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Customer Review

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book connects environmental stewardship with the poor and Christian faith, March 12, 2010
This review is from: Tending to Eden: Environmental Stewardship for God's People (Paperback)
Interestingly Tending to Eden begins not with a lengthy proof for creation care, but with a call to justice. Scott walks the reader through part of his journey into Guatemala and how that helped him understand God's concern for the world. It was not his intention to work in an environmental area. In fact, he was uncomfortable with it at first. He wanted to help the poor, the hungry. However, through his own journey Scott helps the reader to understand how caring for God's creation is caring for the poor. He employs "upstream thinking" to address root causes rather than mere symptoms. He demonstrates this connection clearly using the example of deforestation.

Scott then spends some time talking about reversing the vicious cycle that often traps them in their circumstances and exchanging it for a virtuous cycle of reforestation and economic empowerment. In this he emphasizes the importance of helping the poor understand their own value. He notes, "but if we do for others what they can and should do for themselves, we rob them of their dignity and reinforce the lie that they have nothing to offer. We create dependency." He then brings the reader into a couple ways that Plant With Purpose and others are able to help while allowing the poor to utilize their gifts, namely through sustainable agriculture and helping businesses.

Scott then focuses on the importance of sharing the gospel in the process. He highlights the idea that without God there will not be transformation. Sharing the gospel is a key part of loving and caring for the poor.

He then steps back to take a more global perspective on all this. Here some of the key ecological issues (such as deforestation, biodiversity, and climate change) are discussed with exceptional clarity. The ecological problems are neither left with the poor, nor at a vague, global level. Rather, they are tracked all the way into our own backyards.

At this point Scott turns to the church. Here he points out the biblical basis for caring for creation as well as some of the church's history doing so. He says, "The biblical account is not just the story of God's love for his people and the redemption of humankind through Christ. It is that, but is also the story of God's love for everything he has made." People are hungry and Jesus offers hope and redemption for all things. The book concludes with a discussion as to how to get involved both globally and locally, how to "get in the game."

But wait there's more! (read that with your best infomercial voice) If this wasn't enough, the book also includes a small group study at the end, not to mention the ideas for making an impact as an individual, family, or church and a list of creation care resources.

There is much to like about this book. First, Scott does an excellent job of making very complex topics clear. This alone may be worth the price of admission. Not only does he explain what things like deforestation are but he helps you to see how these ideas connect to the poor and our faith. Sometimes I think we like that we do not understand such problems let alone their broader impact. It allows us to be ignorant. But once we understand them and their impact of God's children and His creation it is hard to sit idly by.

Secondly, the link between a broken creation and the poor is well connected. Scott connects the plight of the poor (both globally and locally) to environmental problems. Caring for creation becomes a matter of justice. For some caring for creation comes at the expense of ignoring the poor. Scott points out that caring for creation actually is caring for the poor.

This leads me to another point I liked about this book: upstream thinking. Scott does not settle. He does not merely target symptoms. Instead, he seeks out the root causes. In the case of the poor, a broken environment is often a major contributing factor. To settle for feeding hungry mouths alone, is to create dependency. That's not to say that there's not a time to feed the hungry. By all means there is. But we must also target the factors that keep them hungry. I quite appreciated this reminder to think upstream.

Fourthly, I enjoyed his point that all of creation worships God. Since reading this book I have paid particular attention to how many scriptures and worship songs say that all of creation worships God. There are a ton! Yet, that is often removed from our thinking. I appreciate that Tending to Eden reminded me that in caring for God's creation I am caring for fellow worshippers of the Almighty God. What a critical idea!

Finally, I was so excited to see Scott point out the hope that we have through Jesus Christ. Unfortunately, this is often left out of creation care literature. Or at least it takes a back seat. At Creation Hope, this is a core part of what we believe. So, when I saw that Scott gets it, I was overjoyed.

You might be wondering if this is the perfect book. No, it's not perfect. But what is? There were times where the structure of the book seemed a little hard to follow. Also, the section on the biblical basis for creation care was fairly short. That said, there is a whole Bible study in the back which certainly helps fill in gaps. But these and other minor issues are dwarfed by the great value to be had in this book.

If you are wondering about the link between the poor and the environment, if you feel like you don't totally get what we are talking about, if you want a book that is not a textbook but is seen through the lens of someone's life and work, if you want to better understand how to approach environmental issues from a Christian perspective, perhaps you should consider picking up Tending to Eden.
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