The Joyful Environmentalists: Eugene Peterson and Peter Harris

The duo thinks of creation care not as an onerous duty but a natural response to the goodness of God.
The Joyful Environmentalists: Eugene Peterson and Peter Harris
Image: Rosie Perera

Creation care is a hot topic among Christians, but it is nothing new for longtime friends Eugene Peterson and Peter Harris. Peterson's recent memoir The Pastor (HarperOne) is saturated with environmental themes and metaphors, grounded in his annual visits to the family cabin in the highlands of Montana, where he now resides. In 1983, Peter and Miranda Harris and a few friends founded a Christian ecological study center in Portugal called A Rocha (Portuguese for "the rock"). It is now an international conservation organization that has recently expanded its work in the United States. Christianity Today editor at large Andy Crouch spoke with Peterson and Harris on the banks of the Frio River in Texas at a conference on faith and technology at Laity Lodge.

Eugene, how did you come to be so involved in conservation and environmental issues?

I grew up in a very sectarian world. There was no explicit care for creation. My parents were indifferent to it, and my church was indifferent. Hunting was the closest my family or my church ever came to being involved in the world around us. But after they killed their deer or their elk, they were done.

In some ways, that indifference was good for me and for our family, because our kids discovered environmental concerns as we hiked, fished, gardened, harvested, and canned fruits. It was more of a discovery and enjoyment. When I met Peter and saw him at work and listened to him, I realized this really was something significant and biblical.

Peter Harris: It's important to understand that A Rocha, as a movement, is driven by biblical theology. It's not a Christian attempt to "save the planet." It's a response to who God is. Therefore, the role of ...

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