If You Breathe Thank a Tree – Thoughts from Steve Bouma-Prediger

by Christine Sine

Tom and I have spent the day presenting to administrators from Christian Schools International in Baltimore.  The conference focus for this year is creation care as it relates to their schools.  I particularly enjoyed the presentation by Steven Bouma-Prediger, author of For the Beauty of the Earth.  There are many reasons for us to be concerned about creation care.  Steven talked about the 10 commonest reasons for being concerned about creation, all of which we need to consider as we grapple with our own concerns.

  1. If you breathe thank a tree – the first and most self centred reason for concern about creation is self interest.  If we don’t care for creation Steve said, our existence is imperiled.
  2. Consider the consequences to the seventh generation.  What difference would it make to our decisions if we considered their impact on our children and their children down to the seventh generation?  We not only inherit the earth from our ancestors he reminded us we borrow it from our children
  3. Live simply that others may simply live.  This adage from the seventies is still true today – more is not necessarily better – living with simple elegance is more joyful then living caught in our consumer culture (Bill McKibben).  A simpler way of life liberates us to no longer need to emulate the lifestyles of the rich and famous.
  4. Racial oppression and eco-justice are interwoven.  The racial composition of a community is the single variable that best explains the existence or non-existence of commercial hazardous waste facilities in that area.  We must make the link between environmental pollution and issues of racial and social equity, they are interwoven.
  5. The animal rights argument.    We should care for creation because certain kinds of non-human creatures are entitled to such care.
  6. Creation is valuable for its own sake – God created our world and all that is in it and therefore it has intrinsic value for its own sake
  7. We are all in this together –  All creatures are bound together in such a way that their flourishing is interdependent.  The way to tell if something is right is by whether or not it preserves the entire ecological community.
  8. Our job as humans is to serve and protect God’s creation.  Care of creation is part of our responsibility as Christian disciples.
  9. Care for creation is part of how God rules.  We are made in the image of God and therefore should be concerned about those things that concern God.  God rules by looking after the marginalized, seeking justice, showing compassion and caring for creation and so should we
  10. For the beauty of the earth.  Care for creation is a fitting response of gratitude for creatures like us who experience God’s bountiful and gracious provision.
So why do you care about creation?  How would you encourage others – in church, in your loval community, in your local or state government – to care for God’s creation?
If you would like to learn more about what Steven shares in his classic book For the Beauty of the Earth you may appreciate this video interview
And to finish off it seems appropriate to share this beautiful rendition of the wonderful hymn For the Beauty of the Earth hear sung by the Paya Lebar Methodist Girls’ School

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