What is Ecotheology? 10 Books to Get You Started

What is Ecotheology? 10 Books to Get You Started

Ecotheology is a relatively new area in the field of theological ethics. It brings ecology into conversation with the practices and beliefs of the Christian tradition. This emphasis on the interconnected reality of humans and creation is a correction to the ways Christian doctrine and practice have been used to justify our misuse and overuse of the natural world. In particular, the notion of ‘dominion over creation’ has been used to justify both personal and systemic behaviors that disregard the health, wellbeing, and flourishing of all persons and creation. Ecotheology seeks to reorient that framework into one of relationships, compassion, and mutual flourishing. Drawing from a multitude of Christian traditions, this list of ten books about ecotheology will help you think about humanity’s sacred relationship to creation in new ways.  


1. Finding God in the Singing River by Mark I. Wallace
Wallace focuses on the idea of God as carnal Spirit who indwells all things. Alongside his green reading of the Bible and tradition, he uses the resources of deep ecology, Neopagan spirituality, and the environmental justice movement to rethink Christianity as an earth-based, body-loving religion.


2. Super, Natural Christians by Sallie McFague

In this powerful book, McFague crafts a Christian spirituality centered on nature as the focus of our encounter with the divine. Reorienting our religious life from the "supernatural" to the "super, natural," she suggests, can help us "see these earth others . . . as both subjects in themselves and as intimations of God."


3. Ecowomanism: African American Women and Earth-Honoring Faiths by Melanie Harris

Harris argues that African American women make unique contributions to the environmental justice movement in the ways that they theologize, theorize, practice spiritual activism, and come into religious understandings about their relationship with the earth. 


4. Gaia and God: An Ecofeminist Theology of Earth Healing by Rosemary Radford Ruether

One of the pioneers of ecofeminism, Ruether presents a sweeping ecofeminist theology that illuminates a path toward "earth-healing"--a whole relationship between men and women, communities and nations.


5. God in Creation by Jürgen Moltmann

In this pivotal work, Moltmann invites the reader to discover God in all the beings he has created and to find his life-giving Spirit in the community of creation that they share. This view which has also been called panentheistic (in contrast to pantheistic) asks us to bring reverence for the life of every living thing into the adoration of God. And this means expanding the worship and service of God to include service for God's creation.


6. Evocations of Grace: The Writings of Joseph Sittler on Ecology, Theology, and Ethics

As early as 1954, influential Lutheran theologian Joseph Sittler wrote on the need to think about "a theology for earth." Sittler prophetically and insistently gave voice to what he called "ecological commitment as theological responsibility." This volume gathers ten of his important works and conveys a powerful argument for the vital connection between Christian theology, ethics, and the natural world.


7. Earth-Honoring Faith: Religious Ethics in a New Key by Larry L. Rasmussen

Rasmussen pushes for an alliance of spirituality and ecology which reconciles the material requirements for planetary life with deep traditions of spirituality across religions while deeply rooted in the Christian tradition. He argues that these shared spiritual practices that can produce a chorus of world faiths to counter the consumerism, utilitarianism, alienation, oppression, and folly that have pushed us to the brink.


8. For the Beauty of the Earth: A Christian Vision for Creation Care by Steven Bouma-Prediger

Caring for the environment is a growing interest among evangelicals. This book provides the most thorough evangelical treatment available on a theology of creation care. Bouma-Prediger writes, "Authentic Christian faith requires ecological obedience". He urges Christians to acknowledge their responsibility and privilege as stewards of the earth. 


9. Sisters of Dust, Sisters of Spirit: Womanist Wordings on God and Creation by Karen Baker-Fletcher

In this book, Baker-Fletcher seeks to recover and renew the strong historic tie of black peoples to the land, sometimes broken by migration and urbanization. She cultivates the ecological side of black womanism with a keen awareness of environmental racism, reflection on her own journey, and a constructive theological vision. 


10. Resisting Structural Evil: Love as Ecological-Economic Vocation by Cynthia Moe-Lobeda

Moe-Lobeda argues that the earth crisis cannot be understood apart from the human crises of economic equity, social values, and human purpose. She argues that the whole earth is a moral community and lays out a need to rethink the meaning of Christian ethics. 


Bonus: Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer

Although not from a Christian perspective, this is an incredibly profound collection of writings. Drawing on her life as an indigenous scientist, and as a woman, Kimmerer shows how other living beings--asters and goldenrod, strawberries and squash, salamanders, algae, and sweetgrass--offer us gifts and lessons, even if we've forgotten how to hear their voices. She circles toward a central argument: that the awakening of ecological consciousness requires the acknowledgment and celebration of our reciprocal relationship with the rest of the living world. 


What books would you add to this list? Share below!

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