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Environmental Reading List
Reviews marked were added at the most recent update.
Complete List of Books
Asch, Sholem, Moses,
Austin, Richard Cartwright, Environmental
Theology, 4 volumes (1987-1990; Creekside
Press, PO Box 331, Abingdon, VA 24210).
Barbour, Ian G., Religion and Science: Historical and Contemporary Issues. A revised and expanded edition of Religion in an Age of Science. San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, 1997.
A magisterial overview of issues surrounding the relationship between religious and scientific ways of viewing the world. Barbour opts for a panentheistic, process-oriented view of the world, in which the universe is seen as a multilayered system of levels of organization. Science and religion are both model-making activities, which strive to represent aspects of reality according to some integrative interpretive scheme. Barbour suggests that the universe can be interpreted as a cosmic community, in which God acts as a creative participant and all-inclusive community leader. This book will be helpful to anyone seeking a conceptual framework for the physical and metaphysical questions undergirding an environmental spirituality.– The Rev. Dr. Paul Nancarrow
Barnes-Davies, Rebecca (Editor), Energy in God's World: Our Future, Our Choice (March/April 2004 issue of the journal Church and Society , Vol 94 #4; available through e-mail order).
Though not a book, the 96 pp. of this journal are
the size of many a paperback book. Rebecca Barnes-Davies is Chair
of the national PC(USA) Presbyterians for Restoring Creation. This
issue brings together articles from 16 authors who introduce the
reader to such matters as: "Electric Power, Investors and Climate
Change," "Calling for a Just and Sustainable National
Energy Policy," "Electric Stewardship," "Energy,
Food and You," "Environmental Justice Principles,"
and "The Science of Climate Change." To each article Becky
adds thoughts "For Reflection and Action," and the issue
concludes with 4 pages of online resources.
John G. Gibbs, PhD
Berry, Thomas, The Dream of the Earth, Sierra Club Books, 1988 (paperback).
A passionate Priest, author, teacher, and geologian, Thomas believes the universe is constantly creating – we are part of this creating and our response and relationship can make all the difference. – Mary Jo Gould.
Cobb, John B., Jr., Sustainability: Economics, Ecology & Justice. Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 1992.
An excellent introduction to a central concept in ecoethics and ecotheology. While Cobb faces realistically the Earth-devastating results of our unsustainable lifestyles, he calls people to hope in the Spirit and hope-full action to change our destructive ways..– The Rev. Dr. Paul Nancarrow
Collingwood, R. G., The Idea of Nature (NY: OUP Galaxay Book, 1960), 183pp. in paperback
Collingwood (1889-1943) was Professor of Metaphysical Philosophy at Oxford University, and was one of our most influential thinkers at the time. He is known for many other books including The Idea of History and The Principles of Art. His lifework was intent on “bridge-building” between philosophy and the natural sciences. The Idea of Nature displays in outline 3 massive approaches to nature: Greek cosmology (Pythagoras, Plato, Aristotle), “the Renaissance view of nature” (from Copernicus through Kant), and “the modern view of nature” (biology, physics, and modern cosmology). – John G. Gibbs, PhD
Diamant, Anita, The Red Tent, St. Martin's Press, Inc. , 1997.
Dinah was the only daughter of the patriarch, Jacob, who was remembered for his twelve sons who became leaders of the twelve tribes of Israel. This story is a fiction account of the life of that daughter, but it is told by a woman who is well acquainted with the Jewish religion and her insights become a compelling tale. Dinah relates the importance of community in her life and the profound ways it affects her as she matures and becomes involved with the world. – Nan Stokes.
Deffenbaugh and Dungan, “The Bible and Ecology,” The International Bible Commentary, pp. 314-23 (William R. Farmer, Editor; Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 1998).
This concise survey of biblical creation texts includes a 1-p. bibliography, and excerpts from Pope John Paul II’s 1989 message, “The Ecological Crisis—A Common Responsibility.” 5 themes included: The Bible’s Holistic Vision; The Entire Creation is a Harmonious Community; Humans Created in the Image of God; Humans, the World, and Redemption; The Redeemed Creation.– J. G. Gibbs, PhD.
Eiseley, Loren, The Firmament of Time (NY: Atheneum, 1966), 184 pp. (in paperback).
