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Worshiping God. Loving His people. Caring for His creation.
A C H R I S T I A N E N V I R O N M E N TA L Q U A R T E R LY
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Welcome to the right place. Creation Care magazine and Evangelical Environmental Network are online at www.creationcare.org with back issues, articles, updates, links, and opportunities to help honor the Creator by caring for what He has made.
CHRISTMAS WAS MEANT TO CHANGE THE WORLD. Advent Conspiracy is an international movement restoring the scandal of Christmas by worshipping Jesus through
C ONNECTING to GOD’S C REATION
compassion, not consumption. EEN’s in. Are you? Read more about the Conspiracy inside this issue.
Restoring the Scandal of Christmas ➤ Forgotten Footprint: Inviting creation to your yard ➤ Christian Environmentalism: Debunking the myths ➤
[ VISIT WWW.ADVENTCONSPIRACY.ORG ]
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N U M B E R
F E A T U R E S 6 R ESTORING THE S CANDAL OF C HRISTMAS A Christmas conspiracy that will revolutionize your church. by Rick McKinley
10 L EAVE N O C HILD I NSIDE Time spent outdoors shapes character, health, and environmental attitudes. by Larry Schweiger Children who ﬁsh, camp and spend time in the wild before age 11 are much more likely to grow up to be environmentally-minded and committed as adults STORY PG. 10
ALSO INSIDE: 16 A BOVE THE A RCTIC C IRCLE In the Arctic, global warming itself is unlocking the very resources fueling its rise. by Jim Ball
by Peter Illyn
18 I NVITING C REATION TO M Y Y ARD Starting in our yards, we can begin the process of becoming stewards of Creation. by Tim Keyes
29 N O S MALL J OY Maybe the things that we think we need to protect us keep the joy out rather than in. by Rachel Stone
21 C REATION C ARE IN THE N EWS Evangelicals Warming to Climate Legislation; Volunteerism Stuck in Trafﬁc; Congress Considers Federal Farm Bill
30 C REATION C ARE ON THE R ANCH Latigo Ranch is a hidden vacation destination that deserves wider recognition. by Stan LeQuire
23 M Y D REAM In creation care, seeing the goal is a part of following God’s leading. by Dorothy Boorse
32 C HRISTIAN E NVIRONMENTALISM : D EBUNKING THE M YTHS Three popular misconceptions put to rest.
24 H OW E VANGELICALS V IEW THE F UTURE The future of God’s creation lies in the hands of American evangelicals. by Matthew Sleeth
26 A U S ABLE N AMES N EW P RESIDENT Creation Care sits down with Ed Johnson.
by Scott Sabin
34 E XPRESSING C REATION Poems from Gina Marie Mammano V. and Steven Elliot.
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FROM THE EDITOR
s we send off this issue, my home state of Georgia is, like so many other places, in the midst of a 100-year drought. Many Georgians are considering water conservation in earnest. At our house, we’ve long since given up outdoor watering with the hose (watering the lawn never happened anyway). My inner-self likes an environmental challenge, especially if it involves (a) being more self-sufﬁcient, (b) buying some neat new gadget, or (c) getting out some power tools. We’ve just set up rain barrels under our downspouts. Long ago we replaced the high-ﬂow toilet with a low-ﬂow model, added faucet aerators and ﬂow restricters, and got a cool low-ﬂow shower head with a shut-off switch for the lathering-up phase. We’re even saving our used shower water in a bucket for ﬂushing the toilet, and have actually shut off the water supply to the loo. Our two sons have no objection to indoor water conservation (baths have never been a high priority). My wife and I feel a little pinch, but right now trying to use less water amounts to a kind of puzzle-solving, alternating between inconvenience and a feeling of achievement, or even of fun. Georgia’s drought is probably more than a local crisis, and may be a harbinger of things to come: drier weather is what most of the climate models predict for our region under global warming scenarios—a gradual shift from temperate forest to arid savannah. We can’t tell for sure. But for now I’m not too worried about the effect of the drought on my family’s health or my crops (a few lateseason tomatoes and spinach). Our water conservation efforts are good for us—they build stewardship into our character. But the main beneﬁts accrue to others—making space for downstream farmers, for ﬁshermen, and for God’s other creatures to survive. Rick McKinley’s article this month is about another way that small actions, good for us in themselves, can beneﬁt others and build the common good. The Advent Conspiracy provides a way that churches can work together to save their families from the grip of commercialism at Christmas and at the same time help save other families around the world from the lack of safe clean water. Now’s the time to get your church and fellowship groups organized to be part of the Advent Conspiracy. What’s the creation care angle? Lack of clean water may be the world’s most critical shortterm environmental problem (affecting over a billion people), and anything we do to reduce consumption and simplify the holidays reduces global warming pollution, which is the world’s most critical long-term environmental problem! It’s not too early to start planning for a different kind of Christmas. Rusty Pritchard
A Christian Environmental Quarterly Number 34, Fall 2007 www.creationcare.org Editorial and Administration Publisher Jim Ball (email@example.com) Editor Rusty Pritchard (firstname.lastname@example.org) Contributing Editors Cliff Benzel, Jason Chatraw, Gary Fawver, Helen Goody, David Gushee, Peter Illyn, Tim Keyes, Stan LeQuire, Greg Pitchford, Ron Sider, Matthew Sleeth, Drew Ward, Fred Wiechmann Advisory Editors Andy Crouch, Jim Jewell, Kristyn Komarnicki, Alexei Laushkin, Matt Smartt Graphic Design The Puckett Group Ofﬁce Manager Lesa Stone Creation Care is published quarterly by the Evangelical Environmental Network. We strive to help readers care for creation in a way that is faithful to God, as revealed in Jesus Christ, in His Word, and in His created order. All content is copyrighted © 2007 by the Evangelical Environmental Network. Articles, essays, photographs and other contributions are welcome. We reserve the right to select all materials, which should be submitted via email or to the Editorial Ofﬁce with a self-addressed envelope and return postage. Publisher assumes no responsibility for return of unsolicited material. Writer’s guidelines are available via email or at our website, creationcare.org. Subscription Information Creation Care magazine is mailed to all active supporters of this ministry. Suggested minimum donation: $30 U.S. Donations must be in U.S. dollars. Send contributions to: EEN/Creation Care 4485 Tench Road, Suite 850 Suwanee, GA 30024 For credit card donations, please donate online at our website, www.creationcare.org, or call (678) 541-0747. Entered as third-class bulk, non-proﬁt postage. Printed on recycled paper (minimum 10% post-consumer content). Please pass it on!
By Rick McKinley
Restoring the Scandal of Christmas A Christmas Conspiracy that Will Revolutionize Your Church
very Christmas it happens; I get excited for the celebration of Jesus’ birth—that moment in history when all of scripture came to life! God became ﬂesh. The Christ-child moved into our neighborhoods and revealed to us another Kingdom: pregnant Mary, evil empires, and that moment when the world stood still to worship with the angels. It was the pinnacle moment of redemptive history! And then I get depressed; inundated with commercials of what new gadget to buy, people in mad rushes to get more stuff, credit cards opening up sinkholes that people will be climbing out of for months to come, and newscasters telling us that ﬁghts are breaking out at Wal-Mart over the last X-box 360. It isn’t just THEM! It’s us too! We’re missing out on this powerful moment of worship that changed the world because we are spending every spare moment buying meaningless sweaters for uncle so and so. Can you name two presents you got last Christmas? I can! For the ﬁrst time, I can tell you what I got for Christmas, ten months after Christmas is over. We preach of His greatness, we sing the songs, and for that sacred hour on Sunday we get pulled back into what matters most. Then we are quickly hit in the head by an elbow of a competing shopper assuring us that what matters most is not what matters most. Last Christmas, some pastor-friends and I pulled the plug on Christmas. What started out as an experiment ended up transforming us, our people and a whole bunch of other people with whom we shared the love of Christ. We worshipped the Baby as though it was for the ﬁrst time. Because God gave us His Son—the world
has never been the same. So here’s the story and I am praying that as you read it you will want to join us. It’s so simple it’s scary; so revolutionary it’s world-changing. We decided that we would ask our people to live the advent story—not just talk and sing about it or dress up like shepherds. We asked them to live counterculture lives that modeled our celebration after His incarnation. Christ resisted the empire of Herod by coming in weakness as a baby, making Herod so insecure that he murdered hundreds of toddlers. We decided we would resist the empire of consumerism and spend a lot less. Because God gave us a relational gift, his Son, we decided to give meaningful and relational gifts too. We didn’t want to focus on just buying stuff but rather concentrate on things we could make, trips to take, poems to write—the kind of things you keep forever and will recall a year from now when someone asks you what you got for Christmas last year. Since Christ re-distributed his wealth by becoming poor to make us rich, we redistributed our wealth also. We took all the money we saved by giving relational gifts and we gave an offering with the money that was left over. We brought in close to half a million dollars between ﬁve churches. Crazy! We adopted low-income schools and blessed hundreds of people, locally and globally, with the monies we raised. We also decided that we would use a large portion of the money to bring clean water to people around the world whose very lives are at risk because they don’t have clean drinking water. Just this week I received pictures of four wells we drilled in Liberia. People are drinking clean water because God gave us the Water of Life. Because Christ was worshipped, we worshipped the Baby in a way we never had before. The kids led the way. Everyone feared they would hate it, but it turned out that they understood it better than the adults. Some children emptied their whole piggy banks the day we took the offering. The Imago Dei Kids bought alpacas
for some families in South America. (We had a llama at church that day to show them something close to an alpaca.) Our worship started on Sunday and went all week. Instead of rushing to the malls, families were hanging out at home making gifts. Because God gave us His Son, we in turn were giving of ourselves to others. There were so many stories it was, and continues to be, somewhat overwhelming. It had a viral effect. The main factor was not the offering, or the meaningful gifts, or the hundreds of people who were helped— it was that everything we were doing pointed us back to The Story—God gave us His Son and we have never been the same. After an amazing last year, churches started asking us about what we did. So, we began to dream. What
if the church created a conspiracy of kindness at Christmas? What if every church in the West celebrated Christmas this way? What impact could that have on the proclamation of Christ in our communities and our world? So we created the Advent Conspiracy and we are inviting you to join the revolution. Now, every year we anticipate the coming of Christ at Christmas because we can’t wait to worship Him and see how He changes the world again! 10 billion dollars gets clean water to everyone in the world. 15 billion feeds everyone. In America we spend 450 billion at Christmas. Get the picture? The world is watching for the star to rise again and the people of God to gather around the Baby. Will you join us?
