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Earth & Word: Classic Sermons on Saving the Planet

Author: David Rhoads (editor)
Published By: Continuum (London)
Pages: 300
Price: £45.00
ISBN: 978 0 8264 2827

Reviewed by David Faulkner.

This collection of sermons comes predominantly from ‘mainline’ American Christianity, and is explicitly a complement to an earlier evangelical collection, The Best Preaching on Earth: Sermons on Caring for Creation, edited by Stan Lequire (Judson Press, 1996). Some have been published previously. Certain names will be recognisable by some on this side of the Atlantic - Wendell Berry, John Cobb, James Cone, Sallie McFague and Rosemary Radford Ruether, for example. Approaches vary greatly. Take just the final two entries: Barbara Brown Taylor links in with the Rogation Day tradition, whereas George Tinker writes from an American Indian perspective.

Inevitably, an anthology like this has stronger and weaker entries. I found Neddy Astudillo’s sermon on Jeremiah 29, from the standpoint of an immigrant, powerful. One can always rely upon Wendell Berry to supply profound thoughts in finely crafted prose. On the other hand, Karen Baker-Fletcher’s reflection strayed dangerously far from Christian orthodoxy in my opinion. Is it true that “we are the spirit of God” (pp.9-10), and that God is ‘embodied’ in other religions and in all creatures (pp.12-13)?

Not surprisingly, then, like the veritable curate, your cholesterol intake will be high with this book. However, so will your credit card balance, given the price. I suggest this tome is for the theological library, not the pastor’s shelf, unless you specialise in this area or someone were to gave you book tokens for Christmas.

David Faulkner

Methodist Minister, Chelmsford Circuit

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You are reading Issue 42 of Ministry Today, published in March 2008.

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