Happy week after Earth Day!  To celebrate early, my family planted two cherry trees.  Okay, we were two weeks ahead of schedule, and didn’t remember squat about Earth Day, really, but I saw the trees at the nursery, had always wanted some, and had the digging labor available for said weekend.  It all worked out.  Within days of planting these lovely trees, I was informed that this is the wrong area for sweet cherries, that we’ll probably never get much fruit, and if we do, the birds will likely have a feast first. Thanks for the encouragement!  Regardless, we’ve got some beautiful little trees that we plan to enjoy.

Earth Day has long been viewed with some measure of discontent by Christians.  The Flower Children started this, didn’t they?  And one wouldn’t want to put a stamp of approval on anything advocated by population-controlling tree huggers, now would one?  But by this 40th year, we seem to be approaching some measure of grudging acceptance of Earth Day, and of environmentalism in general (see this 2005 WaPo article).

While in college, my brother and I were visiting relatives out of state.  We were invited to visit with some friends and their parents.  During supper, the parents brought out a book they’d been reading, in which the author debunked some claims by various leftist ecologists.  These friends crowed over the expose’ of these ‘false’ assumptions that mankind was harming the earth, and proudly reasserted our rights to utilize all our natural resources.  I sat there dumbfounded.  Not only was I grieved that these people had lost a mountain of respect, but there I sat, without the guts to speak my thoughts out loud.  You just couldn’t risk being linked to the leftist crazies.

Enter the 21st century.  Green people began to come out of the woodwork, nearly everyone started to recycle, and evangelicals have been slowly, cautiously recognizing that there are responsibilities we must live up to if we are taking a long, hard look at our values.  In his latest (and “last”) book, The Radical Disciple, John Stott says, “It seems quite inexplicable to me that there are some Christians who claim to love and worship God, to be disciples of Jesus, and yet have no concern for the earth that bears his stamp of ownership. They do not care about the abuse of the earth and indeed, by their wasteful and over-consumptive lifestyles, they collude in it.”

Whoa.  So, why has the environment been ignored, and the evangelical church acted as an armchair quarterback, critiquing the efforts of others?  Church people who may have cared hesitated to risk the politics that were attached to environmentalists.  That is understandable.  But, in reality, our values should be linked to our actions, not suppressed for the bitterness of mere reaction.  That defensive posture holds out only the promise of subculture status, instead of prompting a more productive, visionary endeavor.

After college, I became known as the strange chic who washed Ziploc bags and had conversations (calm ones) with friends who were throwing away gobs of disposable plastic gunk.  I looked for conservative groups that would encourage me further in the desire to be smart with my actions.  Those organizations might have been out there somewhere, but they were hard to find.

Now, in 2010, there’s a new group in town.  Blessed Earth was founded by Dr. Matthew Sleeth, an ER doctor who resigned to promote environmental stewardship.  His goal is to see Christians get involved in the environment, without fear of political attachments.  Last week, on April 21, Creation Care held the largest event of its kind at Northland, a Church Distributed, in Florida.  I plan to listen to the rebroadcast online.  Hmmm… could this be the start of something?

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