Reviewed by PAT LYTHE
Living in the Planet Earth, the latest by Accent Publications, speaks right into one of the major issues of our time and challenges those of us who live and worship in faith communities to examine if we accept that buying into and interacting with ecological issues is part of our core belief.
A wide range of writers has contributed chapters.
The earlier sections of the book explore the biblical sources of creation, different cultural understandings of the relation of God and the Earth (Maori, Muslim, Quaker, Sikh, and Catholic).
The second part describers various conservation and ecological awareness-raising activities and journeys.
I really enjoyed Manuka Henare’s essay on the Maori perspective, Zain Ali’s essay “Maui meets Mohammed” and, having studied and enjoyed Pope Francis’s encyclical Laudato Si’, found interesting Ann Nolan’s exploration of the shift of thinking from an anthropocentric view of the world to a more holistic view of an integral ecology. And, of course, anything Joy Cowley writes is both a delight and a challenge as with disarming simplicity she goes
straight to the spirituality of nature.
However, the practical applications of this ecological theological thinking were what I found challenging and fascinating. How do faith communities engage with ecology? How do they make it central to their faith life and action? — through coastal and lenten pilgrimages, various types of organic and community gardens, the setting up an environmental care group that promotes reflection on various dates and created Creation Stations, and Creation Rosaries, to the establishment of the Korimako Dominican Ecology Centre near Invercargill and the Mercy Sisters Papatuanuku Ki Taurangi Earth Promise.
The biblical sources, the tying together of practical action, prayer, reflection and spirituality, the individual journeys, the group initiatives, are all embraced in this volume of essays, which should inspire and encourage other faith communities to take up the challenge of making ecological issues central to their way of being.
Pat Lythe works in the Pastoral Office and is the coordinator of the Pastoral Services team in Auckland diocese.
LIVING IN THE PLANET EARTH — Faith communities and ecology edited by Neil Darragh (Accent Publications 2016, accent publications.co.nz or Accent Publications, Newman Hall, 16 Waterloo Quadrant, Auckland 1010); $35.75 plus $5.75 postage.