Books and videos that RAISE recommends…
Books we’ve studied for our book club
Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer. A Potawatomi botanist reflects on nature and spirituality in profound, easy to understand ways. Our book club took about a year and a half to go through this, reading two chapters a month. It’s that good.
The Eco Bible by Neril and Dee. Two rabbis tackle Genesis and Exodus, verse by verse, interpreting with an environmental lens. Completely fascinating and raising lots of insights on every page.
Caring for God’s World: Creative Ecology Ideas For Your Church, edited by Kristin Kemper. This 100-page guide is divided into children and youth sections, each containing several games, activities, crafts, songs, plays, and youth liturgies. An older resource, but still relevant.
Operation Creation, by Barb Holtz with Jody Gunn and David Radcliff, is a five-session care for creation curriculum for elementary children provided by the New Community Project. This 14-page PDF resource contains lesson plans for children. Each includes an introduction, scripture, prayer, craft, activity/snack, story, mission, closing, and take-home assignment.
Keepers of the Earth: Native American Stories and Environmental Activities for Children, by Michael Caduto and Joseph Bruchac helps children connect with the natural world while telling important environmental concepts. Each section contains a Native American story, discussion ideas, interesting questions, and related indoor and outdoor activities.
Traditional Tree Tales from the Auerbach Central Agency for Jewish Education contains three short tales adapted from the Talmud or traditional Jewish fairy tales. These short and simple stories can be told to young children or acted out.
Sammy Spider’s First Tu B’Shevat by Sylvia Rouss is a delightful, vibrantly illustrated book about a spider who years to join in the Jewish festival of trees. If the children in your life like Eric Carle’s books, they’ll like this one, too.
Let’s Explore God’s World by Debby Anderson is an energetic romp across God’s wide, wonderful planet that prompts kids to join in the experience of nature while cheerfully guiding them in the adventure of caring for his world. Combining an instructional focus on the five senses with a spiritual focus on God’s gift of life, the book encourages kids and caring adults to have a blast exploring–and learning to protect–our earthly home.
The North Pole is Sinking! A Tale about Global Warming by Ethan Khiem Matasuda and Michael Matasuda is written by a schoolteacher and his son. This engaging children’s book helps children understand their roles as global citizens, the big picture of global warming, and the importance of making a contribution.
Wicked Cool Sustainable Solutions for the Earth Coloring Book by Becky Johnson is an engaging, creative tool to get kids thinking about their impact on the Earth. This terrific classroom or home-schooling resource includes sections on Local Environment, Food, Conscious Consuming, Energy, Transportation, and Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.
Ecology Crafts for Kids: 50 Great Ways to Make Friends with Planet Earth by Bobbie Needham is a colorful, user-friendly book full of large photographs and easy step-by-step instructions to make crafts from recycled or reused materials (and bits of nature). Projects include gift wrap, planters, envelopes, bird feeders, mosaics, puppets, and candles.
Play Lightly on the Earth: Nature Activites for Children 3 to 9 Years Old by Jacqueline Horsfall provides ideas for outdoor activities with an emphasis on learning and exploring while minimizing one’s impact. Each activity contains an objective, preparations, options and discussion questions well-suited for young children.
Journey for the Planet: A Kid’s Five Week Adventure to Create and Earth-Friendly Life by David Gershon is another useful guidebook full of earth-actions for kids, complete with reasons behind each action, materials needed, time, and fun illustrations.
Recycling with Arnie and Bing by Ann Wagner, a children’s book for elementary-aged students (primarily for 2nd and 3rd graders) Arnie (a pickle jar) and Bing (a lemonade can) meet in a grocery cart. Their friendship grows when they’re placed side by side in the refrigerator and discover they share a love of singing. But after a picnic, and they’ve been emptied, they’re tossed into a recycling bin, picked up by a truck, and lose each other among all the other recyclables! Will they ever see each other again?
Katharine Hayhoe is a climate scientist married to an evangelical Christian pastor. She knows how to talk about climate change to people of faith. This video series covers many topics including “The Bible Doesn’t Talk About Climate Change, Right?” and “What’s the Big Deal with a Few Degrees?”
Books for Congregations
The Promise of the Land by Rabbi Ellen Bernstein: On Passover, we tell the story of the Jewish people’s journey from slavery to freedom. Yet, for every story about peoplehood, there is a backstory about land and the natural world. All our biblical holidays commemorate the harvest and the land, the very soil out of which Judaism grew. The Haggadah, the Jewish people’s origin story, is necessarily embedded in an earthy reality. Today, we know that our well-being and our freedom depend on the earth’s well-being. If the earth and its systems are compromised, our freedom is compromised; life is compromised. This Haggadah seeks to enlarge our focus. It seeks to reveal the seder’s ecological dimensions and awaken its quiescent environmental meaning.
Climate Guardians: Thoughts and Actions for People of Faith, by David Cain, consists of seven brief essays about the intersection of the climate crisis with issues of faith. In response to the worsening climate emergency, the author hopes his book will inspire members of faith communities to take action on behalf of the global environment. “As science has gotten closer and closer to pinning down the reality of human-caused climate change and its consequences,” Cain writes, “our moral certitude has frayed.” This brief, eloquent book attempts to address the issues by sketching a moral arc. Climate Guardians offers inspiration and guidance for readers willing to commit to activism.
Re:FORM: The Decline of American Evangelicalism and a Path for the New Generation to Re:Form Their Faith by Tri Robinson Based on the state of our world’s culture, there’s no denying that the evangelical church in America is standing at an important crossroads. But how did it get here? And where exactly is here? Better yet, how does the church move forward? Pastor Tri Robinson answers all these questions in a modern-day treatise that challenges pastors and church members alike to find common ground and blaze a new trail for evangelicals in the 21st Century.