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Restoring the Scandal of Christmas
W HAT IS THE A DVENT C ONSPIRACY ? The Advent Conspiracy is a catalyst to help churches and organizations equip their people to engage in the Christmas story in a way that will transform their people and as a result bring transformation to the world through their people, as they worship Christ at Christmas. T HE F OUR T HEMES 1. Worship: The central theme of the Advent Conspiracy is that Jesus is worshipped in such a way that his followers experience the power of Christ coming into the world. This powerful story brings with it the promise of transformation in his followers as they celebrate His birth with faithfulness and integrity. People being led in this journey will not be competing with the consumerist impulses of our culture but instead be aligning themselves with Christ, thereby worshipping him in a holistic way. 2. Resisting the Empire: When Christ was born the empire was threatened and as a result Herod, who was one of the more powerful
that Americans would spend approximately $457.4 billion at Christmas in 2006.1 The American Research group estimated an average of $907.00 per family to be spent at Christmas in 2006.2 After the Holiday we work for months to get out of debt, only to ﬁnd that the presents we bought in the name of Christ furthered a consumerist mentality in our children and us and took our focus off of the greatness of Jesus. As Christfollowers, the Advent Conspiracy starts with us resisting a culture that tells us what to buy, wear and spend with no regard to bringing glory to Jesus. 3. Relational Giving: In saying “no” to over-spending we are then invited to say, “Yes” to give in relational ways. We do this because we worship a God who gave us a relational gift. God gave us His son. This is an incredible opportunity to reclaim the heart of what matters most as we learn together to give gifts of meaning instead of simple material gifts. Pictures, poems, pieces of art, a baseball bat and a trip with dad to the ballpark, all become relational alternatives that foster what matters most in life. In thinking in a new way about what it means to give ourselves to each other, we are transformed by the story of Advent, knowing that we give relationally because God gave relationally. Some organizations have done do-ityourself workshops to help their people learn the art of relational giving. Whatever you decide to do, the key is that you spend less and give relationally of yourself.
We didn’t want to focus on just buying stuff but
concentrate on the kind of things you keep forever kings of the day, ordered the killing of all the children two years old and under who were in Bethlehem. The reason for this was that he hoped to take out the childKing that posed a threat to his kingdom. While we are not living under Herod’s reign, there is another empire of consumerism and materialism that threatens our faithfulness to Jesus. Jesus brought with him an extraordinary Kingdom that is counter-culture to the kingdoms of this world. A part of saying “yes” to Jesus means that we say “no” to over-spending. We say “no” to overconsumption. We say “no” to these things so we can create space to say “yes” to Jesus and his reign in our lives. The National Retail Federation was forecasting
4. Re-Distribution: Christ, though he was rich, became poor to make many rich. It was in the Advent that Jesus entered our poverty so we would no longer be poor. With the money we save by giving relationally and resisting the empire we, in turn, re-distribute the money we saved to the least of these in our communities and world. We recommend that, before Christmas, each organization take an offering made up of the money that was saved through relational giving and resisting
on His behalf. How you go about spending the money for clean water is up to how God leads you. We will let him be the CEO on this, and just faithfully respond to him.
the empire. With these funds each church and organization decides how to re-distribute the money. It is an amazing picture when you see how much money is collected and how much good it can do in the world. In 2006 only ﬁve churches participated and they collected just under half of a million dollars. Through this kind of radical giving we are transformed by the advent story as we worship Jesus more faithfully. 5. Water: Advent Conspiracy exists to be a catalyst for the church to help us worship Jesus more fully at Christmas and therefore be transformed by the God of Advent. We believe that we are better together than we are apart and that each year the Advent of Christ should be an opportunity to declare to the world that God has given us the greatest gift. We are asking that each church and organization that participates designate at least 25% of the offering for clean water projects around the world. The vision is that in the next decade Christ-followers, acting as one people, can blot out the water crisis in the world. The estimated cost to solve the water problem is 10 billion dollars. This is doable given the number of churches and the amount of money that is spent on Christmas each year. According to the World Water Council, 1.1 billion people live without clean drinking water; 2.6 billion people lack adequate sanitation. 1.8 million people die every year from diarrhea diseases and 3,900 children die every day from water-borne diseases.3 It is truly a declaration to the world that Jesus cares and that is why He came and created the church to act
The Ins and Outs: We ask that you sign up at our website: Adventconspiracy.org. Through the site we will be providing you with great stories, helpful resources, recommended agencies that you can work through, and all the facts you will need. You will be able to use our blog to meet other people participating in the event. We only ask that you come back after the holiday and share your story with the rest of us; including how much money was re-distributed, in what ways it was distributed and what creative ways you discovered Christ’s transformation in your community. We will send out a monthly e-mail newsletter called the Co-Conspirator, with helpful information that can inspire your group as Advent approaches. For more information you can visit our site, Adventconspiracy.org or email Jeanne McKinley, Director of the Advent Conspiracy, at Jeans@imagodeicommunity. com. Rick McKinley is the founding pastor of Imago Dei Community in Portland, Oregon, a missional community. Rick is the co-creator of the Advent Conspiracy, an initiative designed to help solve the water crisis by calling Christians back to the real meaning of Christmas. He is also co-creator of Love Portland, a growing city-wide initiative designed to engage the church in strategic relationships with their community by serving neglected areas and people in the city. He is the author of Jesus in the Margins and This Beautiful Mess: Practicing the Presence of the Kingdom of God. Rick is married to his best friend, Jeanne, and they have four wonderful children. 1 The National Retail Federation, “NRF Sees Subdued Holiday Gains in 2006” September 19, 2006. www.nrf.com/content/default. asp?folder=press/release2006&ﬁle=holidayforecast0906.htm 2 American Research Group, Inc., “2006 Christmas Spending Plans Hold Steady” November 22, 2006. www.americanresearchgroup. com/holiday/ 3 D.Zimmer & D. Renault, “Water Crisis Facts and Figures” World Water Council, 2003. www.worldwatercouncil.org/index
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By Larry Schweiger
Leave No Child Indoors Time Spent Outdoors Shapes Character, Health, and Environmental Attitudes
was recently on a ﬂight from Washington, DC, to San Francisco. Sitting next to me in the left window seat was an obese boy who was about ten years old. His mom put him on the plane to visit his dad in California. As soon as our plane was over ten thousand feet, the boy broke out his Game Boy and settled in for a long and intense session. After a couple of hours of this, our pilot came on the intercom and said, “folks, off to our left is one of the best views you will ever see of the Grand Canyon.” I watched the boy. His eyes never left the Game Boy, not even for a second. I was saddened by this boy who had no apparent interest in the wonders of nature. It occurred to me that I was witnessing, ﬁrst hand, an important American phenomenon that is having a profound impact on our children’s future and the future of nature itself. What is happening to our connection to nature and where has outdoor time gone? There are many signs that something major — something profoundly different—is happening to the basic connection between Americans and the outdoors. The signs are everywhere: • In 2005 the Association for Childhood Education International reported that children’s outdoor time is down by 50% over previous generations. • A study published in Early Childhood in 2004 found that 85% of mothers reported that their children play outdoors less than they did as children. • In 2004 the Kaiser Family Foundation estimated that the average child now spends over 6 hours daily watching TV, playing video games or on a computer. But it is too easy to just blame modern electronic
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Leave No Child Indoors
technology for the change. There are other factors too. Many parents today are bombarded with media reports of “stranger danger” even though such crime is actually down by about 40% over previous generations. Many people say there is a lack of access to safe outdoor spaces. Others mention rising fuel prices, particularly with regard to outdoor vacations. Despite the trend, 93% of mothers report that they recognize the signiﬁcant beneﬁts of children spending more time outdoors for health and motor skill development reasons. Some 77% agreed that it improved childhood social skills and 82% saw outdoor play as a way to improve a child’s sense of self worth. Years ago, kids burned plenty of calories playing outdoors. A study in the Journal of Pediatrics, “Physical Activity Recommendations for School-Age Youth” found that “our children are just not burning up those calories today.” R EAL D ANGERS ARE I NSIDE I thought about the boy I sat next to on the ﬂight in comparison to my own youth. My mother would often say that I lived outdoors and I suspect many of you spent a great deal of your childhood free time in outdoors too.
though outdoor “stranger danger” is nothing compared to indoor threats. The risk of kidnapping by a stranger is one to two chances in a million. Most sexual assaults on children are from adults they already know. And yet, the risk of a child communicating with a sexual predator online is one in ﬁve. Concern about on-line danger is real and is supported by a 2005 Seventeen Magazine study of online teenage girls that found: • Twelve percent have agreed to meet in person with someone they have met only online. • Twenty-three percent have sent pictures to someone that they have met on the Internet. And according to recent ﬁndings, this is probably understated because kids are now afraid to tell their parents when some suspicious person contacts them online, because they don’t want their computer time taken away. The reality of the world we live in today is that children are more at risk of predation by strangers they meet in a chat room than by strangers in a park. Spending so much time in the screen space rather than in the green space isn’t something we should encourage. In fact, our moms were right. Being outside is healthier for a whole host of reasons.
