Friday, July 5, 2019

Ecological Praise

If like me, you're worried about the future of Earth and you see it as a spiritual issue, then this book about the glories of our Earth is a great tool to begin that conversation with your faith family, particularly your youngest children.

Picture Book: I Love Our Earth
Authors: Bill Martin Jr. & Michael Sampson
Photographer: Dan Lipow
Summary: In this beautiful book, photographs of international children accompany text that declares the gorgeous variety of Earth's environs. 
I love the beaming smiles on these kids' faces, 
the variety of spaces, some your children may not have imagined,  
the diverse faces so that all can find a bit of themselves in the pages,  
and the distinctive textures of Earth. 
The phrase, "I love our Earth," repeats several times
as we see reasons for our gratitude in details  
and wide spaces.  
Surprising aspects of Earth that we don't think to be grateful for are here 
along with more expected images.  
The 4 seasons are mentioned, 
but this is a celebration of year-round Earth!
Hanna’s Comments: Ecology has been a common concern for people of faith throughout the ages. For some religions, such as The Jewish Faith, practices are built on reverence and stewardship. But ecological stewardship is a relatively recent topic for Christians, particularly for those in more conservative churches. 
Check out these links to more PBT books about ecology. There's a book here at PBT called Glory that looks at this issue more theologically (and with very different images). Chris Van Allsburg's classic Just a Dream is such a powerful story! Because environmental concern is growing, you'll find many newly published books (secular and sacred) addressing this topic from various angles. This is a great topic for  engaging teens & young adults who are often more engaged in (and worried about) Earth's future. What a pragmatic faith issue! 
Why this book today? I like the simplicity of the text, especially for toddlers and preschoolers who respond strongly to photographs of other children. They can begin developing an ability to see God in nature. This skill is so important in spiritual formation. If you're looking for adult books about ecological stewardship (I've also heard it called Christian Environmentalism and the spiritual practice referred to as "creation care"), I suggest checking out the books of Matthew Sleeth. Here's his website
Original Publisher & Date: Charlesbridge, 2009
Age & Grade Appropriateness: 3 and up, Pre and up 
Formats other than Book: None at present
Scripture Connections: Any scripture that praises God's creation of or glory in nature or the beauty of Earth such as Nature Psalms (8, 33, 95, 102...) or  creation verses in Genesis. In an interview with biblical scholar Ellen Davis on On Being, my favorite podcast, Genesis 1:26 is discussed. Dr. Davis explains that the verb in the Hebrew language that has traditionally been translated "to have dominion" actually means "to exercise skilled mastery." She describes this idea as a sort of craft or art in which we are privileged to have responsibility for Earth. [Here's] a link to that interview entitled The Poetry of Creatures. This episode is fascinating and inspiring because along with it you get to hear some of Wendell Berry's beautiful poetry!
Idea(s) for Application: Read this book to a group of young children and talk about gratitude and seeing God in nature. Offer a simple gratitude prayer that will begin their understanding of ecological stewardship

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