Weekender: June 3, 2017

Weekender: 06/03/2017

Welcome to the weekend! Each week, we like to offer a few quick highlights from our week that we think will give you something worthwhile to think about over the weekend. Enjoy this week’s Weekender and add to it in the comments below!

This is a special edition of Weekender. Donald Trump’s withdrawal from the Paris Agreements has raised questions for many. The church needs to face these questions head-on. We worship God the Creator of All Things. What does that mean for us? How do we respond? How can we participate in the movement of God to make all things new? The resources offered below are not all specifically Christian. They are given for the sake of perspective.

Quotes Worth Repeating

“All life is interrelated…Whatever affects one directly affects all indirectly…There is an interrelated structure of reality.” From “Letters from Birmingham Jail,” by Martin Luther King Jr.

“Strange though it may sound, lament is something we need to learn to do…Scripture is altogether our best guide to prayer, but you have to ask: How can it guide us in this situation? How could an ancient text possibly shed light on a thoroughly modern oil spill? Of course the biblical writers did not know about this particular technological disaster. However, there is one biblical voice, the prophet Jeremiah, who teaches us to lament over the suffering we have caused the earth and calls us to be reconciled with both God and the created order. Jeremiah spoke to and for God in the face of a disaster as devastating as this one: a prolonged and deadly drought, which left animals and people desperate with thirst, and ruined the once-fertile land of Judah. We would be inclined to say that drought is a natural disaster, and therefore quite unlike this oil spill, but Jeremiah would say that the earth always and everywhere suffers as a result of human sin.” From a sermon called “Learning to Lament” by Ellen Davis.

Videos to Watch

  1. Norman Wirzba: “Why Theological Education Needs Ecology”
  2. Ellen Davis: “Christians and Creation”

Books to Read

  1. The Unsettling of America by Wendell Berry
  2. From Nature to Creation by Norman Wirzba
  3. Shalom and the Community of Creation by Randy Woodley
  4. Making Peace with the Land by Fred Bahnson and Norman Wirzba
  5. Laudato Si’ by Pope Francis

Essays to Read

  1. Whose Earth is it Anyway?” by James Cone
  2. “Christianity and the Survival of Creation” by Wendell Berry
  3. “Jesus is Coming! Plant a Tree” by N.T. Wright
  4. “Globalization and the War against Farmers and the Land” by Vandana Shiva
  5. “The Uses of Prophecy” by David Orr

You might also find some of my (Zen) writing on the subject useful (and more accessible). Click here for a list of posts on Theology Forum. I’ve also written on these matters for The Other Journal and my previous blog Faith Commune. I’ve also abridged my thesis bibliography so that it contains only books, essays, and articles directly related to this topic. You can download the PDF by clicking here.

Websites to Visit

These websites are denominationally affiliated but are loaded with helpful resources.

  1. Mennonite Creation Care Network
  2. UCC Environmental Ministries
  3. PCUSA Environmental Ministries
  4. Catholic Creation Care

Add your resources, books, essays, videos to the list in the comments below!


Weekender: April 22, 2017

This is the first of a weekly post we are calling “Weekender.” It is a collection of things worth thinking about. Think with us or add to the list in the comments.

Quote: “Nothing true can be said about God from a posture of defense.” From Gilead by Marilynne Robinson. Theology Forum’s Kent Eilers recently published an essay, in the winter edition of the journal CRUX, reflecting on how God is imagined in Lila, one of Marilynne Robinson’s other books.

Blog Post to Read: “What’s Right With the Church” by Doug Haney on Will Willimon’s blog. This readable post gives a practical, positive approach to congregational ministry.

Interesting Insight: Sermon content is the “major reason” why 75% of Americans go to church, according to a recent Gallup Poll.

Fortunately, there are many great resources to help us reflect on what it means to preach faithfully. Recently, I (Zen) have been captivated by the collected sermons of Ellen Davis, Barbara Brown Taylor, and Hans Boersma. Others on Theology Forum have written about preaching too. Check out some of those posts here.

Surprisingly, good music comes in pretty far down on the list.

Questions: I spent Thursday, Friday, and Saturday morning at Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary (Elkhart, IN) for their annual “Rooted and Grounded” conference. There were many thoughtful and provocative papers and conversations. So, questions this week are related to some of those presentations. If you’re interested in considering these questions more deeply, Wipf & Stock recently published a collection of selected essays from the conference’s inaugural year.

  • How does a congregation nurture sustained attention on and engagement with the practice of creation care?
  • Is the pulpit the appropriate place to address climate change or related matters? Why or why not?
  • What responsibility do contemporary Christian’s bear in making reparations for their tradition’s participation in historical sins? (Mennonites at the conference, for example, were raising this question related to Mennonites complicity in exiling indigenous peoples from their lands in northern Indiana.)
  • Do certain ways of reading Scripture lead to a more natural acceptance of Christian responsibility for caring for God’s creation? Do other ways lead to a greater resistance toward proactive care for the environment?
  • What are ways that we can practice evangelism that do not repeat the historical sin of colonialism?

Enjoy your weekend!