Pope Francis’s encyclical, Laudato Si: On Care for Our Common Home, has already generated reams of analysis and commentary from across the political spectrum (see related posting).
When the bound English version is released on July 18th, it will likely prove to be one of the best-selling books on climate change and religion. But it is just the most recent contribution to the public discussion conducted by religious leaders and book authors over the past decade. Following is an annotated list of key religion/climate change books published since 2007.
This listing is not intended to be comprehensive, and the descriptions are drawn from the publishers’ copy.
Laudato Si: On Care for Our Common Home, by Pope Francis (Our Sunday Visitor, July 18, 2015 / 176 pp., $12.95, paperback)
In his second encyclical, Laudato Si, On the Care for Our Common Home, Pope Francis follows and expands on Catholic teaching on mankind’s responsibility to care for God’s creation, and protect and care for the most vulnerable. This letter builds on the teachings of previous popes including Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI and Pope Saint John Paul II.
God, Creation, and Climate Change: A Catholic Response to the Environmental Crisis, by Richard W. Miller, Editor (Orbis Books, 2010 / 140 pp. $20.00, paperback)
The magnitude of the problem of environmental degradation and climate change requires a complete rethinking and reorientation of our way of being in the world. Responding to this crisis requires not only a conversion of the will but even more fundamentally a transformation of the imagination – that is, the capacity to think of other ways of being, thinking, and acting in the world. These original essays, by a distinguished group of Catholic scholars, assess the gravity of the situation and offer resources from the biblical and theological traditions for the necessary mobilization of will and the conversion of our imaginations.
Moral Ground: Ethical Action for a Planet in Peril, by Kathleen Dean Moore & Michael P. Nelson, Editors (Trinity University Press, 2011 / 504 pp., $18.95, paperback)
Moral Ground brings together the testimony of over 80 visionaries – theologians and religious leaders, scientists, elected officials, business leaders, naturists, activists, and writers – to present a diverse and compelling call to honor our individual and collective moral responsibilities to our planet. In the face of environmental degradation and global climate change, scientific knowledge alone does not tell us what we ought to do. The missing premise of the argument and much-needed centerpiece in the debate to date has been the need for ethical values, moral guidance, and principled reasons for doing the right thing for our planet, its animals, its plants, and its people. This book encourages a newly discovered, or rediscovered, commitment to consensus about our ethical obligation to the future and why it’s wrong to wreck the world.
Uplifting People and Planet: Eighteen Essential Jewish Lessons on the Environment, by Rabbi Yonatan Neril and Evonne Marzouk, Editors (Canfei Nesharim, 2013 / Kindle Edition, $7.95)
This book is the most comprehensive study in English of how Jewish traditional sources teach us to protect our natural resources and preserve the environment. These materials were originally created for the Canfei Nesharim/Jewcology Year of Jewish Learning on the Environment in 2012, and were released between Tu b’Shevat 5772 and Tu b’Shevat 5773. The materials were shared widely throughout the Jewish community, reaching more than 50,000 people. The comprehensive articles are compiled in this new ebook, Uplifting People and Planet, with a new introduction written by Rabbi Yosef Blau, Senior Mashgiach Ruchani Yeshiva University.
God, Creation, and Climate Change: Spiritual and Ethical Perspectives, by Karen L. Bloomquist, Editor (Lutheran World Federation, 2009 / 176 pp., $15.00*, paperback)
Many LWF member churches are deeply affected by and increasingly active in addressing concerns regarding climate change. Ecumenical, interfaith, and civil society collaboration is crucial in the efforts being made to seek changes in local, national, and global practices. Climate change is more than just a secular environmental issue; it is an issue that goes to the core of our faith and spirituality and is reflected in the ways we view the world. Climate change is moving us to reconsider how we have thought about God and the rest of creation. This resource was developed to address the theological issues involved in the changes people are experiencing and to address many of the questions or assumptions in these terms. (*This book can be downloaded, as a PDF, at the LWF website.)
A New Evangelical Manifesto: A Kingdom Vision for the Common Good, by David P. Gushee, Editor (Chalice Press, 2012 / 257 pp., $24.99, paperback)
Written by authors, theologians, and instructors affiliated with the The New Evangelical Partnership for the Common Good (NEP), the aim of A New Evangelical Manifesto is to introduce the work and vision of the New Evangelical Partnership and other leaders gathered who think differently about how conservative faith relates to politics. The New Evangelical Partnership for the Common Good (NEP) exists to advance human well-being as an expression of our love for Jesus Christ, which is itself a grateful response to his love for us and for a good but suffering world. A New Evangelical Manifesto discusses many “hot button” issues such as human trafficking, health care, race, abortion, global warming, and peacemaking. [The article on climate change – “Overcoming Global Warming” – was written by Jim Ball, who had previously (self)published Global Warming and the Risen Lord.]
A Climate for Change: Global Warming Facts for Fact-Based Decisions, by Katharine Hayhoe and Andrew Farley (Faith Books, 2009 / 206 pp., out of print and only available through 3rd party sellers)
For all the talk about climate change, there’s still a great deal of debate about what it all means, especially among Christians. A Climate for Change offers straightforward answers to these questions, without the spin. This book untangles the complex science and tackles many long-held misconceptions about global warming. Authored by a climate scientist and a pastor, A Climate for Change boldly explores the role our Christian faith can play in guiding our opinions on this important global issue. [Since publishing this book, Katharine Hayhoe’s efforts to reach out to the evangelical community have been featured in Years of Living Dangerously, Showtime’s 2014 series on climate change (see related posting)]
A New Climate for Theology: God, The World, and Global Warming, by Sallie McFague (Fortress Press, 2008 / 198 pp., $20.00, paperback)
A New Climate for Theology not only traces the distorted notion of unlimited desire that fuels our market system; it also paints an alternative idea of what being human means and what a just and sustainable economy might mean. Convincing, specific, and wise, McFague argues for an alternative economic order and for our relational identity as part of an unfolding universe that expresses divine love and human freedom. It is a view that can inspire real change, an altered lifestyle, and a form of Christian discipleship and desire appropriate to who we really are.
Serve God, Save the Planet: A Christian Call to Action, by J. Matthew Sleeth, MD (Zondervan, 2007 / 216 pp., $14.99, paperback)
Not long ago, J. Matthew Sleeth had a fantastic life and a great job as chief of the medical staff at a large hospital. He was living the American dream – until he saw an increasing number of his 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. The Sleeths have since sold their big home and given away more than half of what they once owned. In Serve God, Save the Planet, Sleeth shares the joy of adopting a less materialistic, healthier lifestyle, stronger relationships, and richer spiritual lives. With the storytelling ease of James Herriot and the logical clarity of C.S. Lewis, Sleeth lays out the rationale for environmentally responsible life changes and a how-to guide for making those changes.
Between God & Green: How Evangelicals Are Cultivating a Middle Ground on Climate Change, by Katharine K Wilkinson (Oxford University Press, 2012 / 234 pp., $31.95)
Drawing on extensive focus group and textual research and interviews, Between God & Green explores the phenomenon of climate care, from its historical roots and theological grounding to its visionary leaders and advocacy initiatives. Wilkinson examines the movement’s reception within the broader evangelical community, from pew to pulpit. She shows that by engaging with climate change as a matter of private faith and public life, leaders of the movement challenge traditional boundaries of the evangelical agenda, partisan politics, and established alliances and hostilities. Though the movement faces complex challenges, climate care leaders continue to leverage evangelicalism’s numbers, cultural position, ethical and [media] resources … to bridge God and green.
Also see 2012 series of articles on faith-based groups and climate change.