The Common Good
March 2010

Films to Help Green Your Church

by Paul Burks, Willa Paton-Smith | March 2010

Both churches described in the March 2010 article, How ...

Both churches described in the March 2010 article, How To… Green Your Church have found showing videos is a great way to energize your congregation about God’s call to care for the environment! Here are some tips and practical suggestions:

Suggestions from Rev. Paul Burks of Christ Church Santa Rosa in Santa Rosa, California (who was also the editor of EarthLight: Magazine of Spirituality and Ecology for seven years):

Keeping the Earth: Religious and Scientific Perspectives on the Environment: 27-min DVD by the Union of ConcernedScientists and the NationalReligious Partnership for the Environment. Narrated by James EarlJones. Excellent resource for adults, home, and congregations; biblicallyrooted (Protestant, Catholic, and Jewish).

A Sense of Place: What is the Appropriate Relationship Between Humans and the Whole Living System? 1994, 28-min. DVD narrated by Susan Sarandon. Speakers are PaulWinter, Kirkpatrick Sale, John and Nancy Todd, andJeff Bercuvitz. They address the sense of connectedness to the web of lifeto find solutions to our human problems.

The Unfolding Story, 1993, 29-min. DVD. Scientists, authors, religious leaders, native people,and other visionaries relate the story that is now unfolding of an interconnected,interdependent, living universe. Featured are Thomas Berry, Elisabetg Sahtouris,David Suzuki, E. O. Wilson, Miriam MacGillis, Charlene Spretnak, John Cobb, AudreyShenadoah, and others.

Water: Sacred and Profaned, 1998,27-min. DVD. This video explores the sacred nature of this precious gift along withauthor Linda Hogan, Poet Laureate Robert Hass, authors Susan Zwinger and Colin Fletcher,scientist Jennifer Greene, and Poet David Whyte. Peter Coyote narrates.

Children and Nature, 1998, 27-min. DVD. Dr. Jane Goodall states her belief that it is essentialthat parents and other mentors of children guide them to make meaningful connectionswith the natural world. She shares some of the ways this is happening through marine biologistDr. Sylvia Earle, naturalist and children's guide Lee Cole, and Jeff Rutherford, director ofthe Marine Research Institute. Narrated by Peter Coyote.

The Living Land, 1999, 27-min. DVD.Over many years, our methods of growing food have becomeever more mechanized and complex. At the same time, we have lost millions of acres of good soilto pollution, erosion, andan ever-growing population. But there is a new awareness of the need tochange our perceptions about how we grow our food and how we treat the land. Four individualson the frontier of this effort—John Jeavons, Wes Jackson, restauranteur Alice Waters, and organicfarmer Mas Masumoto—share their insights in this moving video narrated by Peter Coyote.

Thomas Berry: Dreamer of the Universe, 60-min. VHS. An intimate conversation with the author of TheUniverse Story (with Brian Swimme). He is the father of the earth and spirit movement of our times,a geologian and a historian of cultures. First Run Features, 1- 800-229-8575.

Suggestions from Willa Paton-Smith of Heygood Memorial United Methodist Church in Atlanta, Georgia:

Wall-E, 2008, 98 minute-DVD. This widely available animated film’s plot dramatizes the effects of environmental degradation; for a family audience, a simple film such as this is easy for kids. Pixar.

Sacred Planet, 2004, 40-minute DVD. Another film that’s great for audiences including kids, this documentary featured diverse environments such as old-growth forests, Alaskan glaciers, and tropical rainforests. Disney.

Renewal, 2008, 90-minute DVD. Good for older kids and adults, this documentary features eight stand-alone stories of people from different faiths in the U.S. taking action to help the environment. Fine Cut Productions.

Kilowatt Ours: A Plan to Re-Energize America, 2008, 56-minute DVD. Also good for older kids and adults; filmmaker Jeff Barrie takes a candid looks at problems and solutions in America’s energy use. www.kilowattours.org.

Food Inc., 2009, 93-minute DVD. This documentary takes a hard look at the often hidden side of our industrialized food system, with all its environmental and health consequences. Includes interviews with Eric Schlosser, author of Fast Food Nation, and Michael Pollan, who wrote The Omnivore’s Dilemma. Magnolia Pictures.

Fresh, 2009, 72-minute DVD. Features people across the U.S. who are putting ideas into action to reconsider our industrialized food system. www.freshthemovie.org.

Coal Country, 2009, 85-minute DVD. This documentary shows the profound environmental and human impact of mountaintop-removal coal mining in Appalachia. Evening Star Productions.

Finally, some general advice from Willa Paton-Smith: There are many films available to show to promote creation care/earth stewardship. Churches should keep their audience in mind and start slowly. I personally wouldn't start with a topic like global warming since that is still so polarizing. But if they focus on creation care and how everyone, even kids, can play a role, then it opens up discussion. Most people are simply unaware of many things like where most of our power comes from (coal) and how it is being "mined", how our food is produced, how much power food and energy companies have over environmental/health issues. Simply increasing awareness will help some people "rediscover" their role in being good stewards of the earth. A good source of information: the Sierra Club review films with an environmental theme every Friday.

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