Spending so much time in the screen space rather than in the green space isn’t something we should encourage My brothers and I roamed for hours across the hills of northern Allegheny County, climbing trees, building forts and constructing dams in the creeks. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention notes that the missing ingredient for most kids is an hour per day of unstructured activity. Researchers in such places as Chicago and Boston are studying how the nationwide childhood obesity epidemic may cause shorter life-spans for the next generation. They conclude that, while we have enjoyed increases in expected lifespan for several decades, the new lack of childhood activity and its extra pounds can lead to adult-onset diabetes and can actually shorten average lifespan from three to ﬁve years. Parents have become unnecessarily more fearful,
The “disconnect with nature” is not conﬁned to children; we are seeing changes in adult outdoor behavior as well: • Roper reports that in 2001 a decades-long pattern of increasing outdoor recreation participation in the U.S. shifted dramatically downward. • Of the 27 outdoor activities the survey has been tracking for the American Recreation Coalition, 21 displayed a reduction while just six showed an increase. • The National Park Service and many state parks departments report that attendance is down some 20 percent over the past ten years. • Importantly, the Roper surveys show that the drop in participation is particularly noteworthy among young adults (19% to 24% less outdoor activity) – this is
also the group that reports high levels of access to the Internet. • Ironically, The Roper report documents convincingly that Americans of all ages see the importance of increased outdoor time.
D OES I T M ATTER ? You might be asking, so what? Why does it matter to society whether or not our kids go outside? As a conservationist, I am concerned that there is an important link between being outdoors and caring for nature. Children who ﬁsh, camp and spend time in the wild before age 11 are much more likely to grow up to be environmentally-minded and committed as adults, according to Cornell researchers. Their study indicates that participating in wild nature activities before age 11 is a “particularly potent pathway toward shaping both environmental attitudes and behaviors in adulthood,” When the Kaiser Family Foundation research showed kids are now spending six hours or more hours a day in front of a screen, we all should be worried about that. Let me suggest that the unprecedented threat from global warming has been far too long ignored by indoor people who spend their time in front of a TV or computer isolated in an air-conditioned space. I worry that we will not address global warming…
until it interferes with our television reception. The media makes matters worse by giving us information and entertainment they think we want—not what we may need. They fail to cover what’s happening to the outside world because they have concluded we are not that interested in the natural world and what is happening to it. As an example, a team of scientists from the University of Alaska at Fairbanks published an alarming report indicating that methane is leaking from the vast stores frozen under the Siberian tundra at ﬁve times the rate that earlier scientists had found. This ﬁnding suggests that the planet is hitting a tipping point, where human-caused warming is forcing nature to give up methane which is 20-30 times more potent a heattrapping gas than CO2. Scientists also estimate that there may be 70-80 billion tons under Siberia waiting to escape. This alarming study was published and released to the public last September. The media didn’t cover the story. They were too busy covering JonBenét Ramsey’s supposed killer. There were 42 satellite trucks and camera crews in front of the Boulder, Colorado, DA’s ofﬁce that same day. Last summer, the boreal forest in Russia suffered from multiple ﬁres that consumed about 29 million acres. If Pennsylvania burned last summer, it may have made news, but because it was in Russia, our media concluded that we do not care and never covered it. Recently, the IPPC released their 4th report, concluding that human-made pollution is heating the planet and warning of many dangers ahead. The television media has given little time to the matter again; they were ﬁxated on the body of Anna Nicole Smith for weeks. It’s sad that we give more attention to
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Leave No Child Indoors
a dead celebrity than we to the future of nature. My organization has polled hunters and anglers all across America. These polls demonstrate that outdoor enthusiasts have a much higher recognition of the threat of global warming on their local world than does the public at large. So being “out there” matters for our attitudes and understandings.
Leave No Child Indoors policy programs that include such elements as: • Increase State and Local Park Program Funding. Getting more kids into outdoor and nature programs in parks must become a priority. • Bring Back Outdoor Recess to Our Schools. The National Association for the Education of Young Children and others are concerned that recess time is
daily outdoor time for young children. • Promote TV Guidelines. State public health agencies need to be clearer about supporting guidelines that encourage less television and more outdoor time. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends much more restricted viewing of TV by children. Their guidelines should be shared widely. • A Greener Check Up. State Health and Natural
being eliminated from elementary schools in school districts nationwide due to a perception it is a waste of time, takes away from academics, and portends physical injuries for children. States need to bring back recess and make it a part of a daily school-based Green Hour program. • Make Schools and School Grounds Greener. States need to focus more on the new design and retroﬁtting of schools that help connect children with nature. The NWF schoolyard habitat program is one example of a way to do this along with tree planting and other ways to convert school grounds places of nature contact. • Evaluate Day Care. Responsible state agencies need to review how effectively day-care centers are providing
Resource Departments can follow the lead of the American Academy of Pediatrics and ask doctors to recommend regular outdoor time as part of wellness check for children.
W HAT M UST B E D ONE At the organization I lead, the National Wildlife Federation, we are asking partner organizations to join us in several key efforts. 1. More research and information The emerging nature deﬁcit issue is complex and requires signiﬁcant understanding, veriﬁcation, and problem solving. And we need to ﬁnd creative ways
We all need to be reconnected to nature for the renewal of our minds and for the future of conservation to bring this urgent warning to parents who are only getting their messages from the televisions. 2. Immediate Help for Parents and Caregivers We are supporting a nationwide “Green Hour” program aimed at encouraging parents to commit to outdoor play for their children an average of one hour per day. We started by creating a website to help parents: www. GreenHour.org. Churches can help single moms and grandparents take their kids camping and teach them how to ﬁsh. 3. We also have worked with volunteers to create 70,000 backyard-wildlife habitats, schoolyard habitats and community habitats across America where kids can connect with the nature in their back yard. Churches and Christian schools can do a lot with the land they already have (read “Inviting Creation to My Yard” on p. 18 of this issue). 4. Most importantly, we need to be advocates for a societal-scale approach to addressing nature deﬁcit in America. NWF and it afﬁliates are joining with partners across the nation to ask states to adopt comprehensive
*** Out of the window of my home ofﬁce, I look over Pine Creek valley, where nine decades ago, Rachael Carson and her mother often roamed looking for spring ﬂowers. I can’t help but believe that those hours aﬁeld in western Pennsylvania had a profound inﬂuence on this great conservationist and fostered her deep “Sense of Wonder.” Edward O. Wilson wrote in The Diversity of Life, “Wilderness settles peace on the soul because
it needs no help; it is beyond human contrivance. Wilderness is a metaphor of unlimited opportunity. . . We do not understand ourselves yet and descend farther from heaven’s air if we forget how much the natural world means to us. Signals abound that the loss of life’s diversity endangers not just the body but the spirit. If that much is true, the changes occurring now will visit harm on all generations to come.” Kids need to be outside more for their own physical, emotional and mental well-being. We all need to be reconnected to nature for the renewal of our minds and for the future of conservation. Gone are the days when the majority of kids spent hours at a time in the full ﬂush of nature—in unstructured play exploring the hidden wonders under every rock and around every tree. Gone too are the days when kids sleep under a blanket of stars. What will become of wild places if our children, like the boy on my plane, know little of the mystery, the grace, the interconnectedness of all living things? We only save what we love and we only love what we know. Let me share a closing thought. Spending time in nature gives us a more vivid multi-sensory experience as we absorb inputs through our ears, through our eyes, through our nose and through our ﬁngers. Our memories are made the richer and more durable by the multiple stimuli around us. We literally absorb the place as it absorbs us. As a child, I spent many hours aﬁeld with my father who was a dog trainer and hunter. My father died more than thirty years ago, yet when I go to the woods and smell a familiar plant or hear a distant crow on a crisp fall morning, my memories of being with dad out in nature come ﬂooding back in rich detail as if it were yesterday. In those moments I can hear his voice clearly and I can see his ruddy face in the golden light of an early morning sun. I cherish those ﬂeeting memories. I would urge every parent reading these words to make memories in nature with your children. They will scarcely remember watching television with you, but they will hold on to the times they spent in the wild with you for a lifetime. Larry Schweiger is President and CEO of the National Wildlife Federation and an occasional contributor to Creation Care magazine.