“I make no apology for my attempt to treat simply of great matters, nor to promote that humane tolerance of mind which is a growing necessity for man’s survival,” states Eiseley. Elected in 1971 to the prestigious National Institute of Arts and Letters, Eiseley is a rare combination of naturalist and excellent writer. As a person of extraordinary spiritual depth and literary sensitivity, Eiseley has long been one of my favorite authors. This book, which received 2 prizes in 1961, inquires how the world, death, life, and humanity “became natural,” and asks: “how human is man,” and how natural is ‘natural”? –John G. Gibbs, PhD
Eiseley, Loren, The Immense Journey ( NY: Random House Vintage Books, 1957), 211pp. (in paperback).
A native of Lincoln, NE, Eiseley went on in 1947 to chair the Department of Anthropology at the University of Pennsylvania. This exploration of “the mysteries of man and nature” probably remains his most famous book. Check out, for instances, these chapters: “How Flowers Changed the World,” “The Flow of the River,” “The Judgment of the Birds,” and “The Secret of Life.” – John G. Gibbs, PhD
Eiseley, Loren, The Night Country (NY: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1971), 241pp (in hardcover).
In reference to W. H. Hudson’s landscapes, Eiseley finds that “always a strange nostalgia haunts his pages—the light of some lost star within his individual mind” (143). The book is dedicated “in memory of my grandmother Malvina McKee Corey, 1850-1936, who sleeps as all my people sleep by the ways of the westward crossing.” I aim to tease you with these snippets from his style. Check out here” “Paw Marks and Buried Towns,” “Barbed Wire and Brown Skulls,” “Obituary of a Bone Hunter,” and “The Mind as Nature.” – John G. Gibbs, PhD
Eiseley, Loren, The Unexpected Universe (NY: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1969), 239pp. (in paperback).
The book is dedicated “To Wolf, who sleeps forever with an ice age bone across his heart, the last gift of one who loved him.” The superb essay “The Star Thrower” is included here. The title is suggested by Heraclitus” statement: “If you do not expect it, you will not find the unexpected, for it is hard to find and difficult.” – John G. Gibbs, PhD
Eisenberg, Evan, The Ecology of Eden. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1998.
Written from a contemporary Jewish perspective, this book examines the tensions between "Eden" and "Babel" as types of the wilderness and the city, and introduces the notion of "Earth Jazz" as a metaphor for cooperative improvisation within the environment.– The Rev. Paul Nancarrow
Fick, Gary W., Farming By The Book: Food, Farming, and the Environment in the Bible and in the Qur-an, Cornell University, Department of Crop and Soil Sciences, CSS Teaching Series;T05-1.
Gary W. Fick, professor of agronomy, Cornell University is a comprehensive compilation of quotations from these religious writings, supplemented by brief annotations. The goal of the publication is to help current and future agricultural development workers understand and communicate in terms that audiences with those religious backgrounds will appreciate. More .... Tim Kautza, National Catholic Rural Life Conference
Fox, Matthew, Original Blessing; The Coming of the Cosmic Christ; A Spirituality Named Compassion; Creation Spiritualilty, Harper Collins, San Francisco.
Gibbs, John G., Creation and Redemption: A Study in Pauline Theology (Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1971), 194pp. (in hardcover).
A monograph in the series Supplements to Novum Testamentum (Vol. 26), this study is an early attempt to recover the place of the creation in one segment of earliest Christian thought. How could a first century C.E. rabbi, schooled in the Hebrew Scriptures of at least 2 creation myths, have no interest in the creation? Impossible, as I began to see by 1961. Some detailed attention is given here to Romans 5:12-21; 8:19-23, 38-39; I Cor. 8:6; Phil. 2:6-11; Col. 1:15-20; and Eph. 1:3-14. There is a survey of the evidence on pp. 134ff. The Journal of Biblical Literature in December, 1971 published my article (which I have misplaced) based on this monograph. – John G. Gibbs, PhD
Gibbs, John G., “Pauline Theology and Rehumanization,” Studies in Religion 5/4 (Spring 1975/6), pp. 373-79.
“The cosmic lordship that characterizes Pauline theology is the basis of the new order he proclaimed, an order of liberation.” So starts this article, which explores some of the relevance of cosmic Christology for contemporary life. – John G. Gibbs, PhD
Graham, Mark, Sustainable Agriculture: A Christian ethic of gratitude. The Pilgrim Press, Cleveland Ohio
Mark Graham, assistant professor of theology and religious studies, Villanova University, is religiously important for anyone who eats and ethically important for anyone involved in agriculture according to Edward Vacek, SJ, professor of moral theology, Weston Jesuit School of Theology. More... Tim Kautza, National Catholic Rural Life Conference
Gruchow, Paul, Grass Roots: The Universe of Home, Milkweed Editions, Minneapolis, MN, 1995.
