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Care for Creation: A Franciscan Spirituality of the Earth

Published by St Anthony Messenger Press
RRP $28.95

Drawing on the life of Francis of Assisi and centuries of Franciscan theology, tradition and practice, Care for Creation engages with the subject of creation care from a deeply Catholic perspective of reflective action; the marrying together of prayer, spiritual reflection, and practical action in the context of the ecological crisis.

The book is presented in four sections. The first describes the relationship between the Earth as God’s creation and Jesus as the Incarnation of God, the second examines the implications of Francis’ “Canticle of Creation” for our times, the third discusses climate change, and the final part addresses conversion in the Franciscan tradition. Each section contains chapters on ecology, theology and reflective action.

I highly commend this wonderful contribution to the growing library of books on ecology and Christian faith, to Catholics and Protestants alike, and to seasoned environmental campaigners and those who are new to the field.

For its anecdotes from the life of Francis, for example, how he used to pick up “Brother Worm” from roads and remove him out of harm’s way (I am a lover of worms myself!).

For its discussion of creation care not so much as an obligation or responsibility, but more an outworking and expression of love in response to the God of love.

For its guided meditations, which draw upon the work of deep ecologist Joanna Macy, and which are invaluable resources for people like me who get overly preoccupied with action at the expense of reflection.

And for its focus not only on individual conversion, but on how such conversion enables individuals to work together and become a locus of conversion in their broader communities, and for its practical suggestions for community-based activities.

Given the authors’ appreciation of ecology and interconnection, missing for me was a more penetrating discussion of eco-justice, or the historical connections between exploitation of the natural world and the exploitation of peoples.

I also found the ruminative style somewhat repetitive in later chapters, although it strikes me that this is in keeping with the emphasis on contemplation.

For those Christians who have a distrust of deep ecology, Care for Creation should allay their fears. Deeply Trinitarian and deeply Christological in its approach, the book stresses that conversion to God is also conversion to the Earth and to God incarnate in this material world. It presents a Christian perspective that moves us beyond stewardship towards an approach that appreciates and embodies the kinship of all creation.

Reviewed by Miriam Pepper, Project Green Church worker at Maroubra Junction Uniting Church in Sydney, and Faith Project Officer at The Climate Institute.