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Green Like God

In conjunction with FaithWords, a division of the Hachette Book Group, UrbanWorkbench has two copies of Green Like God by Jonathan Merritt to give away! Details at the bottom of the post.

Everyone is talking about the environment. It is the topic of choice at social functions, it is a buzzword like “sustainability” that has been co-opted by every organization for marketing purposes regardless of their real care of the environment, and it represents the place that we live today and what we wish to leave for our grandchildren.

I recently received the book Green Like God by Jonathan Merritt, which, as its title might suggest, tackles the issue of environmentalism from a religious perspective – in particular the Christian perspective.

I liked this book for several reasons;

  • it doesn’t try to prescribe quick fix solutions to the problems we face with the environment,
  • it opens the spiritual discussion on the environment out from new age religions to mainstream Christianity, and
  • the author acknowledges his own shortcomings in his response to the environment.

The book is definitely for a Christian audience, with a scriptural approach to gain an understanding of God as He relates to the environment that He created. Essentially it is  bible-based worldview of stewardship of the world that God has created for us to enjoy. Supported with some basic statistics and descriptions of the destruction we are wreaking on the environment, Merritt gives us good reason to become greenies for God, he admits that the “American Way of Life” is not God’s plan for us as humans and suggests that we need to start taking better care of things.

One issue I have with the book, is that it doesn’t take a lot of time to address the root of many of the problems we face – the exponential nature of resource depletion, environmental devastation and population growth – and how God would respond to that. Essentially, on almost any metric, the past 150 years have represented the most rapid change, and that also applies to population growth. The only mention that population gets in the book is on pages 84 and 124, in reference to christian views on “population control policies”, however there is no reconciliation between God’s command in Genisis 1:28 (ESV) –

And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”

and the fact that we have more than filled the earth, well past the estimated carrying capacity. (A recent number I heard for long term sustainability of the planet was 100 million people – not the estimated 6.988 billion that currently “fill the earth”. Just as God doesn’t want to see us blowing up the Appalachian Mountains for Coal, he probably doesn’t want to see us destroying the fertility of every square foot of soil in the world as we attempt to feed ourselves. In fact, Merritt quotes Thomas Friedman from the book , “The World is Flat” in saying that with population growth comes increasing prosperity. This concept may have held true in the past 150 years, but falsely relies on a limitless resource base to keep drawing from. For more on this idea, check out any of the books written about the “Limits to Growth“.

I like Merritt’s gentle, humble approach to this topic. He tackles a tough issue with sensitivity and wisdom. This book is a relatively quick read compared to many tomes written on the environment or sustainability these days, but for any Christian it is a worthwhile read to see just where your priorities line up with God’s. It certainly isn’t intended to be the last word on the environment from a Christian perspective, but it is a great discourses on the subject that is highly readable.

The “Green Like God” Book Giveaway

To win your very own copy of Green Like God, leave a comment below answering the following question – What is the most difficult part of your life to reconcile against the goals of reducing our impact on the planet?
For a bonus entry, follow @UrbanWorkbench on Twitter and retweet the following:

Visit @UrbanWorkbench to Win “Green Like God” by Johnathan Merritt – http://ow.ly/1OU2B

Note: Two separate prizes of a copy of “Green Like God” will be sent to the winning entries. One entry per IP Address, contest open to residents of the USA and Canada, entries will be drawn at random. Contest extended to 5pm PST June 13th, 2010. Emails will be sent out to winners, if mailing details are not received within 5 days, prizes will be redrawn.

Mike Thomas

Mike Thomas P.Eng. ENV SP, is the author of UrbanWorkbench.com and Director of Engineering at the City of Revelstoke in the Interior of British Columbia, Canada. If I post something here that you find helpful as you navigate the world of engineering, planning and building communities, that’s wonderful. But when push comes to shove: This is my personal blog. The views expressed on these pages are mine alone and not those of my employer.

5 thoughts on “Green Like God

  1. Without a doubt my hardest reconciliation is my love for travel. It is frustrating to spend so much energy day to day being ‘green’ but then realize that one trip has a larger negative impact than the last 3 months of living at home did. But I’m not really ready to give up on airplanes yet…

  2. I appreciate your thoughts. Before I get to the question, I had one thought for you as to why Merritt might skirt the issue of population control being the root issue. Biblically, it’s population control is not the problem – our sinful nature is the issue. Our sinful nature is the root of overconsumption, unnecessary lawns, greed, eradicating forests without pause, not being able to work together, corruption leading to wasted resources, as well as how sin has impacted the environmental world (translation: creation) itself – all of creation is fallen and is decaying. That justifies nothing but Biblically is simply the root. It likely is just assumed by Merritt and honestly, you could spend a volume of books on the question of “Is man generally good or generally evil?” and we have done so over the course of human history.
    What is the most difficult part of my life to reconcile with reducing impact? Honestly, I think it’s my eating habits. I enjoy food and have realized recently what a comfort food is and how I connect it with leisure. Not necessarily a bad thing but it impacts how I overeat, how I like eating meat all the time, how I like cheap & quick food solutions, and so forth.

  3. This book sounds refreshing.
    It was a good review of the book. I would like to read it and am going to try and answer the question at the end.
    Thanks Anthony for your comments about the population issue, I see it much the same as you.
    It may be good to ask ourselves “What does GOD say about this topic?”
    Now for the question:
    What is the most difficult part of your life to reconcile against the goals of reducing our impact on the planet?
    Convenience.

  4. Like Tyrone, my failings often revolve around convenience. My job puts me on the road a lot, but I try to compensate by driving a fuel efficient car and driving slower. That is until I’m late and am frustrated by having difficulty in the snow. Even though I know I don’t absolutely need it, I’m currently wrestling with getting the idea of getting a car that drives better in winter. I almost wish $4 gas would help make my decision easier.

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