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A DISCIPLE ’S FIELD NOTES
By Jim Ball
Above the Arctic Circle A
fter a six-day trip to a symposium and tour of Greenland, my wife Kara and I arrived home to discover that our travel destination, the Arctic Circle, had become hot news—with major stories on NBC Nightly News and ABC World News Tonight. The NBC correspondent was reporting from the exact place we had visited, the Ilulissat glacier, a stunningly beautiful World Heritage Site on the western side of Greenland, 155 miles above the Arctic Circle. Newspaper articles were reporting on what we had heard during the Arctic symposium: the Arctic sea ice has receded farther this year than any time since satellite measurements have been kept starting in 1979. The reduction has made the famed Northwest passage navigable (saving 5,000 to 10,000 miles a trip when it becomes commercially viable), and the nations which have Arctic coastlines —the U.S., Canada, Russia, Norway, and Denmark (for Greenland) —are now racing to claim sovereignty over as much of the Arctic as they can get, because vast quantities of oil, gas, and minerals are thought to exist under what normally would be covered with ice. In fact, the U.S. Geological Survey estimates that up to 25 percent of the world’s oil reserves could be stored below the Arctic ice. The cover story for the Spring 2007 Harper’s magazine reports that the U.S. could reap $1.3 trillion worth of resources.
resources fueling its rise. It feels perverse. And because it feels perverse it would be quite easy to take cheap “prophetic” shots at those who want to capitalize on such opportunities. But it is probably enough to underscore at this point that global warming has and will bring death. Pristine areas will be scarred and exploited. All to put cheap gas in our cars. The symposium we attended was sponsored by Patriarch Bartholomew (called by some “the Green Patriarch”), spiritual leader to 300 million Orthodox Christians worldwide. It was entitled “The Arctic: Mirror of Life.” The Arctic, we learned, is indeed in trouble. Senior scientist Bob Correll, who chaired the recent Arctic Climate Impact Assessment and who has been studying the area for decades, told us that the Arctic sea ice is currently disappearing at a rate much faster than scientists projected only a few years ago. Bob told us that by 2040, plus or minus 10 years, the Arctic summer sea ice could be gone. Previously I had heard 2040 —but possibly by 2030? Twenty-three years from now? Once it disappears in the summers, what then, besides the drilling? Human-induced global warming will have caused the disappearance of what we culturally understand as the North Pole. How could we do that? Another shocker was learning how much of the pollution from industrial nations was ending up in the Arctic due to global circulation patterns, traveling up the food chain to bioaccumulate in massive quantities in polar bears, walruses, whales, and seals. When the Inuit, the peoples native to the Arctic regions, eat their traditional diet, they too are impacted. One of the ﬁndings presented at the symposium is that among the Inuit twice as many girls are being born than boys. The scientists suspect that PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls—industrial pollutants known to be endocrine disruptors) that have
The Arctic sea ice is currently disappearing at a rate much faster than scientists projected only a few years ago I have often commented (as I did in June to a hostile question from Senator Inhofe during my testimony before the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee) that I hope companies will make lots of money solving global warming. I want them to do well by doing good. But in this instance we have a situation where global warming itself is unlocking the very
bioaccumulated in the animals that are part of the diet of Inuit mothers are causing their unborn male babies to abort. While not on the same geographic scale as the consequences of climate change, these largely unknown tragedies are nevertheless known by God. I don’t know what my own culpability is with regard to PCBs, but I do know that the Inuit are innocent victims. And it haunts me. One of the purposes of the Arctic tour was to have religious leaders from around the world experience a brief time of silent prayer together on the deck of our ship. Those participating were arrayed in their ﬁnest traditional dress that clearly marked them as leaders from various faiths: Shia and Sunni Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, Judaism, and various branches of Christianity. They all looked quite impressive, whereas I, as a Baptist evangelical, was dressed in fairly typical low-Protestant garb for such an august occasion – grey slacks and a blue blazer covered by a purely functional blue windbreaker. We prayed for two minutes in the Arctic silence. Afterward, I was asked by reporters whether I had had a
spiritually meaningful experience and what I thought the real signiﬁcance of the event was. I told them that the real power of the event would not be measured by its impact on the clergy who participated, but by its effect on those who saw such diverse religious leaders come together to pray for the people of the Arctic and what we are doing to them. Right after the time of silent prayer the Sunni Islamic representative asked me directly (and rather boldly, but in a friendly way) what I had prayed. I shared with him the Apostle Paul’s reassurance that when we don’t know what to pray, the Holy Spirit prays with us with sighs too deep for words. On the deck of that ship above the Arctic Circle, I found that most of the time I prayed only emotions instead of words. But when I did pray in words, they were these: “Help us, Lord Jesus.” The Rev. Jim Ball, Ph.D., is an ordained Baptist minister, the President and CEO of the Evangelical Environmental Network, and the national spokeperson for the Evangelical Climate Initiative.
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By Tim Keyes
Inviting Creation to My Yard M
y wife and I chose our 1920’s house in a neighborhood near downtown Atlanta in large part because of the yard. Our little 1/8th of an acre pie-slice shaped lot sits on a hill. Two stately Southern Red Oaks bookend our street frontage and successive rows of azaleas work their way upslope to our front porch and brick house. We knew that March would be stunning, with the azaleas and dogwoods in full ﬂower, but as a lazy gardener, I was most drawn to the postage-stamp sized lawn, which could easily be weed-whacked in 10 minutes or less. Beyond my own indolence lay the knowledge that ecologically, a close-cropped expanse of grass is not much better than asphalt. While we Americans often feel drawn to vast swaths of golf-green-styled yards, if one of your objectives is to invite wildlife, this urge must be fought tooth and nail. Fortunately for me, establishing good habitat for wildlife is a perfect project for a lazy gardener. Once shrubs and mid-story trees are planted, they take much less work to maintain than grass. Dead trees and branches, as long as they pose no threat to life and limb, can be left standing to provide nesting cavities for birds. Sticks and branches that fall can be left or stacked in loose piles as shelter for the salamanders and wrens rather than laboriously dragged to the curb. And since a weed is by deﬁnition merely an unwanted plant, you can follow Cal DeWitt’s suggestion for easily ridding your yard of weeds: “Look out at them all and say ‘Welcome’”. Our yards are the tiny slices of the created world where we will spend the most time, and can have the
most direct impact. While our gardening practices won’t solve the great problems of species loss, they may help on a small scale to keep our common species common. Given recent alarming declines of some
of what is possible. In assessing my yard in light of these requirements, I saw that some food was provided by the acorns, ﬂowers, and berries of several trees and shrubs (we have dogwoods, hollies, oaks, and mulberries that generate abundant fruit in fall). Various layers of vines, shrubs, mid-story trees and canopy trees provided some good shelter. Unfortunately , there was no standing water (apart from our dirt crawl-space after a heavy rain), and with 1/8th of an acre (minus the house footprint), there certainly wasn’t a lot of space. Given our constraints, the yard wasn’t going to provide vast expanses of open space, nor could it provide decent grassland or wetland habitat. We could certainly work with the deciduous forest theme however, and add to the plantings of shrubs and trees as well as adding supplemental feeders and nest boxes. F OOD : We have supplemented the fruiting and ﬂowering plants with others such as American Beautyberry and ﬂowering dogwood, both of which provide berries. We have stuck to plants native to the region for several reasons. First, they are adapted to the soils, climate and local pathogens, and are unlikely to require additional fertilizing, watering, or pesticides once they
of our most common and beloved birds reported by the National Audubon Society, this is a worthy goal. Inviting wildlife to your yard is also a wonderful way to begin to learn the language of the created order and take the ﬁrst steps at creation stewardship on a microscale (see my column in the last issue of CC). What better place to begin taking seriously Jesus’s challenge to behold the birds of the air and the ﬂowers of the ﬁeld than by inviting them into our own yards? It may also spark an interest and commitment that extends well beyond the boundaries of your yard. God’s creatures have four basic needs: 1) Food 2) Water 3) Shelter and 4) Space. Any project to attract backyard wildlife must begin with an honest assessment
during the colder months. If you are going to have a single feeder, use black-oiled sunﬂower seeds, which attract the broadest array of birds. Mixed seed tends to have lots of ﬁller that birds ignore and scatter to the ground as they search for their favorites, which are often . . . you guessed it, black-oiled sunﬂower seeds. Poorly-placed feeders can unnecessarily increase risk to the birds. The beautiful picture window you enjoy watching birds through can prove deadly, as they often see greenery reﬂected in the glass and collide with it. If this occurs, move the feeder close to the window, typically within 3 feet, to reduce the speed when birds strike, or use decorations on the glass itself to alert birds to its otherwise invisible presence. If cats are around (your own should be inside!)… keep feeders far enough from bushes that cats cannot stalk birds at the feeder. Nectar feeders can attract hummingbirds, marvels of physics and engineering, the world’s only birds that can ﬂy backwards as easily as forwards. I use a 4:1 boiled mixture of water to sugar with no food coloring. The effect of food coloring on hummingbirds isn’t entirely known, but it may be harmful and is utterly unnecessary, as most feeders themselves are brightly colored to attract the birds in the ﬁrst place.
Inviting wildlife to your yard is a wonderful way to begin to learn the language of the created order are established. They are often host plants for native butterﬂies. Just as important, they don’t carry the risk of becoming “invasive” or taking over everything else in the yard like many non-native plants do. (Lists of native plants to your region can be found at the links below.) Suitable species will vary from place to place, but try to provide ﬂowers, fruits, nuts, acorns, and cones throughout the year. Bird feeders supplement wild foods, especially
While I mainly feed birds for my own enjoyment, in bad weather feeders can supply a helpful resource for birds. Ultimately however, I would certainly hate it if my lack of care led to any harm. Periodically washing feeders with soap and water reduces the chance that your feeder may become a site for the transmission of various diseases such as Salmonella.
