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Kristine Kay Hasse Memorial Library Blog

Environment and Religion Resources for Earth Day and Arbor Day

by Natalie Whitaker on 2021-04-22T08:00:00-05:00 | Comments

This Thursday, April 22nd is Earth Day, “A day to demonstrate support for environmental protection. As Christians the earth is an important part of our faith since, in the beginning, God gave man “dominion” over the earth and its creatures in Genesis. There is a lot of debate and discussion over the Christian’s responsibility and position when it comes to environmental issues. So to help in working through these considerations, here are some resources we have found around the library:

The LCMS published a really useful report on the position of Christians and the environment in April 2010, Together with all Creatures: Caring for God’s Living Earth. This text attempts to work through the central question of how do we as Christians picture the world and our place in it. A particularly interesting section on p. 50-51 brings in the position of sin and the example of Christ when it comes to the concept of dominion: “sin distorts our calling to take care of the earth and its creatures. The human rebellion against God was at root a desire to be more than creaturely, a desire to rise above and overcome our creatureliness” (50). However, Christ came as a humanly creature and set an example of how “what it means to reflect the image of God and to exercise dominion or lordship within creation” (51).

Other books from the stacks that you may find useful on this topic of Christianity and the Environmental are listed below and are on display in our first floor Blog display section in reference (which also includes other books on this topic):

Cover ArtAn Introduction to Christian Environmentalism by Kathryn D. Blanchard; Kevin J. O'Brien
Call Number: BT695.5 .B536 2014
ISBN: 9781481301732
Publication Date: 2014-11-15

Finally, there are several articles in our periodicals that discuss various aspects of this topic. Following are there citation information and abstract to get an idea of whether they would be of use to you.

Article in Environmental Ethics (Spring 2020, Vol. 42, No. 1, pp.5-20)

“Adaptation, Transformation, and Development: Environmental Change and Rethinking of the Human Good” by Allen Thompson

If sustainability is about maintaining human welfare across generations but we acknowledge that climate change may undercut our ability to deliver as much and as good total or natural capital to subsequent generations, we have a residual duty to otherwise positively affect the welfare of future generations. A subjective, preference-based, conception of human welfare is compared to an objective, capabilities based approach and , while some adaptive preferences are unavoidable, embracing an objective theory of human flourishing provides a superior approach for meeting the residual duty we have to future generations by beginning the process of adapting our conception of human natural goodness, or what it is to be a good human being. – From Abstract, p. 5


Article in Colloquium: The Australian and New Zealand Theological Review (July 2020, Vol. 52, Issue 1, pp. 34-50)

“Reverencing Matter: An Ecotheological Reading of John Damascene’s Three Treatises on the Divine Images” by Deborah Guess

Ecologically related discourse generally argues that changes human behavior is necessary for addressing the environmental crisis and that a view that the natural world is worthy and essentially good encourages people to live sustainably. Ecological theology endorses the importance of viewing the created world kindly and benevolently. One set of Christian tracts that portrays the material world in a positive way is the Three Treatises on the Divine Images by John of Damascus. The treatises argue in favour of the making and veneration of images and suggest that because matter is divinely created and indwelled, it is inherently good. If the material world is intrinsically good, then it is to be respected and cared for, a notion which contests positivist or mechanized worldviews that have sanctioned environmental neglect or abuse. The treatises draw on, and are representative of, a strong Christian trajectory which can undergird a revitalized theology of matter that might enable a Christian response to the present ecological crisis. – Abstract, p.34


Article in Studies in Christian Ethics (November 2020, Vol. 33, No. 4, pp. 529-548)

“What Christian Environmental Ethics can learn from Stewardship’s Critics and Competitors” by Frederick V. Simmons

In this article I distill a trio of lessons for Christian environmental ethics from the stewardship model’s detractors and rivals. I begin by delineating stewardship and explaining the model’s initial prevalence as Christians’ primary response to widespread recognition of environmental crisis and their faith’s alleged culpability for it. I then distinguish two waves of criticism that, by denouncing stewardship’s substance and method, thoroughly discredited the model among Christian ethicists. Yet, as stewardship was being rejected for its susceptibility to anthropocentrism, one of its chief competitors – the land ethic – was being repudiated for its liability to misanthropy. I argue that these developments give Christians cause to (1) affirm a hierarchical non-anthropocentrism that prioritizes human interests; (2) premise such that priority in part on human embrace of non-anthropocentrism; and (3) interpret environmental ethics as more than a matter of models like stewardship. – Abstract, p.529

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