Global warming is the biggest thing humans have ever done."  Bill McKibben of .
"Neither liberals nor conservatives have stood up to the ravaging of farmland by the industrial economy."  Wendell Berry.
"In order to achieve the sort of limitlessness of the living world that we have begun to call 'sustainability,' strict limits must be observed."  Wendell Berry.

Wendell Berry's rewording of the Golden Rule: "Do unto those downstream as you would have those upstream do unto you."
....advice from The Christian Century magazine (subtitle is "Thinking Critically, Living Faithfully")

The Works of Mercy                                The Works of War

Feed the Hungry                                        Destroy Crops and Land
Give Drink to the Thirsty                            Seize Food Supplies
Clothe the Naked                                       Destroy Homes and Villages
Visit the Sick                                              Scatter Families
Shelter the Homeless                                Contaminate Water
To Visit the Prisoners                                 Imprison Dissenters
To Bury the Dead                                       Inflict Wounds and Burns
Pray for the Living and the Dead               Kill the Living

....calligraphy graphic from The Catholic Worker monthly newspaper

Religion that is pure and faultless (undefiled, genuine, acceptable) in the sight of God the Father means to care for orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself from being polluted (unstained, unspotted) by the world.  James 1:27

Note for discussion:  If we might use a modern understanding of pollution in this regard, we might very well begin with where we live: in our built environment and the pollution that ensues from within such.

For a recent summary of indoor air quality, derived from a summit between The Atlantic Magazine and the Dyson Corporation, see 

Of course if we consider the admonition as "refusing to let the world corrupt us", "remain uncorrupted by this world", or to "keep one's soul without defilement from the world", such an interpretation would lead us into a different discussion, beyond the scope intended here.