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I N T H E N E W S . . . C R E AT I O N C A R E I N T H E N E W S . . . C R E AT I O N C A R E Inviting Creation to My Yard
W ATER : Being married to a water conservation advisor seriously limited my options when it came to providing water for wildlife. Any visions of a re-circulating series of pools and waterfalls down the front slope quickly evaporated. Even though she purchased a birdbath and dripper for me, she found it so difﬁcult to see water dripping in our back yard that it took several months before she let me leave the dripper on (at a very low rate). Drippers and misters are powerful attractants for birds, and will bring in many more than a simple bird bath will. Like the feeders, bird baths must be cleaned regularly as they rapidly become soiled. As we have been experiencing a drought in the southeast, we have just started to use the collected condensation from our air conditioning unit to water our plants and reﬁll the bird bath. Overnight when we run the AC, we collect about 3 gallons of water. This easily meets our outdoor watering needs with plenty to top off the birdbath. If our water needs increase in the future, we could add gutters to part of our roof and collect runoff in a rain barrel. In an average rainfall year, I have estimated that our 1,200-square-foot roof could collect 37,500 gallons of water, clearly more than we could ever use!
for more information Audubon Common birds in decline http://www.audubon.org/bird/stateofthebirds/CBID/ NWF Gardeners Page http://www.nwf.org/gardenforwildlife/ With more information about establishing a wildlife-friendly garden American Beauties http://www.abnativeplants.com/?source=backyard a partnership of the National Wildlife Federation and various garden centers to provide information about easy to grow native plants, and other aspects of wildlife gardening. Be sure to check out their free landscape plans for bird and butterﬂy gardening. Evangelical Environmental Network For a limited time, new and renewing members will receive a free packet of 3B ﬂower seeds (for attracting birds, butterﬂies, and bees).
In other humid climates a similar system could provide enough water for a small frog pond, which provides the added beneﬁt of the nocturnal chorus of frogs to the diurnal bird chorus.
E VANGELICALS W ARMING TO C LIMATE L EGISLATION
national poll by Ellison Research, released Oct 11, found that 84 percent of evangelicals support legislation to reduce global
S HELTER AND S PACE : The existing plants that so attracted us to the property already provide signiﬁcant amounts of cover and shelter, from the ground level, through the shrubs and small trees, to the towering oaks. As you assess your yard, think vertically, and try to ensure that at every level, from ground to tree top, there is some form of cover for wildlife. We have added a number of bird and bat boxes to add additional shelter, for roosting and nesting sites. We have enjoyed mixed success. While so far only squirrels have used our Screech-owl box, Carolina Chickadees have nested and roosted in another box. Despite many suitable options I have provided, the wrens insist on nesting in the oddest corners—the box of kindling, the Mason jar in a hanging planter (not sure how the jar got there). Sadly, much of the cover in our yard is provided by non-native invasive species. Our yard plant list reads like an ecological rogue’s gallery: English ivy, nandina, Chinese privet, wisteria, autumn olive and microstegium occupy precious space, and our next project will be to gradually replace them with beneﬁcial native species. Starting in our yards, we can begin the process of becoming stewards of Creation. This may begin, as it did in another garden long ago, with simply naming what is there. From there, an honest assessment of our yards may uncover a number of projects, simple and complex that we can undertake to provide a better space for the wildlife that shares our corner of creation. Taking care to do no harm, and trying to restore something lost (removing invasive species), are important things to keep in mind. Ultimately however, we will come to enjoy, serve and protect this microcosm of creation more completely, and understand better what stewardship means at a larger scale.
else, energy, conservation, and the ability of farmers in the developing world to make a living. Much of America’s poor diet, poor land use, water pollution,
warming pollution levels, and 54 percent are more likely to support a
industrialization and concentration
candidate that works toward that end (with only 10 percent less likely to
of agriculture in the hands of fewer
support a candidate who works for global warming action).
and fewer “agribusinesses” is a
“What we are seeing is signiﬁcant support among evangelical
result of the distortions and wealth
Christians for prudent measures that will help stop and reverse levels of
transfers effected by the Farm Bill.
global warming pollution and will be consistent with God’s call to all of us
The damage is not limited to the
to be stewards of his incomparable creation,” said David Clark, president
U.S.—farmers around the world
of Palm Beach Atlantic University, former chairman of the National
whose hopes for the future are
Religious Broadcasters, and an ECI signatory.
pinned to producing crops for export
The Ellison Research poll found that 70 percent of evangelicals believe
are hurt when American agricultural
global warming will have an impact on future generations, and 64 percent
goods are priced lower than their
say that action against it should begin immediately. Eighty-nine percent
cost of production. Food aid to the
of evangelicals agreed that the U.S. should seek to curb its global warming
developing world is partly ﬁrst-world
pollution, regardless of what other nations do.
generosity and partly an elaborate dumping scheme to rid the global
V OLUNTEERISM S TUCK IN T RAFFIC
to lose both the knack and desire
North of agricultural overproduction
for community-mindedness (part of
induced by market-distorting
America’s social safety net is woven
what scientists have described as
out of volunteers. A new study
from the Corporation for National
If this is true, then building
Yet the Bill does much good as well. Plummeting waterfowl
and Community Service called
sprawling cities is doubly bad—not
populations were restored through
“Volunteering in America” shows
only does car-centered development
the land set-aside provisions of the
that in places where commuting
disproportionately hit the poor
Farm Bill. Poor families beneﬁt from
times are burdensome, volunteerism
with pollution, blight, violence, and
the National School Lunch Program,
takes a hit.
joblessness, it also eats into the
the Special Supplemental Nutrition
A time budget of 24 hours per
capacity of society to demonstrate
Program for Women, Infants, and
day means that more time in the car
compassion in the face of those
Children (WIC), and the Food Stamp
means less free time for everything
Program (all a part of the Farm Bill,
else, whether that is sleep, cooking,
believe it or not!).
great books, composing music, or
C ONGRESS C ONSIDERS F EDERAL F ARM B ILL
version of the Farm Bill will be
volunteering at the rescue mission.
The U.S. Congress is in the midst of
making its way to the Senate ﬂoor,
revising the Federal Farm Bill. Up for
where debate will ensue on whether
suggestion that long hours
renewal and revision about every six
and how to shift subsidies from crop
spent commuting works a subtle
years, this omnibus bill affects crop
production to conservation and
psychological change. According
subsidies, food and nutrition for the
quality time with family, reading
More worrying is the report’s
to the study “driving back and
Tim Keyes is a Wildlife Biologist with the Georgia Wildlife Resource Division, focusing on nongame birds. He has been involved with wildlife education, research and conservation for the last 15 years.
poor, food and nutrition for everyone
forth to work alone provides few opportunities to engage others and to build positive social network.” And when people don’t spend time interacting with others, they begin
As CC goes to press, the Senate
SOURCES: Evangelical Poll: Christian Post, “Green Evangelicals: Creation Care is Gospel in Action,” Oct 13, 2007; http://www.christiansandclimate.org/pub/Public%20Opinion%20Update% 2010-11-07.pdf Volunteerism: Corporation for National and Community Service, “Volunteering in America: 2007 City Trends and Rankings,” http://www.nationalservice.gov/about/volunteering/ cities.asp; Farm Bill: New York Times, “A Bid to Overhaul a Farm Bill Yields Subtle Changes,” Oct 24, 2007; Catholic Rural Life (Magazine of the National Catholic Rural Life Conference, Spring 2007 issue, http://www.ncrlc.com/magazine-webpages/crl_spring2007.html
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Worship God. Care for His Creation.
