The Accidental Green Life

How Christian Piety Can Grace the Earth

Consider the case of Teri Blanton, discussed by Reece. Blanton is toward the end of the submission list. As a resident of Appalachia, living in one of the "poorest counties of one of the poorest states," she is easily classified among the broken and despised—despised, perhaps, for her social status and broken by chemical-dumping companies that have ruined her community. Blanton has seen most of her friends and family members die of cancer caused by polluted wells and land.

Simple submission to God by those in leadership could possibly have changed her experience, though it may have meant confrontation, non-submission to others. Besides showing concern for Blanton and her community, why might leaders submit to God in issues of land use?

Ken Gnanakan notes that God is "owner of the land" and thus first in line in these matters. In his book, Responsible Stewardship of God's Creation, Gnanakan bases this assertion about land on a number of Old Testament passages, including Leviticus 25:23: "The land is mine and you are but aliens and my tenants."

For those who prefer a New Testament discussion, the judgment of Revelation is strong motivation, in regards to this question of how we treat land. The 24 elders fall on their faces and say, "The time has come … for destroying those who destroy the earth" (Revelation 11:18). A quick look at the Bible lexicon severely limits wiggle room regarding the meaning of "earth." The term is used to refer to "arable land," "the ground," "the whole earth," "the inhabited earth" and is linked in concordances to other passages like, "In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth" (Genesis 1:1).


Closely linked to submission is the practice of service. As Foster writes, "Submission and service function concurrently." Calhoun's thoughts build on this: "We will never really serve others unless we see that the needs of our neighbors are as real and important as our own."

It's difficult enough to see the needs of neighbors who live directly before us; how much more difficult it is to see the needs of those yet to come. Understanding this, the Amish have a proverb: "We did not inherit the land from our fathers; we are borrowing it from our children." In some cases we are also borrowing it from faraway neighbors like Teri Blanton, or farmers in Argentina, or future residents who will someday take our place.

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May 25

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