God is calling us to live differently. The challenges we face are imminent. GreenFaith provides vision, inspiration, and practical tools to help you build your faith while inhabiting a creation that is at risk. With honesty and candor, Fletcher Harper shows that it takes belief and practice, science and faith to sustain us and our planet. The book gives concrete examples and tips that will help people of faith and worshiping communities engage in Earth care—in bold, life-giving ways. Each chapter has questions to guide personal study and group conversation.
All bets are off if we go over the climate change cliff—a disaster greater than many Hurricane Sandys. There is no doubt that climate change is happening. While debated for years and despite some media reports to the contrary, the majority of people are ready to take action to avoid calamity. But what action is advisable or even possible? What can ordinary people do in the face of such staggering problems? Can or should faith communities play a part? Fletcher Harper shows how we can make a difference and make Earth a better world for all of us.
“Spirituality, stewardship and justice are key criteria proposed by Harper to green our faith traditions and pulpits--a most urgent task in our times. Valuable both as an introduction and to help us deepen our commitments to faith and the environment.”
--Dr. Guillermo Kerber, Programme Executive for Care for Creation and Climate Justice, World Council of Churches, Geneva, Switzerland
In this book Fletcher Harper takes on the noble and critical task of inspiring and motivating the faith community to take action in caring for God’s creation. He challenges stereotypes about the Bible and Christian theology in regard to its message about nature, and he explores many of the world’s major faith traditions for significant practices and teachings on the environment. He shares meaningful stories from his work with GreenFaith that provide a window onto humankind’s troubled relationship to the natural world. This book contributes to a growing body of work that shows the religious and spiritual element of the ecological crisis, and the importance of the faith community’s involvement in solving difficult environmental issues. Those who are seeking spiritual depth while wondering about the future of the planet – whether they are members of a faith community or not – will benefit immensely from taking the time to read this book and consider another narrative about the role of faith in ecological ethics.
-Rev. Dr. Daniel R. Smith, Lutheran Church of the Incarnation in Davis, CA
…The very first thing that God asks of those of us in the Judeo-Christian tradition is to exercise dominion over this earth, to dress and to keep it. Our dominion so far has been a pretty sorry affair: we’re turning the generally benign order of the Holocene into overheated chaos. It’s the great adventure of our time to try and reconnect with the world around us, and to do it with sufficient speed to save as much of the DNA around us as we can. But it requires our species learning how to fit in to the larger whole, which is precisely the task we were assigned in Genesis 1. This slim volume is a handbook for starting that process—for the inquiry we need to undertake if we’re going to be the people we’ve been called to be. If ever there was a book for its moment in time, this is it.
-Bill McKibben, Schumann Distinguished Scholar, Middlebury College
from the foreword
From his very first sentence, “Nature, the outdoors, the environment, is fundamental to religious faith and spirituality,” Harper makes it absolutely clear that religion and environment can be and should be closely linked. He provides a close reading of the Bible to demonstrate that environmental stewardship is, in fact, a central, though often overlooked, tenet of both Christianity and Judaism. Harper digs deeper, though, and explores the world’s other great religious traditions and demonstrates that a deep environmental ethic is embedded in each of them. He explains that “To be a person of faith, a spiritual person, now means to love the Earth as well as loving people.”
Harper’s text goes well beyond an analysis of various faith traditions, however, and becomes a clarion call to action. “We need to commit, and to act now. We need faiths to step forward, to use our collective influence in the service of this profoundly good, loving vision – eliminating dire poverty and restoring the Earth.” In compelling prose, Harper explains the dire consequences our unbridled actions have had on the Earth and all of its species, both plants and animals. He explores what is likely to happen if we don’t act, and act soon. As he notes, “The time has arrived for Christianity to recognize creation’s basic dignity alongside humanity’s.” But his is not a pessimistic message. He discusses numerous examples where religious communities have come together to make significant environmental differences and argues that together we can do much more. Together we can re-make the world, if only we have the spiritual will to do so. Much of the impetus needed for actions of the sort most needed can be found within this provocative, insightful and moving book.
-Michael Zimmerman, Founder and Executive Director, The Clergy Letter Project and Vice President for Academic Affairs, The Evergreen State College
Two generations after Aldo Leopold called for an "ecological conscience" in his "Sand County Almanac," Fletcher Harper offers a context within which people of every major faith tradition, and no tradition in particular, can answer that call. He starts simply: "No earth, no faith." In the opening chapters he reveals how the earth is the gift that shapes our faith, and then in a pivotal interlude he gives a rich definition of "environment" that leads to the concluding chapters in which he presents realistic steps for shaping vision, encouraging economic development, and taking action. He makes complex concepts accessible and ends each chapter with provocative questions for every individual and group.
The Rev. Phil Blackwell, retired United Methodist minister