INTERVIEW

Calvin DeWitt is professor of ecology and environmental studies at the University of Wisconsin in Madison, and a leading figure in the fledgling Christian ecological movement.

Why do you consider it urgent for Christians to address environmental problems?

If people at an art gallery saw Rembrandt’s paintings being destroyed they would try to prevent the destruction. Similarly, the Earth is the canvas of our Lord and Creator, and his masterpieces are being destroyed.

We’re losing to extinction more than one species of plants or animals every day. Judging by how Christians treat creation, I would have to conclude that many no longer believe in God as Creator.

What change are you calling for?

Churches need to become creation-awareness centers, where the Creator God is honored. A church could reflect this by reclaiming the immediate environment of their building, perhaps purchasing adjacent land as a preserve to show it respects God’s creation.

Individuals can also reflect their awareness of creation in their stewardship. When we say the Lord’s Prayer, we ask for daily bread. But our visible prayer is, “Give us this day enough for ten years”; we’ll consume it today, and tomorrow we’ll ask for another chunk. When we go beyond what we need, not only do we often add misery to our own lives, but we also add misery to the lives of God’s creatures.

Aren’t there more important concerns for Christians to devote their time and energy to such as abortion and pornography?

All these are part of the same problem: the abuse of God’s creatures, the abuse of life. To view the recent flooding in Bangladesh simply as a natural disaster, for example, is to take too narrow a view. The flooding was largely due to the removal of trees, thus limiting ...

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