In the lead article for this issue of Reflections, Mary Evelyn Tucker and John Grim conclude by saying, "A many-faceted alliance of religion and ecology along with a new global ethics is awakening around the planet...This is a new moment for the world's religions, and they have a vital role to play in the emergence of a more comprehensive environmental ethics. The urgency cannot be underestimated. Indeed, the flourishing of the Earth community may depend on it."
Sobering, yet hopeful, words. Like exhortations resonate throughout this issue, which we have named GOD'S GREEN EARTH: Creation, Faith, Crisis. From the article "Green Discipleship" by ethicist Larry Rasmussen, to evangelical thinker Richard Cizik's ruminations in a "New Moral Awakening," to the appeal for grassroots activism by Sally Bingham in "Power, Light and Hope," we are told that planet Earth is in danger of spinning out of control-but that people of faith, uniquely positioned to bring together theory and practice, can help right the planet. Wangari Maathai, the 2004 Nobel Peace Prize laureate, reminds us that the planet belongs to all, and she poignantly recounts her grassroots Green Belt Movement's successful campaign to plant millions of trees in deforested sections of Africa. And Gus Speth, dean of the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, speaks of "ethical duties" to rescue the ecosystem from ravages of the world economy, concluding with the affirmation, "We can save what is left."
It is our hope that this issue of Reflections, along with the accompanying study guide on the Yale Divinity School web site, can make a modest yet valuable contribution to assigning the task of religion in this age of environmental crisis. Perhaps, as Tucker and Grim suggest, the religious community can play as significant a role in elucidating the moral dimensions of this predicament as it did in the abolitionist and civil rights movements.