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Posted January 11, 2007

Book: Ecology at the Heart of Faith: The change of heart that leads to a new way of living on earth
Author: Denis Edwards
Orbis Books. Maryknoll, NY. 2006. Pp. 146

An Excerpt from the Introduction:

One of the gifts we have received from the twentieth century is a picture of Earth as our shared home. The human community of the twenty-first century can see Earth as a blue-green planet set against the darkness of interstellar space. We are able to think of our home planet in the context of the vast distances of the Milky Way Galaxy and of the roughly one hundred billion galaxies that make up the observable universe, and be led to a new appreciation of Earth’s beauty and hospitality to life. We can see human beings as part of a global community, interconnected with other species and with the life systems of our planet. This represents a precious new moment in human cultural history.

At the same time we are confronted by the damage human beings are doing to the atmosphere, the soil, the rivers, and the seas of Earth. It is becoming more and more obvious that if we continue to destroy the great forests and clear the bush, if we continue reckless exploration of the land, rivers, and the seas, if we continue to lose habitats, what we will pass on to our descendants will be an impoverished and far more sterile place. We are in the midst of a process that, if allowed to continue, will end in the destruction of much of what we have come to treasure.

Everything is interconnected. The continued use of fossil fuels, like the vast amounts of coal mined in my own land, Australia, contributes to rapid climate change that will bring terrible suffering to human beings and a further acceleration in the extinction of other species. Already uncounted and unnamed species are being lost forever. All of this will have an unimaginable impact on human beings, but it is also obviously far more than a human problem. At the center of this book is the argument that this loss of biodiversity is a theological issue. When human beings cause the extinction of other species, they destroy creatures made by God. They damage a mode of God’s self-revelation.

An Excerpt from the Book:

The Earth is a place of glorious, abundant, and exuberant life. The wildly differing species that inhabit our planet have emerged over the last six hundred thousand years. They have a common heritage that goes back much further, to the origins of bacterial life more than 3.5 billion years ago. They have evolved in relationship to each other, interconnected in delicate ecological systems. They are interdependent not only with each other but also with the Earth’s atmosphere, seas, rivers, and lakes, and the land itself.

Human actions such as releasing greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, ruthless fishing practices, the dumping of industrial and urban waste, the destruction of river systems and uncontrolled clearing of land destroy beautiful and mysterious species of creatures forever. A great number of these are unknown and unnamed. It is likely that among the unknown species there are many that could contribute to human health and well-being. If present trends are allowed to continue, the Earth will become a far more sterile and dangerous place. Human life will be radically impoverished.

The task facing the human community is clear. We are called to save what can be saved of the diversity of life. This may be the single greatest challenge that humans have ever been called upon to face. It is a task that will require every bit of human intelligence, cooperation, generosity, and commitment. There are clearly established scientific, medical, economic, aesthetic, and cultural reasons that motivate a commitment to biodiversity.

Table of Contents:

1. Introduction

2. Human beings within the community of life: “made in the image of God.”

3. The Creator Spirit: “Giver of life”

4. Ecological commitment and the following of Jesus

5. The diversity of life and the Trinity

6. The final transformation of all things

7. Worship and practice

8. Ecology at the heart of Christian faith