Thursday, December 4, 2014

12/14 Creation Corner Column: Intro. to Christian Environmentalism book: A needed perspective

 An Intro. to Christian Environmentalism: A Needed perspective

An Introduction to Christian Environmentalism by K. Blanchard and K. O'Brien may be just the book you have been waiting for, especially if you have been hesitant to speak out about controversial topics such as hydraulic fracturing, fossil fuels divestment, and the the like.  The perspective offered here is to go to your Christian values (the moral and theological virtues), speak from your heart while being well-informed on your subject.  

While many denominations have produced environmental stewardship guidebooks for their parishioners, and some commercial and university publishers have issued books of readings on the subject of religion and the environment, as well as titles on Christian ecology topics, this may be the first text relating Christian virtues to environmental problems.

At this date, the book is recently published and thus there are no customer reviews on-line.  But the table of contents invites prospective readers to examine their moral virtues (prudence, courage, temperance, justice) and their theological virtues (faith, hope, love) and asks how they might apply to pressing eco-threats, by seeking a "golden mean" between contemporary extreme arguments in the general discourse of how to address enviro-concerns.  Thus, to apply seven virtues to seven problems in one world, they propose: 

Prudence guides our approach to species survival, between selfless conservation and self-interested stewardship.

Courage (fortitude) is needed to develop energy sources, between fossil fuels, alternative energies, and Sabbath Living.

Temperance (restraint) is applied in how our food is produced and how we personally consume it.

Justice ought to be the goal sought in any approach to environmental injustice (such as toxic pollution), not revolution or reform.

Faith is to be our companion as we encounter climate change, responding in personal and political and technological ways.

Hope is an obligation, and needs to hold our aspirations about our human future, not despair or presumption.

Love (charity) motivates us inasmuch as our earth-keeping advocacy and action is not limited to public protest or personal transformation.

Sub-titled "Ecology, Virtue, and Ethics", and published in paperback (230 pages) by Baylor University Press ( 1-800-537-5487), An Introduction to Christian Environmentalism is co-authored by Kathryn Blanchard (Assoc. Prof. of Religious Studies at Alma College) and Kevin O'Brien (Assoc. Prof. of Religion at Pacific Lutheran University).  They conclude their effort with a closing chapter entitled "Practicing Virtue in a 'World of Wounds'."

For earlier examples of books on this subject see this Creation Corner Column of July 2014 and December 2013.