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Climate Church Climate World

(Antal, Jim; Rowman and Littlefield, 2018)

Book Review by Robin Bodycomb

“For religious people, the environment until fairly recently was a second-tier problem: for liberal Christians it was secondary to the ‘real’ issues of hunger and war; to conservative people of faith it represented a way station on the road to paganism”.

(Foreword-Bill McKibben)

In recent times, the available literary offerings on our shelves and in our bookstores which deal with environmentalism in general, and climate change in particular, have become a tidal wave. For members of our own Uniting Church, however, locating such titles written from the Christian perspective is not easy to do.

Jim Antal is a pastoral leader in the United Church of Christ (US). He has been passionate and outspoken in his love of Christ for decades; he has also over that time passionately spoken out to the church at large of his commitment to address the issue of climate change as a realisation of his Christian calling.

Between the covers of “Climate Church, Climate World” Antal lays down his understandings of the role of the church in our time. These understandings embrace several strands which concern every one of us in the pews:

· God requires us to care for His gift of creation. Numerous passages of Scripture support this.

· God commands us to love our neighbour. Does that not also include our neighbour not yet born? Shouldn’t we strive to leave our world better than we found it?

· The life and work of Christ spoke directly to His body, the church – collectively, not merely individually.

In engaging with Antal’s writings here we are given a foundation and springboard for both evangelism and climate activism. These are resourceful to us in two ways. First, they direct us to answers to the personal questions of the relationship between our Christian faith and climate change response. (Does Christ call us to creation care?) Second, they facilitate ways in which we might share these, our own answers, with others whether they be within the church or outside. For both clergy and lay people, Antal provides material resources and weblinks, as well as approaches and suggestions for “passing it on”.

Without a doubt “Climate Church, Climate World” is a current, comprehensive and thought-provoking study into the Christian call to both worship and witness to our God who “so loved the world”. The book is a sure recommendation to individuals seeking to affirm a personal understanding of creation care and witness, to groups seeking a shared study of the topic, and to clergy seeking further depth in a (the?) significant contemporary challenge to the Church’s witness.

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