Why do we go there and what are the benefits of going outside especially on the back roads?
A new edition of a book linking spirituality with the need for deeper inner understanding provides some possible answers to that question. It also includes a compelling sense of urgency and responsibility for the future health and well-being of our natural world.
The Green Bible could be a book of inspiration and transformation for you as you put on your boots and grab your daypack for your favourite outdoor activities.
Author Stephen Scharper is a professor and director of the Trinity Sustainability Initiative, Department of Anthropology, School of the Environment, University of Toronto.
The first edition of The Green Bible was published in 1993, and “things” have changed. He co-authored the first edition with his wife, Hilary Cunningham, to whom the second book is dedicated; this edition is co-authored with a colleague, Dr. Simon Appolloni.
“Then, while 'global warming,' ozone depletion, and species extinction were the pressing concerns, the broader, cataclysmic effects of global climate changes were less widely acknowledged. No parliamentary assemblies had yet declared 'climate emergencies'. A system of climate change denial was effectively casting doubt on climate change science in mainstream media, and there was a widespread sense that a well-tuned tinkering with our global economy would rectify our eco-problems. A few more solar panels here, a few more LED light bulbs there, and an uptick in reusable products and recycling programs would serve as suitable course adjustments to a sustainable future. And the prospect of a catastrophic pandemic like COVID-19 bordered on the unthinkable,” said Scharper.
The authors have assembled quotes from scripture, children, poets, scientists, and dreamers.
“All will help us re-explore our deep interconnection with all our relations. In so doing, it might help us to lovingly embrace our home – and our selves,” they said.
While the starting point of creation of the book remains the same, the text is 70 per cent new material, with updated facts and figures as well as voices of youth.
“The wisdom of Pope Francis, whose pioneering 2015 encyclical, Laudato Si', represents a powerful game-changer in the religion-ecology nexus,” Scharper said. “A slight 'greening' of our 'business-as-usual' approach would get us on the right track.”
Drawing on inspiration and insight from Greta Thunberg, Autumn Peltier, and an awakened climate youth movement, The Green Bible says ‘that business as usual’ is not a viable option.
“The disastrous consequences to our climate – including increased hurricanes, massive flooding, and horrendous wildfires, swirling from Australia to Canada – all point to the devastating effects of our current climate moment. Moreover, tragically, as these words are being written, COVID-19 continues to ravage thousands of lives and lifeways around the world. That is where this work seeks to provide hope.”
Scharper said, “Those of us taking breaths and steps in the twenty-first century are faced with an unprecedented realization: we are the first human community to confront not only our personal mortality but also the potential death of the entire planet, owing to our ecological carelessness. This dizzying prospect forces us to rethink the fundamental presuppositions of our world. We are prompted to pose basic questions in light of the global ecological emergency: What is our role here? What is the goal of civilization? What kind of world do we wish to leave future generations? What is the nature of our interconnections within creation? What on earth are we doing? As the increasing signs of environmental destruction attest, however, we have bent the rules of our planetary household almost to their breaking point. Now is the time to take stock, to reach into the wells of our history and culture, and to listen to the voices compelling us to create a new relationship with the natural world. In so doing, perhaps we can begin to live within the earthly limits of our magnificent household.”
The Green Bible offers folks some advice on how to do this.
“Reduce your carbon footprint by 5 per cent. If you have extra cars, think of shedding one. If buying a car, think of an EV. If you live in an urban area with good transit, consider letting go of your car. My wife and I did this 15 years ago, since we were living in Toronto with good transit, and have saved on average $9,000 per year. As this is both personal and political, dedicate time each week to calling or writing your local. provincial, and federal representatives about the need to address climate change now! Consider the 30/30 plan endorsed by the Suzuki Foundation; spend 30 minutes in nature for 30 days straight. This can be done in a city park, a ravine, even on a tree-lined boulevard! Embrace the notion of ‘progress not perfection.’ Know that whatever positive steps you take in good faith make a difference.”
Post-election, “When Biden was declared victor in the US Presidential race, spontaneous street parties of jubilation and hope erupted across the United States and the world, reminding me of Martha and the Vandella's 1960s utopian classic, Dancing in the Streets. This new administration will be open to addressing the critical issues we face -- the pandemic, systemic racism, and our climate emergency -- in open dialogue with, rather than scornful dismissal of, scientific evidence, and promises to move within the currents of democracy rather than demagoguery. I sense the entire earth community is breathing a sigh of relief."
You can join the authors at the upcoming book launch, as they explore a new relationship with the natural world and other voices that span centuries, traditions, races, ages and geography.
“This will be advantageous for educators, pastoral leaders, religious community leaders, and all those seeking to integrate environmental awareness into the practical lives of their faith communities,“ said Scharper.
The Green Bible is published by Novalis. Participate in the book launch and webinar, Nov. 24, 2 p.m. by registering through Zoom beforehand online. Read this book if you are not afraid to be challenged and to have your conscience re-energized as you step out the door for many good reasons naturally.