The Common Good

Building Bridges for Creation Care

Imagine you've become a mom for the first time. Looking at your infant daughter, you have a personal revelation that your conventional consumer-driven lifestyle is shallow. You don't feel worthy of your good fortune. You decide to change, taking the only steps you know how. You haven't been to church in 15 years, so you decide to go back. You also join the Sierra Club because you are passionate about conservation. You launch a consulting practice to help organizations implement green practices. A few years into it, you realize that without linking your good works to your faith, your efforts feel meaningless. You see a need to bring together environmentalists and faith communities, but you don't know the jargon or the players. You don't understand that you're being idealistic until you discover that the façade of Christian harmony is riddled with landmines. You realize at this moment that your message to obey God's mandate to tend the garden actually repels so-called "believers." Your hard-won faith is shaken.

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Circle of Protection for a Moral Budget

A pledge by church leaders from diverse theological and political beliefs who have come together to form a Circle of Protection around programs that serve the most vulnerable in our nation and around the world.

Then imagine that through grassroots environmental activism, you start meeting people all over the world who understand your mission and want to help. You discover that many are Christians. Imagine the difference it makes, after being misunderstood, to finally see the heart of Jesus manifest in human action toward a dying planet. Meeting these dedicated leaders and believers in action, you remind yourself that there is much to salvage. Gratefully, you realize that you are not alone.

Well, this is my story, and this is what the creation care community has meant to me. I speak not as a theorist or thought leader, but as a once-lonely change agent who now sees a more positive role in becoming a bridge builder.

I didn't know such a role existed until I became acquainted with the work of creation care pioneers and other activists for social justice. I didn't know what the Bible could teach us about environmental stewardship until I heard Matthew Sleeth speak in 2006. I didn't know what Jesus would have to say about systemic injustice until I read Brian McLaren's Everything Must Change. I didn't understand how radical living looked until I read Richard Stearn's The Hole in Our Gospel. Now that I'm on the other side of this, I realize how many more out there there still don't know. What may feel like a stale conversation to us remains a fresh awakening to others.

Now with the release of my book, Green, American Style, I realize that this journey has only just begun. My book, a lifestyle guide to green living, is written from a Christian perspective with main-streamers in mind. Effectively, it's a book about change, but often one confronts cultural barriers to embracing sustainability while celebrating our democratic and capitalistic roots.

I have had to constantly remind myself that genuine change isn't made on the national stage. It happens person to person, when nobody else is looking. It happens in living rooms, coffee houses, and small groups. It happens when we don't even open our mouths.

You may wonder how effective you're being or if anyone besides God cares, but I can assure you that people are watching. I know I am. And, as far as I've come, I still have miles to go. I will continue watching you for examples to follow.

Anna M. Clark is the author of Green, American Style and a contributor to Taking Flight. She blogs on Creation Care for SustainLane.com. For more on all things green, see www.annamclark.com.

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