Considered to be in the tradition of Wendell Berry and Rachel Carson, Paul Gruchow writes of the life on a farm in West Central Minnesota that he experienced as a youth. He writes an epitath for a world and time that is no more, for an approach to working with and within nature that was replaced by scientific techniques based on chemicals. It is a personal love story to each element of creation, a celebration of reqcquaintance and a mourning of disappearance. Paul Gruchow grew up in a family that did organic farming when it was not "stylish" and he grew to appreciate the beauty and simplicity of nature as God presented it to us. In his discussion of the Grotto of the Redemption in West Bend, IA, he sums up his view of nature and our relationship to it: "...we are all at the center of something, and no place automatically confers either virtue or simplicity. Human nature is human nature; it does not vary from census to census. We all stand in need of redemption." – Chuck Morello
Kirk, G. S., Myth: Its Meaning and Functions in Ancient and Other Cultures (London: CUP and Berkeley: U of California, 1971), 299pp. (in hardcover).
Myth is not falsehood, but truth presented in non-propositional ways. It is essential for readers of biblical literature to grasp the nature of mythic writing, given the amount of mythic material therein. The importance of myth for early Jewish and Christian creation theology can hardly be overstressed. Kirk’s study is widely recommended for scholars of myth, including Mesopotamian, Greek, and biblical. His “working typology of mythical functions” includes three: narrative and entertaining, “operative, iterative and validatory,” and “the third speculative and explanatory” (253-4). – John G. Gibbs, PhD
LaDuke, Winona, Recovering the Sacred: The Power of Naming and Claiming (Cambridge, MA: South End Press, 2005), 295 pp., paperback.
Leading activist/scholar writing from among the Anishinaabeg (Ojibwe) of northern Minnesota, Winona LaDuke brings to all of us the ecological wisdom of Native Americans. The sacred has to be "recovered" by "naming and claiming" a people's land, its holy sites, and its "relatives" among other creatures (such as sturgeon, horse, and manoomin or wild rice). In a splendid blend of wit, good humor, necessary polemic, personal experience (not only as Founding Director of the White Earth Land Recovery Project, but also as world traveler), and copious research, this book lays down its assertive challenge to a dehumanizing materialism that has relegated "the sacred" to an allegedly peripheral irrelevancy. – John G. Gibbs, PhD
Leopold, Aldo, A Sand County Almanac, Oxford University Press, 1989.
First published in 1949, this book is now an established environmental classic. Beginning with a beautifully written description of the seasonal chaanges in nature in the sandy areas of Wisconsin and their effects on the delicate ecological balance, this book proceeds to examples of man's destructive interference and ends with a plea for a wilderness aesthetic conservation ethic. – Mary Jo Gould.
Linzey, Andrew, Animal Gospel (Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2000), 171 pp., paperback.
Linzey is the world's first professor in Christian theology and animal rights. He is at Mansfield College, Oxford University where he has championed animal rights for some 30 years, and where he wrote this book under the title Animal Gospel: Christian Faith as if Animals Mattered. It was first published by Hodder and Stoughton in 1998. Part I of the book lays out biblical bases (in contrast to certain church teachings) for animal rights within a spiritual vision of compassion. Part 2 challenges cruelty to animals in the name of scientific research or for the sake of fancy furs to wear or for meat eteing, all such being "works of darkness." If you ever wanted to be a vegetarian or a vegan, but could never quite persuade yourself to make that change, Linzey just might convert you! – John G. Gibbs, PhD
Lopez, Berry, Crossing Open Ground, Bantam Books, 1990 (paperback).
One of the best nature writers of the 1990s, Berry Lopez – with sensitivity, wit, and intelligence – reminds us of the age-old ties between the earth places and humanity. – Mary Jo Gould.
McDaniel, Jay B, With Roots and Wings: Christianity in an Age of Ecology and Dialogue. Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 1995.