The earth is the Lord's and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it. — Psalm 24:1
The Evangelical Environmental Network exists to proclaim the Lordship of Christ over all of Creation. Through our quarterly magazine, Creation Care, and our nationally recognized educational campaigns, such as What Would Jesus Drive, and the Evangelical Climate Initiative, we proclaim the gospel of Christ and invite all to share in the stewardship of God's creation. If you want to discover what the Bible says about caring for the earth and the people that live on it, visit our website. You can request a free sample of Creation Care magazine, and ﬁnd an abundance of useful resources online. Sign up today at creationcare.org/magazine Donate online at creationcare.org/support.php
By Dorothy Boorse
My Dream E
ver since Martin Luther King’s famous “I have a dream” speech, people of imagination have used that same phrase to describe their own hopes and visions. This week I was asked, “as a person of faith and a scientist, what is your dream for creation care in your faith community?” I was unprepared for the question, answered poorly at the time, but this is what I would have rather said: I have a dream that Christians would be peacemakers, patient, kind, and good, that we would be known by the love we show each other and the world. Because we were such people, redeemed and growing in Christ, we would have a right relationship with the rest of the creation. We would not use more than we need, we would share with others, we would be wise in our decisions about resources. We would care for the earth and its creatures because God placed them in our care. We would be in community—for even if each of us individually lived careful and intentional lives, wasting little, prudent and content, there would still be signiﬁcant work for us to do together. As C.S. Lewis envisioned it in Mere Christianity, not only would our individual ships be on the right course, but our whole ﬂeet of ships would steer together in a correct course. We would build more housing in which garages, laundry, and even belongings are shared, and have more cooperative strategies for everyday problems. I dream of a suburb where every yard is wildlife habitat, every window designed to keep birds from hitting it, every road is as passable as possible for wildlife, every garden made for the climate it is in, and laundry hangs drying in the yards of the poshest of neighborhoods. On a societal level, I would like convenience to be a lesser good and intentionality to be the greater. I would like better planning of developments so they are green, include a range of economic levels, form small neighborhoods and do not require cars. I would like people to move less often and be more invested in the place where they live. I would like them to buy local produce, know the people around them, and be on the cell phone less. I would like fewer strip malls, fewer extravagant children’s parties, and more games of catch. I would like to see us use our formidable ability to develop
technology for the betterment of the world and for the bringing of good news, rather than for conquering either humans or nature. But more than that, I would like churches to weave creation care throughout their ministry. I would like people to make a connection between caring for the poor and caring for the creation in which we all live. I would like to see Christians vote thoughtfully about a greater range of issues. From their efforts personally, communally and politically, I would like to see the U.S. become more economically equitable internally and with the rest of the world. I would like Christians to lead efforts to give overconsumption as much attention as overpopulation. I dream of a time when churches own fewer buildings, and congregations spend their resources on the world around them, on art, music, food and shelter for the poor, on care of the wild and the domestic, when Christians work toward the common goal of a sustainable society. What a joyful vision! How far I am myself from bringing much of it about! How small we are and how great the changes needed! But we serve a sovereign God. I believe that the environmental problems we have now highlight the fact that we need God and that we need to repent, particularly of pride and discontent. Thankfully, I think we are seeing many such changes in the church today. Christians are experiencing changes tantamount to a revival, changes which may bring us back to some of the strengths of earlier believers, those for whom creation was not as separate from humans and for whom care of creation and love of neighbor went hand in hand. Martin Luther King, Jr., gave us a rhetorical framework to express our belief in what is good and right. In creation care, as in racial harmony, seeing the goal is a part of following God’s leading. My prayer is that as more Christians feel called to lives of stewardship, that vision will become ever clearer. Dr. Dorothy Boorse is an aquatic ecologist and Biology Department faculty member at Gordon College in Wenham, MA. She is one voice in the Christian Environmental Stewardship movement and lives with her husband and two sons in Beverly, MA.
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2 0 07
THE GREEN DOCTOR
By Matthew Sleeth
How Evangelicals View the Future A
friend recently sent me an interesting study in which evangelicals identiﬁed three issues as their highest priorities for the immediate future: enhancing the health of Christian churches, upgrading the state of marriage and families, and improving the spiritual
condition of the U.S. In each case, evangelicals were more than 30 percentage points more likely than other adults to view these issues as top priorities. The next highest priority for evangelicals was the moral content of mass entertainment. At the other end of the survey, evangelicals stood out regarding their views on caring for the environment. Only 35 percent said that protecting the environment should be a top priority—the lowest score recorded among any of the 80 subgroups studied. Evangelicals were also 20 percent less likely to list improving the overall care and resources devoted to children as an absolute necessity. Frankly, I’m pleasantly surprised that the
environment was named as a high priority by even 35 percent of evangelicals. My hunch is that this is a signiﬁcantly higher number than we would have found even three or four years ago, but we still have much work to do. And that is all God promises us: Good Work! Here’s what these stats don’t reveal, and what I have witnessed ﬁrst hand all around the country: When Christians hear the biblical call for caring for God’s creation, they are quick to repent and make signiﬁcant lifestyle changes. Caring for creation is not just about changing light bulbs—it affects every aspect of our material and spiritual lives. Loving our neighbor and living a more humble life, with joy and gratitude, brings seekers to the church and strengthens our church body. Bringing our lifestyles closer to the example set by Jesus focuses our families on spiritual needs rather than material desires. Not allowing possessions to own us and spending more time in the God-made world rather than the material world strengthens our community and family ties. Choosing not to watch TV or tune into pop culture does not just save energy; it keeps us from the lies that advertisers spend millions to sell us, not to mention their ubiquitous, morally bankrupt programming. Quick story—last fall we were taking an Asbury College student to DC so she could help launch the student Evangelical Climate Initiative. Her family is deeply conservative. They have owned 1200 acres in
North Carolina for 200 years. The student’s older sister recently had challenged Caroline for getting involved in all this “environmental stuff.” Shouldn’t she be more concerned about same sex marriages, or abortion? Caroline responded that she was very concerned about those issues, but she was afraid there would be no planet for anyone to get married on, or for any babies to be born on, if Christians didn’t start taking a leadership role in caring for God’s creation. We are told to love all that God loves, and yet we are destroying the very trees, mountains, and rivers that we were charged to tend. I see much hope, once the church heeds the biblical call to care for creation. Sir John Houghton, the world’s leading climatologist and an evangelical Christian, said that the world is waiting to see what America will do,
and Washington is waiting to hear what the Church will say. Since evangelicals are now the most vocal part of the American church, the future of God’s creation, in a nutshell, lies in the hands of American evangelicals. Next time this survey is conducted, I pray that the majority of evangelicals cite caring for creation as a top priority. With God, anything is possible! Dr. Matthew Sleeth is a former emergency room director and chief of medical staff, who now writes, preaches, and teaches full-time about faith and the environment. In May, Dr. Sleeth was named the executive director of Christians in Conservation/A Rocha USA. He is the author of Serve God, Save the Planet (Zondervan).
How You Can Help Care for Creation, Starting TODAY! Autumn is a time of beginnings— school starting, new schedules, cool breezes, and fresh resolves. It’s also a great time to shed some wasteful habits and start living a more God-centered and satisfying life. Here are some ideas to get you started: 1. Observe the Sabbath—no driving except to church, no shopping, no consumer activity. Enjoy time with family, friends, and the Lord. “Be still and know that I am God.” 2. Try to put off using the furnace until absolutely necessary. Open curtains on sunny days, and close them at night to retain the heat. 3. Carpool, walk, ride your bike, or use public transportation to get to work or school, at least
once a week. 4. Put off one nonemergency major purchase for a month, then see if you still “need” it. 5. Turn down the thermostat on your hot water heater to 120 degrees. 6. For Christmas gifts this year, consider giving compact ﬂuorescent bulbs, fabric bags, an assortment of natural cleaning products, a donation to a Christian environmental organization. . . or a subscription to Creation Care magazine. Let relatives know that you will be traveling less this year (or not at all!) during the Thanksgiving and Christmas seasons. 7. Shake up your eating habits: Cook at least one meatless meal each week—or one more than you
do now. Eat at home one more meal per week than you usually do. Pack lunches for school in re-usable containers. Go on a fast food fast—no McDonalds, Wendy’s, or Burger King for one week…or the whole month. 8. Shake up your media habits: Go on a TV fast—no commercial television for a week. . . or a whole month. Pray on the commute home instead of listening to the radio, or get a book on tape from the library that will renew your faith life. 9. Clean out your clothes closet and give away anything you have not worn in the last year. 10. Spend at least ﬁve minutes each day in nature, giving thanks to God for His bountiful gifts that sustain all of his creation.
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THE CAMPUS GREEN
By Peter Illyn
Au Sable Names New President Peter Illyn, contributing editor for Creation Care, recently sat down with Ed Johnson, new president of the Au Sable Institute of Environmental Studies, to ﬁnd out what makes him tick.
campuses who were going through incremental changes as well as serving as a cutting edge innovator in building, energy use and curriculum development.
CREATION CARE: How did you become so interested
CC: Was this a gradual revelation of the importance
in the concept of sustainability, even to the point of
of sustainability or did you have an epiphany of
envisioning a college that is built from the ground
up on these principles?
EJ: My journey so far consists of a gradual series of
ED JOHNSON: A remarkable group of faculty and chapel speakers ﬁrst opened my eyes to environmental issues while I was an undergraduate student at Morningside College in the late 60’s and early 70’s. We seek as higher education faculty and administrative leaders to provide transformational experiences to our students. I was blessed to have been transformed on the concepts of Creation Care before this remarkable movement began to emerge. A second transformation occurred as I witnessed ﬁrsthand as a student the power and responsibility of a college or university to stand for the principles of social justice and the practices that it demands in teaching, how it lives in community and how it serves society. As a Christian college president at the dawn of the new millennium I felt called, as the scientiﬁc evidence of human-caused global warming
transformational moments since my college days. My ﬁrst urban ministry immersion in Washington, DC opened my eyes to social justice issues. A quiet sunset walk in Muir Woods one afternoon brought me to my knees for the ﬁrst time in the midst of that remarkable creation. Reading seminal works by Cal DeWitt and others began my gradual intellectual nourishment. Recent exposure to some of the great minds on sustainability and Creation Care began to connect the dots for me: evangelical faith, higher education and the scientiﬁc community.
high-quality educational experience. We have worked hard at this for several generations and God is blessing this commitment to academic excellence in His name. The ethics, talent and servant leadership of the students, faculty and staff at Sterling were inspiring. You could never have a bad day when you were in community with them. This is true at each of our Christian colleges and universities.
CC: Tell me about your time as president of a
CC: What is a week in the life of a Christian college
Christian institution, Sterling College.
president look like as you balance diverse and
EJ: After serving several public university and higher education agencies, Sterling opened my eyes to the transformative model of Christ-centered liberal arts education. For the ﬁrst time in my life I was truly empowered as a servant leader, just as I am now at the Au Sable Institute for Environmental Studies. I became even more convicted that well-educated followers of Christ are the ﬁnest leaders in a broken world. I also became even more convicted that the solutions for Creation Care must come from interdisciplinary thought and action. Christian colleges and universities are ﬁnally being recognized as equivalent to any other
sometimes conﬂicting stakeholders and priorities?
