Thursday, September 01, 2011

What would you recommend? Books on ecotheology

I frequently get asked for recommendations of which book(s) to read on ecotheology.* If Christians want to start thinking more seriously about God amidst our ecological crises, where should they begin?
I use ecotheology fairly broadly to mean the study of theology from an ecological perspective, or the study of ecology from a theological perspective, rather than a particular movement within those fields.

I have a few ideas, though am very open to finding new texts as I've only read a tiny fraction of what is out there. Obviously, different books will suit slightly different purposes. Some might do better at introducing the major intellectual debates, some relate ecology to major theological themes and scriptural passages, some aim to persuade suspicious Christians of why we might bother with ecological matters, some give better grounding in the science and ethics of the key threats and challenges, some give a greater sense of direction and application regarding what we can do in response to them. All are needed for their various purposes.


Tyler Wittman said...

I would recommend the following:

Richard Bauckham's The Bible and Ecology

Willis Jenkins's Ecologies of Grace

Wendell Berry's essay "Christianity and the Survival of Creation" in Sex, Economy, Freedom & Community.

ben said...

Seconded Ecologies of Grace. I haven't read Bauckham's book, but would like to.

Annie Dillard, Pilgrim at Tinker's Creek.

William Brown, The Seven Pillars of Creation, is not strictly eco-theology but a science/biblical theology dialogue. Highly relevant nonetheless, and really nicely written.

Related to Brown's book, as well, I think that without some explicit theorising about the nature of the relationship between our understanding of God's works revealed in Scripture and our understanding of God's works accessible to us through science, we are stuck either with a theology that has no real place for the material world, or a materialistic empiricism with no real room for repentance and grace.

By Jarrod Longbons said...

Anything by Wendell Berry, Norman Wirzba, Michael Northcott et al.

Ellen Davis' "Scripture, Culture and Agriculture"

Moltmann's "God in Creation"

Jenkin's "Ecologies of Grace"

Erazim Kohak's "Embers and the Stars"
and because you need good orthodoxy, first, to develop a good ecotheology, people need to read: Augustine and Aquinas on Creation, St. JOhn of Damascus, Bulgakov, Schmemann, de Lubac on Nature/Grace, etc. Also Timothy Morton's "Ecology without Nature" is a good literary critical piece on the ideology of nature....

byron smith said...

Thanks for these suggestions and keep them coming. Any further comments on where some of these texts might fit in the different functions I mentioned would also be excellent.

Lawrence said...

I would second the Bauckham and Jenkins recommendations. Also worth looking at:

Sam Berry, The Care of Creation

David Atkinson, Renewing the Face of the Earth

Stephen R L Clark, How to Think About the Earth

Steven Bouma-Prediger, For the Beauty of the Earth

Paul Santmire, The Travail of Nature

Michael Northcott, The Environment and Christian Ethics

byron smith said...

Some more suggestions just arrived via email from John. I'm going to post them here for future reference.

M. Northcott, A Moral Climate
R. Bauckham, The Bible and Ecology
Sleeth, Serve God Save the Planet"
M. Hulme, Why We Disagree about Climate Change
J. C. Swearengen, Beyond Paradise (more techno than eco)
R. Gottlieb, A Greener Faith. Also edited Oxford Handbook of Religion and Ecology
F. Schaeffer, Pollution and the Death of Man
W. Brueggemann, Exile and Homecoming (commentary on Jeremiah)

Chris Breslin said...

byron smith said...

Norman Wirzba Food and Faith: A theology of eating. H/T Andy Styles.

byron smith said...

Some early eco-theology books (list taken from a comment on another site):

1972 – John Cobb. Is It Too Late? A Theology of Ecology
1977 – Walter Brueggemann. The Land: Place as Gift, Promise, and Challenge in Biblical Faith
1985 – Jurgen Moltmann. God in Creation: An Ecological Doctrine
1986 – Douglas John Hall (Canadian). Imaging God: Dominion as Stewardship
1987 – Sallie McFague (Canadian-American). Models of God: Theology for an Ecological, Nuclear Age
1988 – Thomas Berry. The Dream of the Earth
1988 – Matthew Fox. The Coming of the Cosmic Christ: The Healing of Mother Earth And the Birth of a Global Renaissance
1989 – David Hallman (Canadian). Caring for Creation: The environmental crisis, a Canadian Christian call to action
1989 – Herman Daly and John Cobb. For the Common Good: Redirecting the Economy Toward Community, Environment and a Sustainable Future
1989 – Jay McDaniel. Of God and Pelicans: A Theology of Reverence for Life

byron smith said...

A couple more from John Roe that I neglected to add earlier:

• Bredin, "Ecology of the NT"

• Mallory McDuff, "Natural Saints: How People of Faith are Working to save God's Earth"