Monday, April 20, 2009

Gardening Eden

Although environmentalists want to conserve the environment, political conservatives generally don’t. That is the problem Michael Abbate tackles in his book, Gardening Eden, How Creation Care Will Change Your Faith, Your Life and Our World. Abbate speaks to the political conservative, to the Christian, to the conservative Christian, with the argument that God intends and desires us to be good stewards of all He has given us, including the earth. As such, believers should be motivated to care for the environment. He discusses why we should care about environmental issues from a spiritual and practical standpoint, refutes “Christian” arguments against environmentalism and gives 50 practical suggestions on life choices that will make a difference.

Because Gardening Eden is targeted toward the environmental “skeptic”, I feel some of the positions he takes are weak. I feel like he’s giving more credence than is due to the “unbelievers” that our environment is in grave trouble. I don’t think Abbate actually believes the anti-eco arguments, but he softens his approach by arguing why, even if those arguments have some merit, one should still take care of the environment. However, I guess I can swallow his pandering to the skeptics if he’s able to convince them they need to take care of Planet Earth in spite of their reservations. The ends justify the means if, in the end, more people who didn’t care about environmental issues do after reading this book.

One of my favorite comments to come out of the book was this:

As Reverend Richard Cizik told Bill Moyers in the 2006 documentary, “Is God Green?”: “I happen to think that to be biblically consistent means you have to, at times, be politically inconsistent.”

Climate change, species extinction, pollution, destruction of our natural resources, etc., are NOT political statements; they are scientific facts. I thank Michael Abbate (and Reverend Cizik) for saying so!

Another favorite comment from the book was Abbate’s quote of a bumper sticker:

God’s original plan was to hang out in a garden with some naked vegetarians.

I have no doubt Michael Abbate cares about the environment and desperately wants to see the Christian community ban together to advance to cause of eco-stewardship as a group and as individuals. The religious right cares about unborn babies and has made a lot of political hay out of that issue. But in my opinion, if they don't care for the environment, ALL babies -- and adults -- aren't going to survive very long without a world in which to live! Since political conservatives are his target audience, he can’t very well sound like me, an unabashedly rabid environmentalist! For what it’s worth, as a believer I agree wholeheartedly that God didn’t intend for us to destroy His creation and is heartsick when He sees what we have done:

Because of this the land mourns and all who live in it waste away; the beasts of the field and the birds of the air and the fish of the sea are dying. Hosea 4:3

Overall, I would recommend Gardening Eden, especially for the political and religious conservative in your life. You can buy a copy from your favorite bookseller or here from Random House:

BOOK GIVEAWAY: I have one copy of Michael Abbate’s Gardening Eden to give away this week. To enter the random drawing, please e-mail me at The winner will be announced on Friday, April 24th. Good luck!

Below is the summary from the publisher:


Before the snake, the apple, and the Ten Commandments, God created a garden, placed humans in it, and told them to take care of it.

“Spiritual environmentalism” did not start out as an oxymoron—it was an invitation. Yet today, many believe God’s original job description for humankind has been replaced by other worthier pursuits. So when did this simple instruction become so controversial? How does one sort through all the mixed messages? Is making the world a healthier place for the next generation really a responsibility—or even possible?

Gardening Eden is a new understanding of how the spiritual dimensions of life can find expression and renewal through caring for our incredible planet. Empowering, simple, and never polemical, Michael Abbaté outlines the Bible’s clear spiritual benefits of caring for creation, exploring new motivations and inspired ideas, and revealing the power of our basic connection to all people and living things through the growing interest in spiritual environmentalism.

Green living is no longer a fad—simple lifestyle solutions are now available to everyone. Gardening Eden shows readers how this shift transforms not only our world, but their very souls as they’re drawn into deeper harmony with the Creator. This book invites them to discover the powerful spiritual satisfaction of heeding the call to save our world.

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