664: New Books, Films on Faith and Saving the Earth

The 40th anniversary of Earth Day is Thursday, April 22. All around the world this week, men and women are lifting up the needs of our planet. Don’t miss a single day of ReadTheSpirit, because we’ll be highlighting terrific books and films that you’re not likely to find, otherwise.

Why does this matter to people of faith? One of the top global Web sites trying to broaden the impact of Earth Day is www EarthDay org. Just click on that link and you’ll see a list of goals by this important coalition of activists. We think you’re likely to agree with nearly every point on their list!

We certainly believe that religion should help us save this planet—and we’re starting today with our NEW ReadTheSpirit Environmental Religious Resources page. This is a new, permanent page that we’ll expand over time—partly through your suggestions. Please, check that page regularly for fresh updates. TODAY, we’re already adding more, right here …

3 New Books on Saving Earth … That You Might Overlook

1 “Atlas of Global Conservation: Changes, Challenges & Opportunities to Make a Difference”

First, we need facts! The Nature Conservancy, founded in 1951 and focused on taking a science-based approach toward environmental issues, is the overall “author” of this lavish volume from University of California Press. It’s new for the spring of 2010, so the global information in these 80 full-color maps is as up-to-date as possible. Here are examples: Want to see the spots on Earth with the greatest surviving mammal diversity? They’re here in easy-to-understand color. Where are the Earth’s small but crucial “dots” of protected marine life? They’re shown here. Where are freshwater invasive species a threat? You’ll see global patterns. You can order “The Atlas of Global Conservation” from Amazon.

2 “How to Plant a Tree: A Simple Celebration of Trees & Tree-Planting Ceremonies”

Second, we need specific skills! At ReadTheSpirit, we love handy little books like “How to Plant a Tree” by Daniel Butler, an environmental writer whose background includes work with England’s Tree Council. Americans tend to have so many trees—and so many young trees—that we dismiss the importance of long-term planning for trees and woodlands. One truth that residents of the UK may understand better than Americans is this: We’ve got to start planting trees somewhere, if we want future generations to enjoy these giants! This little book is exactly what it says: a guide to selecting and planting trees and large shrubs. There’s even a section on how to “lay a hedge.” What makes this book unique? It’s not all horticulture. Sections of this book offer tips about connecting trees with our human rites of passage: engagement, marriage, births, anniversaries. Order “How to Plant a Tree: A Simple Celebration of Trees …” from Amazon.

3 “Water, Wind, Earth & Fire: The Christian Practice of Praying with the Elements”

Where does faith connect with “Creation care”? That’s a phrase now popular among religious environmental activists. For thousands of years, this wasn’t even a question. Religion and environment always intertwined. Remember that the roots of our spiritual traditions lie in ancient lands where life depended on the weather, the fertility of fields—and the overall balance of non-human life on Earth. In the past 500 years, in particular, the Western Christian world seems to have lost track of this connection. That’s especially true for many Protestants, millions of whom seem more focused on the “next life.” In 150 pages, Christine Valters Paintner helps to reconnect Christians with our own centuries-old traditions of praying with “the elements”—the connective tissue between our faith and true Creation care. Order “Water, Wind, Earth & Fire: The Christian Practice of Praying With the Elements” from Amazon.

(Originally published at readthespirit.com)

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