Christian History Institute

Sharing our story of faith across the ages

items tagged with environmentalism

Magazine Issues

  • Issue 119: The Wonder of Creation

    The Wonder of Creation: how Christians have responded to God’s “book of nature”


13 Sept 2016

About the cover

by the editors | Issue 119

We inadvertently left off the full credit for the cover image. We should have credited the Smithsonian and Art Resource:

Albert Bierstadt, Among the Sierra Nevada, California, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, DC / Art Resource, NY

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29 Aug 2016

Recommended resources

by the editors | Issue 119


Overviews of how Christians have thought about creation through the centuries include George Huntston Williams’s Wilderness and Paradise in Christian Thought (1962) and Christian Attitudes Toward Nature (2015). Discussions of monasticism , including how monks and nuns related to God’s creation, include Erik Doyle, St. Francis and the Song of Brotherhood (1981); C. H. Lawrence, Medieval Monasticism (1984); Jane Bobko et al., Vision: The Life and Music of Hildegard of Bingen (1995); G. R. Evans, Bernard of Clairvaux (2000); Christopher...

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29 Aug 2016

Something here sounds familiar

by Loren Wilkinson | Issue 119

POPE FRANCIS wrote me a letter last year—and he wrote you one too! 

The pope’s encyclical Laudato Si’ may well turn out to be the most important in a long line of papal writings on Catholic social teaching. More deliberately than any previous encyclical, this declaration is addressed not just to clergy, or to Catholics, or even to Christians. Rather, Francis says, “I wish to address every person living on this planet.” And perhaps no encyclical has immediately been noticed, read, and commented on by so many people, both inside and outside...

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29 Aug 2016

Fellow travelers?

by Matt Forster | Issue 119

John Muir (1838–1914)

Few American environmentalists and nature writers are as well known as John Muir; born in Scotland, he moved to Wisconsin at age 11. His family belonged to the Disciples of Christ, and as a child, Muir memorized more than half the Old Testament and all of the New. 

CH 119Order Christian History #119: The Wonder of Creation in print.

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While studying botany at the University of Wisconsin, Muir discovered his inspiration. In The...

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29 Aug 2016


by the editor | Issue 119

Christians have talked about God’s creation as an inspiration and a responsibility for 2,000 years. All the books, people, and movements won’t fit in this timeline, but here are some highlights from this issue and (at the bottom) some world events for context.

natural philosophers and scientists     mystics and poets     monastics and theologians     famous publications     communal societies     environmental activists and stewards


Origen (c. 184–254)

Antony (c. 251–356)

Pachomius (c. 292–348)

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29 Aug 2016

Getting back to the land

by Ellen F. Davis | Issue 119

kentucky farmHOW DO WE CARE FOR God’s creation? Christians have answered this question in various ways throughout church history. You’ll read about many of them in the coming pages.

One contemporary Christian response to this question comes from what has been called the “new agrarian movement,” largely based in the writings of Wendell Berry. Berry defined it as follows: “It is not so much a philosophy as a practice, an attitude, a loyalty and a passion—all based in close connection with the land. It results in a sound local economy in which producers...

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26 Aug 2016

Editor’s Note

by Jennifer Woodruff Tait | Issue 119

Jenn's farm
I WRITE THIS editor’s letter looking out over eight acres of rolling Kentucky bluegrass, a barn, a chicken shed, and a few different breeds of chickens: Barred Rocks, Brahmas, Buff Orpingtons. Somewhere in the meadow there are 26 goats, also of varying breeds: Saanens, Boers, Kikos, and our herd sire, a Myotonic (yes, that is the fainting goat breed; no, I have not yet seen him faint).

A little off to the right is a quarter acre’s worth of garden, which in late May is producing spinach, lettuce, radishes, turnips, scallions, and mint. The...

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26 Aug 2016

Cosmic worship, sanctified matter, transfigured vision

by Kathleen A. Mulhern | Issue 119

John of Damascus“GRACE IS EVERYWHERE.”

So testified the dying priest in Georges Bernanos’s The Diary of a Country Priest (1936), a gritty, tragic tale of an ordinary man’s journey to God. Though deprived of the church’s final sacrament, the priest had no concerns, for he found it all around him in the “light and dazzling beauty” of common roads and kicked-up dust. 

Freed slave Sojourner Truth (c. 1797–1883) also saw something extraordinary in the ordinary, writing, “’Twas God all around me. … An’ then the whole world grew bright, an’ the trees they waved...

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26 Aug 2016

Heaven under our Feet

by Jennifer Woodruff Tait | Issue 119

Henry David Thoreau (1817–1862) arrived on the shores of Walden Pond in 1845, fresh from his father’s pencil factory. On land owned by his friend and mentor, well-known writer and ex-minister Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803–1882), Thoreau built a 10-by-15 foot cabin. His inventory of materials includes “one thousand old brick: $4.00,” “two second-hand windows with glass: $2.43,” and “Hair: $0.31. More than I needed,” plus other items for a grand total of $28.12. He furnished it with a bed, a table, a desk, a lamp, and “three chairs … one for...

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26 Aug 2016

“Our garden must be God’s garden”

by Charles E. Moore | Issue 119

arnoldsIN JUNE OF 1920, Eberhard Arnold (1883–1935); his wife, Emmy (1884–1980) [the pair shown at the left]; and their five children moved from Berlin to the German village of Sannerz. Their new temporary home: a shed behind the village inn. Their goal: to put into practice the teachings of Jesus in the spirit of the first Christians in the book of Acts. Their vision: a community of goods and work, with an open door, as an embassy of God’s coming kingdom.  

the way of peace

What compelled the Arnolds to leave their comfortable home, and...

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