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Earthwise: A Guide to Hopeful Creation Care Paperback – May 20, 2011
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"This is a book of life and a book of love. This is a book that will make your life count more for the benefit of others. This is a book that will help you love the natural world that fascinated you as a child. This is a book that will help you love your neighbor in a practical way. Read this book and you will be different. So will the world." --Dr. Joel C. Hunter, Senior Pastor, Northland Community Church, Orlando, Florida
About the Author
Calvin B. DeWitt is a professor in the Nelson Institute, University of Wisconsin-Madison, where he serves on the graduate faculties of Environment and Resources, Water Resources Management, Conservation Biology and Sustainable Development, and Limnology and Marine Science. His development of Au Sable Institute brought him the Friends of the United Nations 500 award. He serves as president of the Academy of Evangelical Scientists and Ethicists, an organization dedicated to responsible stewardship of creation.
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Dewitt is a deeply genuine and invested scientist and Christian, and his approach to merging these subjects doesn’t yield the superficiality that such a move sometimes risks. The book isn’t about the science, per say, but more about the shared experience of living in creation. By presenting clear scriptural, theological, and scientific support for creation care and stewardship, Dewitt responds to pervasive cultural appropriations of Christianity that allow for thoughtless destruction. Never sarcastic or combative, Dewitt extends his dialogue with faith into action and includes useful workshop and discussion guides which make the text ideal for group or class settings. All in all, the text is what it claims to be – a hopeful, well thought out guide for Christians in responding to environmental crisis.
The book’s only major drawback may be accessibility – while Dewitt strives to make his message intelligible and relevant to non-Christians, he relies on a great deal of background knowledge and cultural norms non-Christians may not share. In this sense, the book may work well to facilitate conversations between faiths, but this discourse will require more than the resources that the text provides.
DeWitt's first chapter begins by looking at the wonders of God's created universe and meditating on some of the incredible beauty we can observe and learn about. I found this a wonderful start to the book. Rather than make a quick acknowledgement of God's creative splendor and then move on to talk about how people screwed it up, DeWitt devotes the whole first chapter to reflecting and delighting in the marvel of the created world.
After that he lays down 7 primary areas where creation has been degraded, specifying things like land conversion and species extinctions. In this chapter he summarizes some of the major issues where people have not been caring for creation.
In the second half of the book, he examines a number of Bible passages that relate to God (and people's) attitude towards the creation, and then DeWitt lays down a theological perspective of creation care. The book ends by encouraging readers to practically implement and discuss what has been read with others. There are a helpful number of specific examples of how creation care can practically be carried out.
There were two things I, as an evangelical, found refreshing about DeWitt's book. First, though he is not necessarily a Biblical scholar, the majority of the Scripture passages he referred to and used, seemed to be handled with some care. There were a few times where I felt he may have pulled passages out of their original context and stretched their meaning. However, it was clear that DeWitt was NOT someone who disregards the Bible and was merely trying to make inroads into the Christian community. He clearly loves God, loves the Bible, and has allowed the Bible to impact his understanding of the natural world and how he cares for creation.
Second, I found it helpful that DeWitt did not bog down this book with dense statistics. This is not a scientific defense of various problems that are happening with our earth. It is more of an introduction to a Biblical approach to caring for the creation. I was glad that DeWitt stayed clear of technical jargon in seeking to communicate to the average person. Certainly, this book will not make everyone happy, but DeWitt communicated well with his primary audience I believe.
I found this book helpful and plan to refer back to it in the future.