Nov 4 2012

What Does It Mean to be Pro-Life?

Now choose life, so that you and your children may live and that you may love the Lord your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him.” Deuteronomy 30:19b-20

I don’t know about you but I will be glad when the election is over later this week.  Over the past several months I have grown both tired and discouraged by all the name calling and meaningless rhetoric.  It hurts me to see the country I love so polarized.  As both a Christian minister and someone who believes strongly in environmental stewardship it also bothers me a lot the way certain issues have been framed in the recent political debate.  The “pro-life” issue is one example.

In recent days I’ve been reading a book co-authored by Tony Campolo and Shane Claiborne called Red Letter Revolution: What If Jesus Really Meant What He Said?  I have admired the writings and teaching of Tony Campolo for many years.  I have only recently been introduced to the ministry and writings of Shane Claiborne.  In a chapter called “Dialogue on Being Pro-Life” Claiborne makes this interesting statement: “As Red Letter Christians, we need to be pro-life from the womb to the tomb.  Abortion and euthanasia, the death penalty and war, poverty and health care—all of these are issues of life and death.  And they are issues Jesus cares about because they affect real people.”  In a way I rarely hear voiced in the public debate both Claiborne and Campolo argue that being pro-life involves far more than just being against abortion.  They indicate that many people appear to be only “pro-birth” and are not really pro-life.  I think they have a point.

In the following chapter, “Dialogue on Environmentalism,” Campolo says “Not much is being said about environmentalism being a pro-life issue, but the two are related.”   This is something that I have believed for a long time.  Our attitude about caring for this planet we call home will reveal just how “pro-life” we really are.  You cannot tell me that it’s o.k. to pour toxins into our rivers, streams and lakes, to fill the air with pollutants, to use pesticides irresponsibly, or to carelessly destroy our forests, mountains and wetlands and still be “pro-life.”  The authors are right; environmentalism and being pro-life are related.  I just wish more people understood this.

I hope that this is something people will think about when they go to the polls on Tuesday.  I can assure you that I will.  I can also assure you that after Tuesday, whatever the outcome, it will remain a big concern of mine.  I trust it will for you as well.


(I took the top image in the Great Smoky Mountains of Tennessee, the middle image at Breaks Interstate Park in Virginia, and the bottom image in Montana.)

Sep 1 2010

Blasphemy and Creation Care

spring-cardinal-588“Let everything that has breath praise the Lord.”  Psalm 150:6

“Praise God from whom all blessings flow; praise Him all creatures here below.” (from  The Doxology)

In the book I wrote about on Sunday, Tending to Eden, the author allowed several leading voices in Creation Care to write small essays.  One of these was written by Tony Campolo and is called “Creation Care and Worship.”  In this brief essay Campolo argues that “we humans are not the only ones called to worship God.” He believes that the Bible teaches that all of God’s Creation was created to offer its Creator worship and praise.  There are certainly numerous biblical passages that back this claim.  Psalm 148, for example, says “Praise the Lord from the earth, you great sea creatures and all ocean depths, lightning and hail, snow and clouds, stormy winds that do his bidding, you mountains and all hills, fruit trees and all cedars, wild animals and all cattle, small creatures and flying birds…”

calling-pika-196If we understand that all things were created to worship God it will help us see Creation in a new light.  Perhaps it will even come to help us appreciate more our fellow worshippers and create within us a desire to learn more about them.  Recognizing that everything on earth was made to worship God will also affect how we treat the earth and its creatures.  We will do all we can to help preserve all species for, as Campolo says, whenever another species is made extinct “we have silenced a special voice of praise to the Almighty.”

In the final paragraph of his essay Campolo says, “To interfere with worship is blasphemy.  Thus, the obliteration of the environment has blasphemous dimensions to it.  Considering what we have done to nature, we need to repent, because we have hindered nature’s glorification of the God who created all things in heaven and on earth to praise his name.”

We can and should avoid blasphemy by being good stewards of God’s Creation and by making sure that we add our own voice in offering praise to God.  When all of Creation offers its praise to God what a beautiful song it must be!


(This cardinal and pika I photographed are just two examples of  those who join us in praising God.)