Welcome to Soil and Saints, an official blog tour stop of the book Care For Creation written by Christy Baldwin published by Tribute Books. (below you can read my review for this book)
This book details the ecological exploration of two seemingly caucasian children living in a rural/suburban area and their relationship to earth. They journey through reducing, reusing, and recycling and a Christian's responsibility to caring for the earth, all of which are good intentioned. The children learn how to clean up their neighborhoods, ride their bicycles, unplug unused appliances, and appreciate the beauty of conserved spaces, the stars at night, and swimmable bodies of water. Their journeys are accompanied by Bible verses that shed light on loving their appreciation of the wild and loving their Creator through caring for earth. Yes it is important to Care For Creation but this book has some shortcomings.
Although this book is relevant for a particular context it is not the type of book that I would share with the children in my gardening program or our neighborhoods here in Camden. Camden, NJ is one of the most polluted and violated places in the U.S. The children here are far more than disproportionately affected by the consequences of environmental injustice by the region. Places like Camden are systemically created so the children in this book and the areas surrounding Camden don't have to deal with their waste stream. When toilets are flushed, when trash is thrown away, even when we recycle it ends up in Camden. We need to teach our children to reduce the waste that they create because recycling generates A LOT of pollution and it pollutes the air we breath here.
I would have liked to have seen the children have more concern for loving their neighbors, an important aspect of caring for creation. I imagine these children do care for their neighbors, but it is not really mentioned or connected to their environmentalism. It perpetuates a certain form of colonialism for the children of Camden to see the affluence in this book. The children pictured in the book appear to be swimming in a luxurious isolated location. The only exposure these children really had to ecological destruction came from watching the television. It is important for children to know the interconnectivity of ecological and economic systems and how it is the poorest people and the often non-whites who have to live with our waste everyday and the systems in place that perpetuate the poverty of Camden, Detroit, New Orleans, Appalachia.
The record number of stars we have seen in a night here is 67. I think the book oversimplifies the current ecological crisis and how our lifestyle choices already have affected our neighbors, already have polluted our drinking water. It's not just the birds, bears, and our pristine views that are affected.
Check out our garden curriculum for some ideas on the depths our solutions need to go or one of our films.
Thank you for connecting the scripture passages with the care for creation, it is important. I also appreciate the section about planting trees, and conserving rainwater. This book will help to make the connections between faith and caring for creation, but we need to be certain that we don't oversimplify the problem or greenwash. Certainly we can love our neighbors by caring for creation.
If you would like to visit us here in Camden for some more ideas and to see what we are doing please feel free to contact me.