In a world that is gravely wounded, where do we find hope – and how do our actions reflect our faith?
This list includes a range of books that reflect on the call to action, as well as those that offer practical steps for Christians. It will have two sections. The first, below, contains materials written explicitly for Christians or Christian groups that focus on a mixture of theology and action. The second will contain materials written for a general audience, with the focus on action.
Where should I begin?
The collection of articles in Environment and Hope, an issue of the journal Anvil, is something we keep coming back to: the theological reflections are deep and rich but accessible, and there’s a healthy dollop of thinking about practice, too! Planetwise, God Doesn’t Do Waste, and Cherishing the Earth offer gentle challenge, locate hope, and inspire action. Ruth Valerio’s L is for Lifestyle is a great introduction to ways of changing your patterns of living; her Saying Yes to Life offers a combination of theology and ways of taking action; and Just Living can inspire wider reflection on how we live well in a consumerist culture.
Why don’t you list …?
Some of what you are looking for might be listed in other sections – take a look at our complete list of theological works to check. Beyond that, this is a list in progress. If you have suggestions, email them to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
A reading list
Australian Religious Response to Climate Change: Christian Climate Action Kit – Not related to the Christian Climate Action network – just the title of the piece. A downloadable toolkit with practical steps for sustainability, and resources for learning reflection and action. Potentially very useful for small groups and congregations.
Dave Bookless, Planetwise: Dare to Care for God’s World (IVP, 2008) What does it mean to look at creation in the light of the whole Bible story – from creation to new creation? And how does that change the way we care for the earth? Designed to be used for individual reflection or small group study, with questions at the end of chapters. Accessibly written and engaging. There’s also a good video introducing the concepts behind A Rocha and Planetwise here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ql4mr6ykDFQ. If you like this book, you might also try Bookless’ God Doesn’t Do Waste (IVP, 2010).
Bramhill Methodists, Climate Discussion Groups (Lent 2021) – A wonderful resource for church groups that want to look at the theology and practice of responding to the climate emergency. Six sessions look at beauty, truth, justice, lament, action and hope.
Paula Clifford, Angels with Trumpets: The Church in a Time of Global Warming (Darton, Longman and Todd, 2009) One of the first books to look at the climate crisis in terms of issues around climate justice and the pastoral needs the climate crisis would create.
Green Christian has a wide range of resources that combine reflection and action. Among the older ones, Eco Cell helps small groups to understand the rationale for cutting their carbon footprint and takes them through processes for doing so. Joy in Enough helps people to think about how to “build a just economy within the ecological limits of the earth”
Peter Harris, Under the Bright Wings (Regent College Publishing, 1993, repr 2000) and Kingfisher’s Fire: A Story of Hope for God’s Earth (Monarch, 2008). Two books by the co-founder of A Rocha, Peter Harris, exploring its roots and its growth – with a focus on conservation and care for the earth. A valuable example of what people with a calling to creation care can do. Audio excerpts from Under the Bright Wings: https://www.arocha.org/en/resources/audio-under-the-bright-wings/
Martin and Margot Hodson, eds. Environment and Hope, Anvil 29.1 (2013) – A collection of short essays by theologians, scientists and activists responding to the question – how do we define an authentic Christian hope in the Anthropocene age? Available free online: https://content.sciendo.com/view/journals/anv/29/1/anv.29.issue-1.xml
Martin and Margot Hodson, Cherishing the Earth (Monarch, 2008) and A Christian Guide to Environmental Issues (BRF, 2016, rev ed coming in April 2021). Two excellent introductory works, both of which have associated study materials for small group study.
Hope for the Future, Church COP26 Guide (2021) – If you are interested in advocacy that springs from faith, this is for you! The focus is on the process of advocacy – working out your asks and meeting with your MP. Very handy – from a leader in the field.
Timothy Howles, Responding Faithfully to the Environmental Crisis: Christianity at the Time of the Anthropocene (Grove Books, 2019) – A belief that we can control the world through our technology has led us into crisis. What do Christians have to offer as a response to help us get out of it?
Hannah Malcolm, ed, Words for a Dying World: Stories of Grief and Courage from the Global Church (SCM Press, 2020) The people speaking in Hannah Malcolm’s collection lament – but also act courageously, and there is much in the stories shared that reflects on the action people are taking amidst their grief.
Hannah Malcolm, “Grieving the Earth as Prayer: A wounded speech that heals” The Ecumenical Review 72:4 (December 2020), pp. 581-595.
Pope Francis, Laudato Si’: The encyclical itself weaves a Franciscan sense of the ways in which creation reflects God’s love with analysis of economic, social and environmental injustices to produce an ‘integral ecology’ – and has a number of recommendations about lifestyle, policy and the role of Christians in rethinking how the world ‘works’/. CAFOD’s study guide (available for download online) is an accessible way of engaging with a complex work and embeds it firmly in its Catholic Social Teaching context.
David Shreeve and Claire Foster-Gilbert, How Many Lightbulbs Does It Take To Change a Christian?: A Pocket Guide to Shrinking Your Ecological Footprint (Church House Publishing, 2007) – Much has changed since this was first published, and there are areas where it is now out of date. Some organisations’ names have changed, for example, and there has been heartening progress in some areas – we wouldn’t ask people just to buy A-rated appliances any more, but now A+++. But with those caveats, this remains a useful book, which you can use alone or with a group as a way of sparking discussion and ideas for change.
Ruth Valerio, Just Living: Faith and Community in an Age of Consumerism (Hodder & Stoughton, 2017) “Every Christian in every generation down through the history of the church has had to work out what it means to be a follower of Jesus in their particular culture; for us in the twenty-first century, we must think about discipleship in a globalised, consumerist context”. The exercise of Christian simplicity in a world dominated by consumerism is a theme of Valerio’s work. This is the exploration which delves deepest – worth engaging.
Ruth Valerio, L is for Lifestyle: Revised and Updated (IVP, revised edition 2019) – A wonderful starter for people and groups interested in living in ways that show love of God and neighbour.
Ruth Valerio, Saying Yes to Life (SPCK, 2019) – Archbishop’s Lent Book for 2020. Uses the story of creation found in Genesis 1 as a starting point to explore the theology and practice of creation care. The aspects of creation – earth, water, etc – are explored: how does each one appear in Scripture? What is happening to each in our modern world? And how can we respond to the crises creation faces? Helpful blend of theological reflection, case studies, and suggestions for practical action.
Elizabeth Bomberg and Alice Hague, “Faith-based climate action in Christian congregations: mobilisation and spiritual resources” Local Environment 23:5 (March 2018), pp. 582-596. An interesting look at what factors help congregations to come together around climate issues.