Mon, 11 Mar 2013 11:15:00 CDT — by: Nathan Bourne, C'11, Sustainability Post-Baccalaureate Fellow '12-'13
On March 4, Sewanee alumna, Rhodes Scholar, and author Katharine Wilkinson, C’05, shared the story of how evangelicals are cultivating a middle ground on climate change and discussed insights from her research on the emerging environmental movement in various evangelical circles. Wilkinson’s book, Between God & Green, was published last year, and it is from this book that she drew much of the material for her talk.
The Boston Globe has called Between God & Green ”a vitally important, even subversive, story.” Compelled to action by religious belief, climate care leaders challenge conventional thought and advocacy on environmental issues, breaking traditional boundaries of the evangelical agenda, partisan politics, and established alliances and hostilities. From Capitol Hill to church pews, the burgeoning movement demonstrates real power to unlock solutions by bridging God and green.
Katharine’s research and her talk challenged paradigms and preconceived notions many hold about the evangelical movement. She presented a story of people of deep faith, many of whom underwent a sort of second conversion, who are willing to break rank with their more conservative colleagues to give voice to a need to invest in creation care, active and positive stewardship of the earth and its limited resources.
She presented a picture of a largely grassroots movement that has brought people together for a common cause and broken down political, religious, and other ideological boundaries. But she also took a realistic perspective, not wanting to create a Utopian vision of all evangelicals coming together to celebrate care for the earth. In many cases, the movement between God and green is still a fringe one, and is, at least in evangelical circles, largely self-contained. What has yet to be seen is a willingness to organize en masse across religious, cultural, and political boundaries in a way that energizes a critical mass of people of faith making the sorts of bold statements and actions that it will take to address the bleak and impending realities of environmental degradation and anthropogenically-influenced climate change.