CC: What advice would you give students
EJ: The wonder of a presidency is the remarkable
and professors who are trying to champion
number of issues that are before each and every day. The servanthood opportunities are endless because a college is such a remarkable institution of learning and service. The daily challenge is serving as the voice of the institution to external constituencies while empowering the success of students, faculty and staff on literally an hourly basis. Because God and society ask so much of these institutions, the opportunities are endless in the midst of ﬁnite resources, human and ﬁnancial. You are constantly trying to ﬁnd new ways to enable all to reach their potential and to experience transformation through teaching, learning, experiences and living in community. In the midst of the human elements of the institutions, all college and university presidents
sustainability ethics and policies in their campuses?
For the ﬁrst time in American history, colleges and universities are pledging to a common cause: climate neutrality mounted, to re-examine the very role of a college itself in Creation Care. That call led to the opportunity to build a new college in Phoenix based on sustainability principles and practices. Our view was that a new institution could serve as an encouragement to those
are dealing with realities of inadequate resources for the complex responsibilities we are now charged with. Issues of balancing the budget, improving quality, and making the experience affordable for students and parents dominate our management tasks and keep most of us up at night. We are blessed, however, that all we need to do to rebalance our spiritual energy levels is to simply leave the ofﬁce and talk to a student, learn about a faculty member’s class, attend a chapel or listen to the joy of giving in the voice of a grateful donor.
EJ: Four words: “faithful and inexhaustible
perseverance!” Successful champions within the academy blend the “right thing to do” with reasoned analysis and thoughtful implementation proposals. I also advise the champions to challenge the student body to serve as the initial constituency champion and to patiently work through established networks and governance structures for long-term change. Beware of those who are in denial about the condition of the planet and the excessive use of energy on college and university campuses. Be energized by the successes at many, many institutions the last few years and learn from their best practices, both procedural and practical.
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By Rachel Stone
Au Sable Names New President
CC: Could you give me some background on the college and university Presidents’ Climate Commitment? EJ: The Commitment mirrors a recent U.S. Mayors
Climate Protection Agreement where 500 cities have committed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. For perhaps the ﬁrst time in American higher education history a broad coalition of public and private, two and four-year colleges and universities are pledging publicly to a common cause: to achieve institutional climate neutrality. We believe that sustainability is the deﬁning issue of the 21st century and institutions are committed to becoming sustainability role models and to educate future generations who will work to solve these complex technological and social justice issues.
disagree on whether current global warming trends are human-caused and whether proactive strategies should be undertaken to reverse current climate trends. Others may be located in rural areas where certain commitments on alternative energy usage might be problematic, where there is only one utility company and no public transportation. Others are unsure of the eventual costs of compliance without further study—we anticipate those institutions will reach their conclusions over the next 12 months. Finally, some institutions will need to be reassured that technical support will be provided by both the initiative’s coordinating council as well as individual best practices sharing among institutions. CC: Why were you excited to accept the position of
CC: What does it entail and what is the success rate?
president of the Au Sable Institute of Environmental
EJ: Although the initiative is only six months old, over
400 institutions (with a goal of 1000 by 2009) have committed to develop public processes to build green buildings, reduce energy consumption, improve public transportation strategies and embed sustainability principles throughout their curricula. Each institution sets its own goals and timetables and agrees to publish annual reports on successes in each category.
EJ: To be called to serve the premier organization of its kind is a special opportunity in Christian higher education. Au Sable is the oldest and largest consortial provider of environmental science courses in the world. Through its founder, Dr. Cal DeWitt and many others, it has offered scientiﬁc evidence and analysis for every signiﬁcant Creation Care public policy issue for over twenty-ﬁve years. Au Sable has renewed its commitment to transformational Christ-centered educational experiences in the next chapter of its story. To begin to move the dialogue and action from “what is happening” to “what shall we do” is very exciting for the Institute and for me personally. I am also looking forward to learning from a diverse group of stakeholders how Au Sable can replicate its historical roles in the emergence of such complementary areas as sustainability, public health, church-focused education and leadership development. It is truly the golden age of creation care thought and action. I am humbled to join those who have toiled long in the vineyards.
CC: Which Christian colleges have signed the commitment? EJ: As the faith-based institution board member of Second Nature, the primary coordinator of the initiative, I am proud to say that ﬁve members of the Council of Christian Colleges and Universities have signed the Commitment as of September: Eastern University, Point Loma Nazarene University, Goshen College, Whitworth University, and Messiah College. We anticipate several more in the coming months. CC: What are some of the resistance points? EJ: There is always the issue
of whether an institution signs this Commitment or utilizes other strategies to reach similar goals. Some institutions have diverse constituencies that
more information President’s Climate Commitment: http://www.presidentsclimatecommitment.org/ Au Sable Institute: www.ausable.org Restoring Eden: www.restoringeden.org Council of Christian Colleges and Universities: www.cccu.org
Peter Illyn is the Executive Director of the ministry Restoring Eden.
C U LT U R E S H O C K
No Small Joy In the Fall of 2006, Rachel Stone and her husband sold their car and most of their other ‘stuff’ (like furniture, kitchenware, and baby equipment) and moved from California to St. Andrews, Scotland. They expected that their new life across the ocean would be different—that everything over there would be smaller (apartments, automobiles, meal portions)—but what they didn’t expect was how much fun living smaller would be! I’d heard stories of other American women bursting into tears upon entering their newly-rented British apartments, and I was worried. But when my husband, our baby and I entered our new home—a second-story apartment (‘ﬂat’) in a small Scottish university town—I tended toward laughter rather than tears. Not that anything about the place was particularly comical—except that it was all so wee, as they might say. The fridge was the same size as the kind that American university students use in their dorm rooms to hold snacks— and this was to be the refrigeration unit for all the meals of a man, woman, and child! The washing machine wasn’t much bigger than the refrigerator, and our son’s new bedroom might have been a storage closet in an American home. But for some reason it was the fridge that got to me—when our landlord pointed it out, my husband and I looked at each other in surprise, and I bit my lips to hold back the laughter. When I tell people back home that our fridge here is only a little bigger than the one in our niece’s toy kitchen, they’re stunned. How do you make it, they wonder. The response is similar when we tell them that we don’t have a car—and that we don’t really feel the absence of one all that much. It’s understandable that this seems shocking—after all something like 50% of Americans live in largely un-walkable commuter suburbs, and the simple geographical fact of America’s bigness has trained us to think that bigger is not only better, but that it’s downright necessary for survival. Big feels safe, reassuring—big, full pantries and refrigerators
mean no need to venture out for food; big closets loaded with clothes mean we won’t have to worry about using the big washer and dryer more than once a week. Come to think of it, big seems motivated by fear. Smaller, at least to me, ever since that initial laughter, has come to mean joy. Joy? If I can’t haul a week’s worth of food home in my car and store it in my refrigerator, it means I’m at the store every day or every other, seeing people I know and enjoying “a good blether,” as they might say. If I can’t get all my family’s laundry washed and dried in a single morning, it means I’m out in the garden shared by the others who live in our building, hanging clothes on the line and greeting neighbors while the baby digs in the dirt with a spade. And if our ﬂat (which we rented furnished) has much less in the way of small appliances and kitchen tools than the average American home, why, that means I’m walking to Holly’s to borrow her mixer and then over to Melanie’s to loan her my hair clippers. A small home can feel cluttered, yes, but that makes it easier simply to own less. It is also easier to keep tidy, and much cheaper to furnish, to light, and to heat. Walking everywhere isn’t much fun when it rains, I’ll admit, but we manage to walk everyday, rain or shine, and all three of us are healthier and happier for it, I’m sure. Besides, it doesn’t seem to bother the Scots much—during light rains you’ll see plenty of people walking about seeming hardly to notice the falling drops. Sometimes, maybe, the things that we think we need to protect us—big house, big car, big stuff—keep the joy out rather than in. Let the rain fall softly on your head, and laugh. Rachel Stone taught English at a small Bible college in California before taking off across the continent (and the ocean) to live in a small Scottish university town with her husband and their now-2 year old son. She enjoys baking bread, writing, reading, running, and ﬁnding new ways to live in joyful simplicity.
