Eco-friendly theology colors 'Green Bible'
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By Cathy Lynn Grossman
By Cathy Lynn Grossman
A new edition of the Bible tries to point out that seeds of environmentalism were sown in the Garden of Eden.
Just as "red letter" Bibles highlight the words of Jesus in red ink, "The Green Bible," in stores this week, uses green ink to spotlight more than 1,000 passages extolling the goodness of creation and God's charge to care for it.
The first chapter of Genesis is grass green; so are chunks of Psalms, and passages in which Jesus considers the lilies of the field and keeps his eye on the sparrow.
Publisher HarperOne's New Revised Standard Translation of the Bible is printed in soy ink on recycled paper and bound in eco-friendly linen.
Where many other Bibles have theological analysis, "The Green Bible" has essays by conservationists and theologians. It concludes with a reading guide tracking environmental themes throughout the Bible.
A national survey by Baylor University in Waco, Texas, released in September, found that most religious people of all denominations agree that "dramatic" changes are needed to prevent further damage to the earth, air and living creatures.
"We need a Bible like this," says the Rev. Richard Cizik, vice president of the National Association of Evangelicals, who has led his group into environmental activism.
Environmentalism faces hurdles among evangelicals, he says, citing suspicions that it's "liberal-leftist" or "witchy-pagan," or that it leans to government regulation.
Another hurdle: "Dominionism — the idea that God gave this to us and we can do what we darn well please.
"When people tell me Jesus never talked about the environment, I say, 'God says, "Love your neighbor," ' not drown him in melting sea ice," Cizik says.
This "green Bible" is not the first. A 1993 book also titled "The Green Bible," co-written by religious studies expert Stephen Scharper and anthropologist Hilary Cunningham, has no green ink but has the same intentions.
It intertwines ecology and ecumenism by drawing quotes from a wide range of sacred texts, saints and spiritual leaders, poets and scientists, says Scharper, who teaches about social movements at the University of Toronto's Centre for Environment.
"We wanted to address the tension between biblically based Christians and environmentally based Christians, and to show the corresponding views of other faith and humanist traditions," Scharper says.