Love God Heal Earth, by Rev Canon Sally G. Bingham, et al.
July 1, 2012
Love God Heal Earth is a compilation of essays, from leaders of 11 religions and denominations, that delve into the religious call for a transition to a sustainable way of life. While not devoid of science, this book presents a deeply spiritual, personal, and hopeful message that moves beyond the intellectual reality of global climate change. In other words, it is a powerful complement to the grim facts of An Inconvenient Truth.
Rev. Bingham assembled the author list from among her contacts in the network of state-level Interfaith Power and Light organizations, of which her California group was the first (and her Regeneration Project is the "umbrella"). These authors are all active in promoting a lower impact way of life, in teaching about climate change, and in encouraging an ethic of "creation care." They come from diverse backgrounds, representing Buddhism, Christianity (in multiple forms), Islam, Judaism, and Unitarianism. But their diversity is more than just religious. One of the most striking aspects to this book is seeing how these authors navigated from the traditional cares of their communities, which tend to see conservation as at best someone else's job, into the field of creation care.
In that regard, I was particularly inspired by Rev. Dr. Gerald Durley, pastor of the Providence Missionary Baptist Church in Atlanta. He describes how his passion for racial justice in America was suddenly transformed into an awareness of ecological impacts on communities – an awareness of eco-justice. "The light is on and it must continue to shine in all of our lives, to let us see that most living things are being harmed because we are not aware nor globally concerned about what it will take to save the environment," Rev. Durley writes. My copy of the book is riddled with little pink sticky notes. His chapter has none, because there was nothing I wanted to single out. It is an entire essay I will return to often.
Those sticky notes mark out dozens of resources, ideas, and inspiring passages. These will be of great help to anyone wishing to engage in religiously-motivated action for the betterment of the planet. That action might be in the form of political activism, or of intra-denominational or ecumenical eco-theology. You will find inspiration here. If you find yourself wanting to change more than just light bulbs (although that is a good start), you will find inspiration. If your wish is to envision a life less-mired in materialism, or one that steps boldly beyond the critics on left (anti-religion) and right (anti-environmentalism), then you too will find a muse.
In closing this review, I share a passage from the Rev. Jim Deming, United Church of Christ, Nashville, TN (p 49), which leaves me with a feeling of realism, but also of hope.
There will be times of backsliding and confession, but there will also be times of grace and insight that are God's reward for doing justice, loving kindness, and walking humbly with our God. Let us humbly invite our neighbor and walk humbly to the future together.
Review of Love God Heal Earth: 21 Leading Religious Voices Speak Out on Our Sacred Duty to Protect the Environment, by Rev. Canon Sally G. Bingham et al. Published in 2009 by St. Lynn's Press, Pittsburgh, PA. No goods or services were received in return for this review.