Climate change resources for pastors:
An annotated bibliography
Created by Doug Kaufman
Books and Articles
- Jim Antal, Climate Church, Climate World: How People of Faith Must Work for Change (Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2018).
- Jim Ball, Global Warming and the Risen Lord: Christian Discipleship and Climate Change (Washington, DC: Evangelical Environmental Network, 2010).
- Pope Francis, “Laudato Si” (Washington, DC: United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, 2015). https://laudatosi.com.
Each of the three resources above are accessible and thoughtful approaches to climate change from a Christian perspective. Antal comes from a liberal Protestant perspective, Ball from a conservative evangelical one, and Pope Francis, of course, from a Roman Catholic view.
- Richard Bauckham, Bible and Ecology: Rediscovering the Community of Creation (Waco, TX: Baylor University Press, 2010).
This book offers a greener look at all the significant biblical passages on creation, so that this is like an encyclopedia of creation Scriptures, including Matthew 6, Romans 8, and prophetic literature. It’s a great resource for a pastor’s library as a starting point for finding creation texts.
- Anthony Leiserowitz, Connie Roser-Renouf, Edward Maibach, Geoff Feinberg, and Seth Rosenthal, “Faith, Morality and the Environment: Portraits of Global Warming’s Six Americas” (Yale University and George Mason University. New Haven, CT: Yale Program on Climate Change Communication, 2016). http://climatecommunication.yale.edu/publications/faith-morality-environment/
This report examines the moral, spiritual, and religious aspects of climate attitudes of the “six Americas,” which the authors define as six distinct groups in the United States distinguished by their views on global warming. Most Americans do not perceive climate change as a moral religious issue, but many Americans consider themselves spiritual. Authors see potential for religious leaders to influence the middle four less engaged parts of the “six Americas,” many of whom trust religious authorities more than scientific ones.
- Sallie McFague, Blessed are the Consumers: Climate Change and the Practice of Restraint (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress, 2013).
McFague offers a feminist theological approach that mirrors the idea of Mennonite simplicity.
- Tim Christion Myers, “Understanding Climate Change as an Existential Threat: Confronting Climate Denial as a Challenge to Climate Ethics,” De Ethica: A Journal of Philosophical, Theological and Applied Ethics 1, no. 1 (2014): 53–70.
Climate ethics needs to take up the challenge of inviting public responsibility on climate; it is not enough for politicians and experts to address it. The author argues that the implications of climate change are largely received as an “existential threat” to the extent that they endanger the integrity of everyday existence. When our basic life perspective comes under serious question, anxieties surface that most people are profoundly motivated to avoid. So they deny climate change. The author calls for authentic and social approaches to climate denial, confronting anxiety in ways that open us towards ethical responsibility. He offers the example of activist Tim DeChristopher, who grieved but then also found empowerment to do something.
- Kari Marie Norgaard, Living in Denial: Climate Change, Emotions, and Everyday Life (Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 2011, Kindle edition).
This book offers a more nuanced reading of climate denial that is not just the domain of a small minority of literal climate deniers, but also of the majority who may recognize that it is happening but want to ignore the implications. People do not ignore it because they do not care. To the contrary, they care deeply, but ignore it because thinking about it causes feelings of helplessness and guilt. Her study is based on a year in a Norwegian village. When she applies her results to North America she adds two more difficulties: 1. Individualism that distrusts social solutions to problems—and climate change is a collective problem; and 2. Alienation from the political system, and, in general, a sense that talking politics is impolite.
- Michael S. Northcott, A Moral Climate: The Ethics of Global Warming (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis, 2007).
- ——— A Political Theology of Climate Change (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2013).
Northcott is one of the foremost theologians engaging climate change from a theological and ethical perspective.
- Kevin J. O’Brien, The Violence of Climate Change: Lessons of Resistance from Nonviolent Activists (Washington, DC: Georgetown University Press, 2017)
A great resource for Mennonites, this book responds to the idea of environmental degradation as slow violence and recommends five Christian nonviolent activists as exemplars of resisting climate change: John Woolman on personal integrity; Jane Addams on scaled democracy; Dorothy Day on faith in love; Martin Luther King Jr. on hope in the midst of uncertainty; and Cesar Chavez on the liberating power of sacrifice.
- Panu Pihkala, “Death, the Environment, and Theology,” Dialog: A Journal of Theology 57, no. 4 (Dec. 2018): 287-294.
- ——— “Eco-anxiety, Tragedy, and Hope: Psychological and Spiritual Dimensions of Climate Change,” Zygon 53, no. 2 (June 2018): 545-569.
- ——— “The Pastoral Challenge of the Environmental Crisis: Environmental Anxiety and Lutheran Eco-Reformation,” Dialog: A Journal of Theology 55, no. 2 (Summer 2016): 131-140.
Pihkala is the one of very few pastoral theologians engaging climate denial. The second article is a must-read for a pastor. He offers a diagnosis of the psychological problems preventing engagement of the climate crisis and then suggests pastoral responses for them.
- Mary Pipher, The Green Boat: Reviving Ourselves in Our Capsized Culture (New York, NY: Riverhead Books, 2013).
Pipher offers a more popular treatment of the emotional issues around climate change and environmental devastation. She reads our emotional lives well. She works with denial, the need to move from awareness to action, the need to cope, and she even has the idea of a transcendent response.
- Per Espen Stoknes, What We Think About When We Try Not to Think About Global Warming: Toward a New Psychology of Climate Action (White River Junction, VT: Chelsea Green, 2015).
A Norwegian psychologist offers a comprehensive look at how human psychology is ill-suited to address climate change. Through learning this, he hopes to demonstrate ways to work with, rather than against, psychology in our climate communications.
- Todd Wynward, Rewilding the Way: Break Free to Follow an Untamed God (Harrisonburg, VA: Herald Press, 2015. Kindle).
Wynward argues that we are constrained and colonized by corporations, captive to consumerism and empire. He sees our salvation in rewilding the way. Here the “way” is the way of Jesus and rewilding is a system-changing, ecologically grounded approach to spirituality. Wynward is an inspiring and effective storyteller who has worked at walking the talk found in the book. While not focused on climate change per se, the book does address it.
Online Curricula and News Sources
- Mennonite Creation Care Network (MCCN) at https:// mennocreationcare.org/ and the Center for Sustainable Climate Solutions at https://www.sustainableclimatesolutions.org/ are two Mennonite-related organizations with resources for responding to climate change. MCCN includes an excellent creation care curriculum, “Every Creature Singing,” with both Canadian and American versions.
- The New York Times offers “Climate Fwd,” a free weekday newsletter with climate-related news from a mainstream media perspective. https://www.nytimes.com/column/climate-fwd
- Grist.org also has a weekday newsletter. Based in Seattle, it calls itself “an independent, irreverent news outlet and network of innovators working toward a planet that doesn’t burn and a future that doesn’t suck.” The newsletter has included a number of Mennonite-related perspectives.
Reprinted from Leader, Winter 2019, Vol. 17, No. 2. © 2019 MennoMedia, Inc, Harrisonburg, VA. All rights reserved. Used with permission.