A challenging exploration of the notion of "greenpeace": "the image of shalom in the Bible, ... that suggests a harmony among people, animals, and the Earth," "a state in which maximum cooperation is obtained among people, animals, and the Earth, so that all flourish." McDaniel suggests that we think of Creation as an unfinished symphony, in which Christ-centered human beings are called to play a special music of redemption, restoration, and healing for the planet. – The Rev Paul Nancarrow
McDonagh, Sean, To Care for the Earth, Bear & Co., 1986 (paperback).
Writing as a Colombian missionary from his experience in the Philippines, Sean McDonagh presents information that threatens all the countries of the earth. Christian churches, he believes, have been too slow to give lead in this area. A fresh look at the Bible and Christian tradition call for a passionate appeal to a new theology. – Mary Jo Gould.
McFague, Sallie, The Body of God: An Ecological Theology, Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1993
This book is a sequel to her Models of God (1987),
whose major emphasis is its effort to recover the value of the physical
body. It does this by revisiting Incarnation, especially as viewed
in the context of today's ecological crisis. In McFague's view,
there has been too much emphasis on God's transcendence. Her
dominant concern is the ethical one that humanity be "re-centered"
toward caring for the earth . Even more, the major incarnational
emphasis is on "inclusion of the neglected oppressed," including
oppressed nature. There is much in McFague's intention that most
Christians might well support. On the other hand, there are
some serious difficulties with this book, and these limit its usefulness
within the Church.
McFague, Sallie, Models of God, Minneapolis: Fortress Press
Understanding metaphorical language. Finding additional metaphores for God, especially those we encounter often in nature.– The Rev Margaret W. Thomas
McFague, Sallie, Super, Natural Christians, Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1997.
McGaa, Ed (Eagle Man), Mother Earth Spirituality: Native American Paths to Healing Ourselves and Our World, Harper & Row, 1990 (paperback).
Written by a Native American from the Ogala Sioux nation who believes it is time that native spirituality be shared in order to help save the earth. – Mary Jo Gould.
Nancarrow, Paul S. "Wisdom's Information: Rereading a Biblical Image in the Light of Some Contemporary Science and Speculation." Zygon: Journal of Religion and Science. 32:1 (March 1997), 51-64.
An exploration of the biblical figure of Wisdom as God's agent in creation, and the informing link between the processes of "God Godding," "Nature naturing," and "humans humaning." – The Rev DrPaul Nancarrow
Neidhardt, John G., Black
Elk Speaks, Simon &
Schuster, orginally published 1932, with many reprints.
Olson, Sigurd F., Listening Point (Minneapolis: Univ. of Minnesota Press, 1997; reprint from Knopf, 1958), 243pp. (in paperback).
This university press accurately claims in its jacket blurb: “Sigurd F. Olson (1899-1982) was one of the greatest environmentalists of the twentieth century.” For most of his life he lived in Ely, MN. His writings should be required reading for all visitors to the BWCAW. It was at Listening Point that Sigurd Olson built his retreat cabin, and there much of his observation in preparation for writing was done. Outside his Ely house there still stands the tiny one-room study where he did most of his writing. – John G. Gibbs, PhD
Olson, Sigurd F., The Singing Wilderness (NY: Alfred A. Knopf, 1989 reprint from 1956), 245pp. (in hardcover).
“I have heard the singing,” wrote Olson, “in many places, but I seem to hear it best in the wilderness lake countryt of the Quetico-Superior, where travel is still by pack and canoe over the ancient trails of the Indians and voyageurs” (pp. 5-6). If I had to pick one most favored piece of Olson writing, I think it would be the chapter herein titled “The Way of a Canoe.” – John G. Gibbs, PhD
Peacocke, Arthur, Theology for a Scientific Age: Being and Becoming – Natural, Divine, and Human. Enlarged edition. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1993.
Peacocke, a physical chemist and Anglican priest,
presents a picture of the universe as a nested hierarchy of organizational
levels, in which each level displays emergent properties that were
not present in, nor predictable from, lower levels. Thus atoms
present properties not guessable from protons, neutrons, and electrons;
molecules present properties not guessable from atoms; living cells
present properties not guessable from molecules; multicellular organisms
present properties not guessable from single cells; and so on.
Each new level exerts a kind of "downward causation" on its constituent
sublevels, so that the behavior of generations of termites, say,
has an influence on the evolving structure of termite DNA molecules.
Peacocke suggests that God interacts with the universe on the largest,
most all-encompassing level of organization, and exerts a "downward
causation" on even the slightest physical units of existence --
and on everything in between. Questions of human existence
can be interpreted in this framework of a universe in which God's
interaction and creativity is universally present -- as can the
articles of the Christian faith: creation, sin, incarnation,
redemption, prayer, sacraments, and salvation.