Sacred Acts: How churches are working to protect Earth’s climate by Mallory McDuff offers stories (including several from Interfaith Power & Light affiliates) about how religious leaders, activists, and everyday parishioners are acting in good faith to define a new environmental movement where honoring the Creator means protecting the planet. Includes a foreword by Bill McKibben and an afterword by the Rev. Canon Sally Bingham.
Hospitable Planet: Faith, Action, and Climate Change by Stephen Jurovics. Most books about climate change that include a religious argument do not address what individuals can do to help our society transform from fossil fuel use, other than changing personal behavior—and readers suspect that will likely not suffice. Thus, some readers are left feeling disheartened. In contrast, books that primarily address the environmental issues have limited appeal to people motivated more by faith than science, thereby leaving out many who could bring us to that tipping point. Hospitable Planet: Faith, Action, and Climate Change seeks to fill the gap in religious and secular texts by providing both a compelling biblical case for action on climate change and by identifying substantive measures to mitigate climate change and how to achieve their implementation.
Spiritual Ecology: The Cry of the Earth a collection of essays by leading spiritual teachers and others showing the deep connection between our present ecological crisis and our lack of awareness of the sacred nature of creation, this series of essays from spiritual and environmental leaders around the world shows how humanity can transform its relationship with the Earth. Combining the thoughts and beliefs from a diverse range of essayists, this collection highlights the current ecological crisis and articulates a much needed spiritual response to it. Perspectives from Buddhism, Sufism, Christianity, and Native American beliefs as well as physics, deep psychology, and other environmental disciplines, make this a well-rounded contribution. Contributors: Susan Murphy Roshi, Fr. Richard Rohr, Vandana Shiva, Chief Oren Lyons, Thomas Berry, Thich Nhat Hanh, Wendell Berry, Winona LaDuke, Brian Swimme, Satish Kumar, Joanna Macy, Bill Plotkin, Sandra Ingerman, Jules Cashford, Geneen Marie Haugen, John Stanley, Chief Tamale Bwoya, Sister Miriam MacGillis, David Loy, Mary Evelyn Tucker, Pir Zia Inayat-Khan and Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee.
Moral Ground is a book that brings together the testimony of more than eighty visionaries-theologians and religious leaders, naturalists, scientists, elected officials, business leaders, activists, and writers to present a compelling call to honor our individual and collective moral responsibility to the planet. In the face of environmental degradation, species extinction, and climate change, scientific knowledge alone does not tell us what we ought to do. Nor can political processes or economic incentives give us all the answers. The missing premise of the argument and the much-needed centerpiece in the debate to date has been the need for ethical values, moral guidance, and principled reasons for doing the right thing for the future of our planet, its animals, its plants, and its people.
Cooler Smarter: Practical Steps for Low-Carbon Living offers expert advice from the Union of Concerned Scientists on the best ways to reduce your global warming emissions. Based on an in-depth, two-year study, this new book shows you the most effective strategies for reducing your global warming emissions, and how to take action at work, in your community, and politically. You’ll find answers to such questions as: Do books or e-readers cause more emissions? Is it worth washing clothes in cold water? Is buying organic cotton really a better option for the climate?
Natural Saints: How People of Faith Are Working to Save God’s Earth, by Mallory McDuff, includes the stories of Interfaith Power and Light (IPL) affiliates helping to shape a religious environmental movement across the country, where justice as a priority for congregations means a clean and safe environment for all. This book highlights eight key ministries: protecting human dignity, feeding the hungry, responding to natural disasters, seeking justice, making a pilgrimage, creating sacred spaces, educating youth, and bearing witness.
Claiming Earth as Common Ground, by Rabbi Andrea Cohen-Kiener, gathers insights from ecology coalitions, emerging theologies, and spiritual and environmental activists to rally and inspire us to work across denominational lines in order to fulfill our sacred imperative to care for God’s creation. Cohen-Kiener and contributors clearly outline the shared values of our faith traditions that drive our commitment to care for the earth. Acknowledging the challenges in working together to implement positive change, they present steps-both big and small, for individuals and groups-for reversing our direction from consumption to sustainability.
Right Relationship: Building a Whole Earth Economy, by Peter G. Brown and Geoffrey Carver, uses the core Quaker principle of “right relationship”-interacting in a way that is respectful to all and that aids the common good as the foundation for a new economic model. Right Relationship poses five basic questions: What is an economy for? How does it work? How big is too big? What’s fair? And how can it best be governed?
A Climate for Change: Global Warming Facts for Faith-Based Decisions, by Katharine Hayhoe and Andrew Farley, untangles the complex science and tackles many long-held misconceptions about global warming. Authored by a climate scientist and a pastor, A Climate for Change boldly explores the role of the Christian faith can play in guiding our opinions on this important global issue.
The Heart of Sustainability by Andres R. Edwards, delves into the human dimension of this burgeoning international movement to build a better world. Author Andres Edwards frames the conversation about consciousness and sustainability by: Explaining how self-development is a key driver for planetary change. Describing how the confluence of consciousness and technological revolutions provide unique opportunities for balance and fulfillment. Exploring how we can move forward individually and collectively to create a thriving, livable future from the inside out.
The Green Bible, ed. by Harper One, is a Green Letter Edition of the NRSV Bible with verses that speak to God’s care for creation highlighted in green. The Bible includes a topical index and green Bible trail study guide, and inspirational essays from leaders and thinkers. Printed with soy-based ink on recycled paper.