Book Review for ‘Climate Church, Climate World: How People of Faith Must Work for Change’ by Jim Antal

Climate Church, Climate World: How People of Faith Must Work for Change by Jim Antal

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

‘Climate Church, Climate World: How People of Faith Must Work for Change’ by Jim Antal is one of the most concise, coherent, and personal explanations of the Christian imperative for the Church to be at the forefront of addressing Climate Change that I have ever read. Antal expertly weaves scripture and theological doctrines with explanations of scientific data mixed and personal experiences/human stories to demonstrate of how Climate justice is an intersectional issue that Christians cannot ignore.

He starts out by laying down the facts of the climate crisis in which we live and all of its intersectional justice issues it causes/affects in chapter one. In chapter two, he demonstrates how God is the guide and framework from which we can address these intersectional issues of the climate crisis. He then explains how climate change activism must become a central vocation of the church today in chapter three. He then explains how a church can analyze itself for true climate justice work through different fruits, or marks, in chapter four. Chapter five explains how addressing the climate crisis is actually discipleship/training issue. He follows this up with an explanation of how Christian worship is a central pathway to manifesting discipleship and vocation through climate justice in chapter six. This puts an imperative upon clergy to be at the forefront of this training and justice work in the Church. As a result, Antal provides tangible advice and actions that clergy can take toward prophetic climate justice preaching in chapter seven. Chapter eight than explains how the Church can work toward communal action and communal salvation together through climate justice action, often in the form of civil disobedience as spiritual practice. Chapter nine explains how optimism, while helpful, is not ‘hope.’ In the face of the dire climate crisis facing us, positive thinking is not enough. We must have faith and trust in the HOPE that God will transform our actions toward climate justice into tangible miracles and change. And we must do this by having love, gratitude, and care toward the Earth through the worship and recognition of our CREATOR God. Finally, Antal closes out the book with an epilogue and appendix that provide first hand insights and resources for faith leaders (clergy and lay leaders) to use in moving their communities toward climate justice communities.

In considering how gratitude and love must ground our hope driven work rather than silence and fear, this quote was my favorite:
“ when considering civil disobedience and the other forms of witness, people have shared with me that love is their most powerful motivation-Love of God; mother nature; love a beauty; love of their children; love of creatures and plants and all their diversity; love the impossible way in which this planet provides all living things with everything we need to flourish. What I have seen time and time again is that when a person allows herself to love creation in these and other ways, and when a person also allows herself to face the extent to which humanity has compromised, extinguished, and threatened all that she loves, the courage emerges to respond to the call to bear witness. Gratitude is another powerful motivating force among those who bear witness-gratitude for having been given life; gratitude for God‘s creation and all the ways it has nourished one’s life; gratitude for the support that friends and loved ones are provided; gratitude for this particular moment, as well as the gift of time itself; gratitude for the dreams and aspirations that mysteriously arise from within…. Fear that what we love will be destroyed is a powerful catalyst for action. That fear is amplified if we learn that far off consequences will soon be imminent. But a person needs more than fear to stay engaged and make long-term changes and enduring commitments. If you are can be an affective catalyst. But the most powerful motivators and sustainers of change are love and gratitude” (144-145).

Be blessed by these words and act. Amen.

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