Earth and Word

David Rhoads (ed), Continuum, 2007, reviewed by Vern Ratzlaff

        ‘The ecological crisis is a spiritual crisis. It comes as a result of our alienation from nature…. Most of us no longer have a sense belonging to the earth, an experience of solidarity with plants and animals…. We have reduced nature to things’ (xiv).

        From this perspective comes Rhoads publication, with contributors writing from a spirituality rooted in creation. Eg the seminary where he teaches is designated a ‘green zone’, that attempts to identify what it means for his community and space to be ‘earth friendly in worship life, the educational program, the care for property, the personal commitment of the community members, and the responsibility to bring this concern before the wider public (xvii).

        Earth and Word contains 36 sermons on ‘Saving the Planet’. All of these are eminently worth reading (as they were worth listening to initially) and are faithfully exegetical (drawing heavily on Genesis, Psalms, the gospels, John. Far too large a range to deal with in a review, but a range that will provide resources for the pastor to be read as devotional literature, theological reflection, sermon projection, building worship material, and citing further resources.

        Among the most evocative of the best are James Cone (“Whose Earth is it, Anyway”), Ted Hiebert (“First Things First”), Ched Myers (“The Cedar Has Fallen: the Prophetic Word versus Imperial Clear Cutting”), Larry Rasmussen (“First and Everlasting Covenant”), George Tinker ( “Creation as Kin: an American Indian View”).

        But all helpful in focusing a theology of the created order and our part in it.

Vern Ratzlaff is a pastor and professor of historical theology at Lutheran Theological Seminary in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada.