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Book Group Choices

A Lenten Reading List

Steven Nash, Virginia Climate Fever: How Global Warming Will Transform Our Cities, Shorelines, and Forests (2014 Virginia U.P.)

A carefully documented and well-illustrated review of climate science and the implications of alternative scenarios for the future health of Virginia's cities, shorelines and forests.  The book reviews the differing viewpoints on global warming causes and weighs the credibility of arguments. Although reviewing technical material, it is written at a level that can encourage discussion. The author is a widely published journalist who has been a senior research scholar at the University of Richmond.

Ben A. Minteer and Stephen J. Pyne (eds.), After Preservation: Saving American Nature in the Age of Humans (2015 Chicago U.P.)

The Prayer for Conservation of Resources (BCP) recites that "in giving us dominion over things on earth,  you made us fellow workers in your creation." This reader brings together thinking from scientists and environmental activitists in a series of short essays that collectively address what our active role should be in an era when the future of creation is so wholly dependent upon human activity and our capacity for choice.

Kathleen Dean Moore and Michael P. Nelson (eds.), Moral Ground: Ethical Action for a Planet in Peril (2010 Trinity Univ. P.)

This reader, with foreword by Desmond Tutu, is a compilation of short essays by prominent scientists, poets, activists, ethicists and religious leaders from many faiths. The essays collectively consider environmental protection from the perspectives including our survival, our children's future, earth itself and all its forms of life, stewardship of creation and as an expression of human virtue. 

Jenkins, Willis, The Future of Ethics: Sustainability, Social Justice, and Religious Creativity (2013)

 Jenkins addresses climate change as a “wicked problem”, one without any perfect solution that challenges our ethical competence. He proposes an approach he characterizes as prophetic pragmatism. He contends that world views change as faiths draw on their traditions to address new problems and that reform projects point the way. A lecture on climate change and the future of Christianity at Yale University develops ideas along this line that later find a fuller development in his book may be found here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4zYmTrOw-0k

On September 20, 2014, Jenkins spoke at the SoCC conference on "The Episcopal Church and Earth Care." A podcast of his remarks during the conference is here.

Grim, John and Mary Evelyn Tucker, Ecology and Religion (2014)

 Grim and Tucker examine how the religious teachings and practices of the world’s religions have both promoted and at times subverted sustainability. Religious life generally has an important role in sustainability because of its importance in orienting, grounding, nurturing and transforming human experience and societies. They contend that the engagement of religious communities is necessary if humanity is to sustain itself and the planet. A recent lecture by Grim and Tucker elaborating on their ideas may be found here: http://www.bc.edu/content/bc/schools/stm/edevnts/CampusEvents/PastLectures/20121/10-17-2013.html

 Haidt, The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Religion and Politics (2012)

 Haidt’s accessible book presents a theory of moral behavior grounded in evolution. Within this framework he explores reasons why liberals and conservatives talk past each other on so many issues and offers some suggestions for means to build mutual understanding and trust. Haidt is the Thomas Cooley Professor of Ethical Leadership in NYU’s Stern School of Business. Haidt discusses in this video how his thinking evolved while he was writing: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qN42ZLwNFBY

Kolbert, Elizabeth. The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History (2013). 

A staff writer at The New Yorker, Kolbert describes the 5 past mass extinctions in the geological record and examines the current one created by our dominance of the planet. 

Dieter Helm. The Carbon Crunch: How We Are Getting Climate Change Wrong -- And How to Fix It.  Yale University Press 2012. ISBN 0300186592.

Dieter Helm, a distinguished energy economist, has written The Carbon Crunch, a comprehensive, morally grounded critique of current strategies to combat climate change. As support that current strategies are failing, Helm notes that in the 20 years since negotiators in Rio de Janiero agreed on a baseline for climate negotiations, the rate of global carbon emissions into the atmosphere has accelerated making catastrophic climate change a significantly greater risk and that during that period in spite of continuing negotiations there has been no agreement other than to continue to negotiate. A review of The Carbon Crunch and additional background are here .

Charles Fishman. The Big Thirst: The Secret Life and Turbulent Future of Water.  Free Press 2011. ISBN 978-1-4391-0207-7; ISBN 978-1-4391-2493-2 (ebook).

 Drawing on interviews with leaders in water reuse and reclamation, scientific data from the U.S. Geological Survey and others, Fishman spells out in this accessible book how the 20th Century era of cheap and abundant water has come to an end and how pricing and use of water must change.  Among his most provocative observations are that 49 percent of the water consumption in the United States is used in energy production and that Americans use more potable water to flush their toilets than the total water consumption of the United Kingdom and Canada.

 Temple Grandin & Catherine Johnson. Animals Make Us Human: Creating the Best Life for Animals. Mariner 2009.  ISBN 978-0-547-24823-3 (pbk)

 Over the course of her remarkable career, Temple Grandin has drawn on her experience coming to maturity as an autistic child to revolutionize methods for humane slaughter of livestock.  This best seller discusses the needs of pets, cats, dogs, horses, and also livestock raised for food.  Livestock producers guided by her philosophy believe that animals regardless of species should be treated with respect and allowed to fulfill their instinctive natural behaviors without damaging their environment.

Wirzba, Food and Faith: A Theology of Eating (2011)

An extended theologically grounded exploration of mindful eating as a means for collaborating with God’s own primordial sharing of life through the sharing of food with each other and participating in forms of life and frameworks of meaning that have their root and orientation in God’s caring ways with creation. An extended interview with Wirzba discussing many of the ideas in this book may be found here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nvLpqfCidLU 

 Ellen Davis. Scripture, Culture and Agriculture: An Agrarian Reading of the Bible. Cambridge Univ. Press 2009. ISBN 978-0-521-73223-9 (pbk)

 In a series of essays, Davis, a lay Episcopalian on the Duke Divinity School faculty, explores the resonances between the spiritual duty of care for the earth as expressed in scripture, particularly the Old Testament, and the thinking of contemporary agrarians like Wendell Berry. Among other things, Davis suggests a nuanced reading of the “dominion” granted Adam in Genesis by drawing attention to the duty of care.

James Jones. Jesus and the Earth. SPCK 2003.  ISBN 978-0281056231 (pbk)

An examination of the implications of Jesus’s teachings for stewardship of creation; it contrasts with theology that has drawn primarily on the Old Testament.