Questions for Discussion:
1. One of the major aspects of eco-theology—or any theology for that matter—is to return to the Bible for insight and direction when faced with contemporary issues. What merit (or lack thereof) do you see in this for providing assistance from an ancient source for our current environmental problem? Does the Bible really have anything worthwhile to say about our ecological predicament?
2. A major strategy for a number of eco-theologians has been to affirm and utilize the Wisdom literary and theological tradition from the Old Testament (which is also used by New Testament authors to describe Jesus). What “wisdom” do you see in this and why do you think these theologians have pursued this line of reasoning? What characteristics of Wisdom appear to you as both ancient and modern?
3. Discuss the pros and cons of the ecological models of God proposed by McDaniel, McFague and Edwards. Using our own image of God as a point of reference, what ideas about God in their positions appear novel, intriguing and/or objectionable to you and why?
4. This chapter introduced the biblical and theological idea of eschatology, which literally means the study of the “end time” and embodies the biblical hope for the future. How would you describe your own eschatology—not what you think will happen but what you hope will happen—for the future of humanity and the planet? What specific actions will you embrace that will assist in realizing your future vision?
Active Learning Exercises:
1. Chose a specific Christian denomination or other religious tradition (preferably your own if you have one) and research what official statements this religious community has made regarding the environmental crisis. Once the research is complete create a student led forum for your class to present and discuss the various statements.
2. Design a one day service learning “field experience” (a local environmental group, campus office, or public agency can assist in this) for you and a group of students to engage in some form of ecological restoration (e.g. invasive plant removal, tree planning, stream riparian recovery, etc.) in your local community. Create a digital “poster” or video of this event and present it to your class. (This could make a great extra-credit opportunity)
Dempsey, Carol J. and Butkus, Russell A., eds. All Creation is Groaning, An Interdisciplinary Vision for Life in a Sacred Universe. Collegeville, MN: The Liturgical Press, 1999.
Edwards, Denis. Ecology at the Heart of Faith. Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 2007.
Fowler, Robert Booth. The Greening of Protestant Thought. Chapel Hill, NC: The University of North Carolina Press, 1995.
Johnson, Elizabeth A. Women, Earth, and Creator Spirit. Mahwah, NJ: Paulist Press, 1993.
McDaniel, Jay B. With Roots and Wings, Christianity in an Age of Ecology and Dialogue.
Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 1995.
McFague, Sallie. A New Climate for Theology, God the World and Global Warming. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2008.
Miller, Richard W. ed. God, Creation, and Climate Change, A Catholic Response to the Environmental Crisis. Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 2010.
Rolston, Holmes. “Ecology and the Bible,” Interpretation, A Journal of Bible and Theology.
Rasmmussen, Larry L. Earth Community Earth Ethics. Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 1996.