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I admit I'm frustrated with politics as a conservative Christ-follower. I have been for some time. I don't think that my government or my representatives reflect my views, much less the views of the majority of the people in the U.S., much less anything outside of their own self-interest. I grew up in the Reagan era and in the urban South, there was a lot of pride in our leadership back then. We had an enemy in Communism, we were strong economically, and in conservative circles, everything just seemed "right" with the world.
Of course now, years later, I realize just how much was wrong with the world back then, and that politics glossed over much of the real challenge of making a positive difference. We fought the Communists, but we tolerated the racists and the bigots. We built great wealth, but we ignored the poor and let AIDS run rampant across Africa. The Berlin Wall fell, but walls of class envy and ethnic division were built up across our country. Today, much travel, experience and wisdom that comes with age, along with my beliefs, presses me to do something significant to help the poor, to change attitudes on race and to use our resources to better the world.
If only some of these things could be done without the muck and stench of politics clouding the way. In "A Faith of Our Own", I found a voice of many of these concerns in Jonathan Merritt's experiences. The book shares this sense that Christ-followers today, especially the younger generation--the one behind mine--wants to impact their world in a meaningful way. And, like me, they're turned off by the political banter. Worse, and I think Merritt does a masterful job of writing in this regard--they're just frustrated with politics in general and feel used as a "voting bloc" for others with agendas.
So how does one drop a political agenda and embrace the "human agenda"? A God-centered and world-impacting agenda? I think Merritt's book is a great place to start. If you have deeply held convictions that you feel are not represented by the left or the right, and want to find a line of thought and action as you seek to be a part of solving--really solving--some of our woes... you know, the ones in our own back yard where your own personal effort can do some good?--then be encouraged and emboldened by "A Faith of Our Own".
I must admit to my own bias with respect to environmental causes--frankly, I don't see the evidence for global warming--data actually suggests the earth is cooling. Nor do I think "climate change" is man made--but rather cyclical within the earth itself. So I read "Green Like God" from the position of a skeptic, and in that vein I would say I was surprised to find the book balanced, biblical and practical.
But I should not be surprised. First, I know the author, who truly lives what he believes. Jonathan is as thoughtful and open in everyday life as "Green Like God" indicates. Second, the author's theology and supportive reasoning is sound. He hits on all the major themes of environmental activism today and puts them into perspective. And his writing style is straightforward and humorous--I found this an enjoyable book to read.
I don't think the sky is falling or alarm bells need to be sounded with it comes to the earth--we're not going to "destroy it" or make it so that it "cannot sustain life". At the same time, you can't travel to the third world more than once and not see that there are some tremendous environmental issues we've created that must be dealt with (clean water, sanitation, responsible mining and foresting, etc.). I believe in a God-centered view of creation, that we have a responsibility to care for it, to work against pollutive activity, and to set an example with our own lives as we do so.
It's a shame that this topic has become so politicized. I think "Green Like God" is a great step in the right direction--a passionate, yet balanced and thoughtful look at this issue from a Christian perspective. I recommend reading it both for its helpful information, practical real-life suggestions, as well as its biblical viewpoint.