Polkinghorne, John, Quarks, Chaos & Christianity: Questions to Science and Religion. New York: Crossroad, 1996.
Polkinghorne presents science and religion as "intellectual cousins" in the pursuit of truth. This slim volume is an excellent introduction to the author's careful and balanced examination of the truth-claims of religious and scientific disciplines. The sections on the Anthropic Principle ("Is There Anyone There?") and prayer ("Can a Scientist Pray?") are especially helpful. – The Rev Dr Paul Nancarrow
Roberts, Elizabeth, and Elias Amidon, editors, Earth Prayers from Around the World: 365 Prayers, Poems, and Invocations for Honoring the Earth, Harper Collins, San Francisco, 1991 (paperback).
Included are writing from Walt Whitman, T.S. Elliot, Margaret Atwood, Robert Frost, Starhawk, D.H. Lawrence, Black Elk, Wendell Berry, Alla Bozarth, Isaiah, and many, many more. This book makes a wonderful gift. – Mary Jo Gould.
Rolston, Holmes, III, Genes, Genesis and God: Values and Their Origins in Natural and Human History (The Gifford Lectures at the University of Edinburgh, 1997-98; Cambridge University Press, 1999), xvi and 400 pages, paperback.
"The earth is remarkable, and valuable, for the genesis that occurs on it," writes Rolston, a genesis that is described by science in terms of "genes" and by theology in terms of "God." Here is an extraordinarily learned interdisciplinary study, firmly rooted in the categories and methodologies of biology and philosophy and theology, which well deserves its place within the prestigious Gifford Lectures series, now more than a century old. Rolston relates "cultural genesis to natural genesis." "It is important to see (so far as one can) how biological phenomena gave rise to culture, but it is just as critical to realize how culture exceeds biology, just as it is vital to see how biology exceeds physics and chemistry." Further: "Unlike coyotes or bats, humans are not just what they are by nature; they come into the world by nature quite unfinished and become what they become by culture. Though the genes remain indispensable, they no longer carry all the genesis. There is generative creativity in culture, a second level of genesis." Accordingly, as Rolston insists throughout, religion and ethics are not reducible to the genes of biology. There is no DNA of culture, it seems to this reviewer. John G. Gibbs, PhD
Shiva, Vandana, Water Wars: Privatization, Pollution and Profit (Cambridge, MA: South End Press, 2002), xvi and 156 pp., paperback.
Formerly one of India's leading physicists, Shiva is a world-renowned ecological activist who has at least 5 other books in print, who is Director of the Research Foundation for Science, Technology, and Natural Resource Policy, and who is a leader in the International Forum on Globalization along with Ralph Nader and Jeremy Rifkin. Imagine living on a mountainous terrain where pure water flows freely until a multinational corporation works out a deal with your government whereby that company "owns" the water, often in perpetuity, and makes you pay for it. That is the "privatization" that both threatens "the ecology of peace," and provokes the "water wars" that Shiva describes in detail. Without water there is no life, so the struggle is intense between capitalist greed and, on the other hand, the human rights that depend on equitably distributed water. Water is a gift from nature, and Shiva is an inspred and inspiring interpreter of its combined material and spiritual value. – John G. Gibbs, PhD
Swimme, Brian, and Thomas Berry, The Universe Story. San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, 1992.
A wonderfully poetic melding of scientific data and
spiritual interpretation, this volume presents the history of the
cosmos as an ever-unfolding and ever-intensifying celebration of
von Weizsäcker, Carl Friedrich, The History of Nature (Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Phoenix Books, 1949), 191pp. (in paperback).
Carl Friedrich von Weizsäcker, one of Germany’s most celebrated physicists, was “a natural scientist who really understands the unique dimension of human existence,” as Reinhold Niebuhr stated. He attempts to work out a synthesis on the basis of the specialized sciences that are “powerless to give us a world-view that could sustain us in the confusion of our existence” (p. 1). Chapters 2-5 look “back into the most distant past” (p. 15). Then Chapters 6-8 look forward “from the remotest reaches of cosmic history…to where we as human beings of today are standing” (p. 75)
John B. Cobb, Jr, has also compiled an Ecotheology Book List (titles only).
This page last updated 06-01-27.
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