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For the Life of the World

An Eastern Christian Approach to Nature and Environmental Care

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Robin Gibbons

For the Life of the World: An Eastern Christian Approach to Nature and Environmental Care explores climate change and global ecological issues via the ability of Christianity—one of the world’s most frequently practiced religions—to provide insight. Author Robin Gibbons outlines the tradition of prior Christian involvement in the issue, drawing upon ideas of freely given care and human stewardship of the world. Recently, the issue of climate change and the Christian community’s inability to act against it has been characterized by a disconnect between human life and nature, with the biblical model of human stewardship subsumed by politics, business, and greed. In contrast, this book advocates for embracing an older model of Christian thought, theoretically surmounting the consequences of climate disaster through care and respect for nature.

For the Life of the World by Robin Gibbons is an invaluable book that provides a unique exploration on the urgency for an ecological care for our planet. This book cannot be endorsed enough for its thoroughness and overall challenge. Among the points Gibbons explores is the urgent need for all churches to collaborate together on this issue. This book offers an overall explanation that refers to the rich theological and liturgical tradition of the Eastern Orthodox churches and Melkite Greek Catholic Church since ecological approaches are all inclusive in their worship. Among some of the things explored and explained are the construction of Church buildings with their frescoes and icons, as well as the approach of the iconographer in using the elements of creation…. These are just some aspects of this book that Gibbons thoroughly investigates, explores, and explains. All are a means to show the importance of the churches to collaborate together to increase an awareness of the drastic need to care for our planet instead of using and abusing its resources for our own ends. It is an urgent call to collaborate with the creator in restoring peace, harmony, and unity within ourselves and all creation and at the same time increase that unity in Christ among churches and the whole of humankind.” —Sister Esther Pollak, OSB, Nun at Turvey Abbey and Founder and President of the British Association of Iconographers

“With Laudato Si’, Pope Francis placed environmental theology firmly within Catholic social teaching, not only as duty and virtue but because of the ordering of creation and each human’s place in society on the Earth out of which we were made. Robin Gibbons shows that this is not just an extrapolation from theology applied to the politics and scientific anxieties of the early twenty-first century but integral to the tradition of both East and West, Catholic and Orthodox. With light from the East as a Melkite Greek Catholic priest, he sets the Church at the forefront of stewardship ‘for the life of the world’, presenting the spiritual case for its salvation and preservation and thus its future growth towards perfection rather than loss.” —Father Mark Woodruff, Chairman of Society of St John Chrysostom

“Today we are witnessing a global crisis in the relationship between humanity and the natural environment. To face this ecological challenge, what is required is a significant cultural response that draws upon all our resources in a creative and imaginative way. The Christian theological and spiritual tradition has from its very beginnings ‘lived’ within its landscape, crafting an intimate spirituality in the desert, among the forests, and towards vast horizons of the seas. In For the Life of the World, Robin Gibbons makes a fine dialogical contribution, based upon his long familiarity and engaged commitment to the ecclesial, liturgical, and theological traditions of the Christian East. In the polyphony of concerned voices, For the Life of the World offers new and ancient perspectives for guiding us along the path.” —Anthony O’Mahony, Fellow at Blackfriars, University of Oxford, and the Sir Daniel and Countess Bernardine Murphy Donohue Chair in Eastern Catholic Theology at the Pontifical Oriental Institute (2018)