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ON THE ROAD
By Stan LeQuire
Creation Care on the Ranch
for those c om m i t t e d to creation’s c a r e , L at ig o Ranch has an e x e m p l a ry
paloosas, pintos and a dapple gray or two. Palominos. Bays. Ninety horses thundered down the dirt road. For a backdrop, a late afternoon sun illumined crags and folds in the Colorado Rockies. Perched on a boulder a safe distance from the action, I let my camera capture the beauty to take home to my urban, East Coast world. One of the ﬁrst things I heard when I got to Latigo Ranch was, “Don’t miss the running of the horses.” In fact, it would be my advice to you. Don’t miss it. Nestled up against the Arapaho National Forest, Latigo Ranch is a hidden vacation destination that deserves wider recognition. This classy yet reﬁned resort has it all: spectacular scenery, ﬁve-star cuisine, delightful staff including knowledgeable (and patient) wranglers. And for those committed to creation’s care,
Latigo Ranch has an exemplary environmental ethic. If you want to give your family a memory and support a business with an intentional and creative care for creation, I recommend a week at Latigo Ranch. Since 1928, Latigo has operated as a dude ranch in the summer and a nordic ski lodge in the winter. In 1987, Jim and Kathie Yost, with Randy and Lisa George, purchased the ranch. Jim Yost, formerly an anthropologist with Wycliffe International, says the mission of Latigo is to “communicate God’s creation to our guests and use that as a means to help families reconnect.” And reconnect they will—be that around dining room tables or out by the barn. For my family, the reconnection happened in our comfortable mountain cabin with a pot-bellied wood stove. We wondered if
we would take on a pot-bellied proﬁle from indulging the sumptuous menu of “nouvelle ranch cuisine,” which included prime rib, elk medallions, fresh mountain trout, and thick Colorado bacon lovingly prepared by Randy and Lisa George. My daughters still speak fondly of their wranglers that we got to know during the twice daily horseback rides through alpine forests and meadows. Some will say that horses don’t make for good environmentalists, but Jim Yost will make a believer out of you. He has certainly won the hearts and minds of the local rangers in the Arapaho National Forest. Yost builds proactive relationships with the Forest Service and models creation care techniques. For example, Yost pioneered a new method of corralling horses during overnight camping trips with his guests. Previously, the standard was the use of a high line tether or remuda line. Yost uses portable, battery-operated electric fencing and a new corral site with each trip. Then, as camp is broken the wranglers accept an unenviable task. They spread the manure so that it doesn’t collect in unsightly piles or release concentrated wastes. Corralling thus reduces impact on fragile alpine ecosystems and eliminates siltation along stream beds. After initial skepticism, the Forest Service gave up tethering and now prefers Yost’s method of overnight corralling. In fact, the Forest Service often seeks his advice on other issues. Yost’s Western-style creation care has won him the respect of the Forest Service and he maintains that respect with the same diligence he has for his land, staff and horses. Beyond this one practical example, Yost keeps abreast of the latest ecological principles in horse care, forest management and pasture care. Yost points out that horse touring combined with a strong ethic of creation care is better than some of the more modern forms of recreation, such as mountain biking.
environmen ta l e t h ic
Latigo Ranch owners Lisa and Randy George and Kathie and Jim Yost.
Conscientiously, he trains his staff in creation care. “It’s everything,” says Yost. Fodor’s Online Guide says, “Latigo has a caring staff that does everything it can to give you an authentic ranch experience.” The ranch has been listed as the “Best Dude Ranch in Colorado” in the guide book Colorado’s Best.. For more information on Latigo Ranch, visit their beautiful website www.latigotrails.com or write for an information packet on rates and activities to: PO Box 237, Kremmling, CO, 80459, USA. Rev. Stan LeQuire, former director of the Evangelical Environmental Network, currently serves as an adjunct faculty and instructional designer with Eastern University’s School of Leadership and Development (www.eastern.edu/sld). At present, Stan is working towards a doctoral degree in community-based ecotourism.
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RELIEF & RESPONSIBILITY
By Scott Sabin
Christian Environmentalism: DEBUNKING THE MYTHS W
hen I ﬁrst got involved at the interface of Christian development work and the Christian environmental movement ﬁfteen years ago, voices were few and the audience skeptical. Thankfully, that is rapidly changing. There is a ground-swell of Christians who see care for creation as a vital part of their walk with Christ. However, as I talk to people, I still hear three common myths, which I will address in turn. M YTH 1: E NVIRONMENTAL CONCERN WILL CAUSE YOU TO WORSHIP THE CREATION INSTEAD OF THE C REATOR
I have always found this puzzling. Wilderness and nature have the opposite effect on me. My involvement has taught me about the incredible intricacy and complexity of God’s creation, reminding me of His attributes and my own humble place. “What is man that you are mindful of him?” (Ps. 8:4). It is probably no accident that so many of us became Christians while at camp, where, as we learned of God’s love The idea that for us, we could look up and see that “the stewardship Heavens declare the glory of God.” (Ps. 19:1). Or where, as we sat in humility, like and conservation Job, somewhere inside us a voice asked are part of a “Where were you when I laid the earth’s (Job 38:4). For centuries, liberal agenda foundation?” creation has been understood to be part seems ludicrous of God’s general revelation, something in much of the that He called good, and which according to Paul, provides enough evidence of Him developing to leave us without excuse. world. Indeed, I have never met a Christian
who was tempted to worship creation. Instead I have met many Christian biologists and ecologists who have helped me to rediscover awe, wonder and mystery in creation, and to see the signature of the Creator in unexpected places. Far from straying from the Bible, one of the things that surprised me was how much these scientists used scripture and relied on it in their understanding of our role in taking care of the earth. M YTH 2: Y OU CAN ’ T CARE ABOUT BOTH PEOPLE AND THE ENVIRONMENT . At Floresta, it was our concern for the poor and hungry that led us inevitably towards caring for their environment. In our afﬂuence, Americans have often been shielded from the consequences of our environmental decisions. If water is scarce or contaminated we can pay to pipe it across the country and purify it. If soil is degraded we can pay for fertilizers and amendments. The cost of seafood goes up, but you can still ﬁnd your favorite delicacy. Because we are buffered from direct feedback, we tend to forget that the environment is our life-support system. But the poor immediately feel the effects of environmental degradation, whether through drought induced by climate change, chronic diarrhea due to contaminated water, malaria epidemics exacerbated by deforestation, or myriad other examples. Any response to the needs of poor people that hopes to be sustainable must consider the environment. Conversely, in the developing world, any sustainable conservation effort must consider the needs of the poor. I hope to be exploring this relationship between poverty and the environment more deeply in future issues of this
magazine. People and creation are part of the same system, and intimately connected M YTH 3: D EEP DOWN THIS IS ALL ABOUT A POLITICAL AGENDA . There are policy issues with immense bearing on the health of creation, which I believe that we should take very seriously. However, much of what is going on around the globe transcends politics, or deﬁes easy political classiﬁcation. For example, environmentalism is often depicted as being against private property. Yet at Floresta we have found ourselves advocating for property rights. Poor farmers who have the right to use wood and products from trees they plant will be much more likely to plant and care for them in the ﬁrst place. Similarly poor farmers are more effective stewards of land that they are assured of being able to use in the future. But in other situations, government protection might make most sense. The idea that stewardship and conservation are part of a liberal agenda seems ludicrous in much of the developing world. I remember the shock on our Dominican director’s face when I ﬁrst tried to explain the suspicion with which many of our American donors regarded the environmental aspects of our work. The issues just don’t line up the same in Latin America
of Africa. Being free of the political baggage that we carry here in the US, many of our brothers and sisters of in the developing world are way ahead of us in their understanding of stewardship. Americans who are not ready to change votes or party afﬁliations can still be good stewards and creation care advocates. There are dozens of lifestyle choices that have nothing to do with politics. All of us can live more simply, drive less, recycle, buy food locally, etc. In our churches we can bring attention to the scriptural basis for stewardship—many Bible studies exist. We can encourage our churches and workplaces to reduce their own consumption and waste. And we can support organizations like A Rocha, Care of Creation, Marah International, or Floresta, which balance the focus on politics by working directly in endangered or vulnerable corners of creation. God has called all of us to be stewards of the earth and in so doing to love our neighbors. There is a place for all of us to respond to Him. Scott C. Sabin is the executive director of Floresta, a Christian nonproﬁt organization that reverses deforestation and poverty in the world by transforming the lives of the rural poor (www. ﬂoresta.org).
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E X P R E S S I N G C R E AT I O N
a wall the color of cilantro, and spindles frozen under glass;
the specimen unable to defend itself LOVING GENIUS She is a passionate observer Of every little, marvelous thing:
ﬂoweryellow so papery I can slip it on my tongue like a sacriﬁcial wafer
Lace-wing larva, Stinkpot, Duckweed, Phainopepla, Medicinal leech. She wants to learn Them all by name And by heart, To know How each one ﬁts And serves
and chew the body of green succulent so I dream of Sunday sermons, the petalrust stain guilty on my lips; the paint does it justice, juice of one sacriﬁce for another, cacti immortalized, the symbol
What can you do to change the world? Serve God. In Serve God, Save The Planet, J. Matthew Sleeth shares his family’s journey to simplicity, stronger relationships, and richer spiritual lives, and shares a prescription for sustainable living.
Its particular purpose, And more. Every small wonder increases And inspires her Awe of the Maker
has become the real thing. —G I N A M A R I E M A M M A N O V.
And His amazing, manifold grace. She denies, “the devil Is in the details.” She looks fearlessly Past the masterpiece Into the wild Eyes of undeniable love That colors every pigment And the shocking genius That invents every inﬁnitesimal Master stroke. — S T E V E N E L L I OT
Steven Elliott believes his poetry is just one act of love in a life devoted to God’s creation, being creative, and care-giving. He lives in the town of Orland in northern California and supports his beloved family as an electrician.
Gina works as a writer and visual artist and is a part of Montage, an artists’ coop that seeks to cross-pollinate ideas through the genres of music, writing, theater, and visual art in the Southern California area. Gina sees poetry as a way of distilling the particles of living so they can be examined more closely, and hopefully, become more illuminated to the reader, the light drawn where it may not normally be noticed.
Sleeth, as chief of medical staff at a large hospital, saw an increasing number of patients suffering from cancer, asthma, and other chronic diseases. He began to suspect that the earth and its inhabitants were in deep trouble. Turning to Jesus for guidance, Sleeth discovered how the scriptural lessons of personal responsibility, simplicity, and stewardship could be applied to modern life. Sleeth provides rationale for environmentally responsible life changes and includes a how-to-guide for making those changes.
Published on Dec 11, 2009