Previous | Next

Fall 1992 · Vol. 21 No. 2 · pp. 72–73 

Book Review

Earthkeepers: Environmental Perspectives on Hunger, Poverty and Injustice

Art Meyer and Jocele Meyer. Scottdale, PA: Herald, 1991. 264 pages.

Reviewed by Michael Kunz

Are environmental issues such as deforestation, pollution, and the greenhouse effect important concerns of the church, or are they peripheral to the message of redemption and life in Christ? What are the interconnections of topics as diverse as hunger, militarism, genetic engineering and agricultural policy? What shall we, as children commanded to tend and keep the earth, do in the face of problems of such global scope? Art and Jocele Meyer address these questions with insights gained as teachers and, more recently, as workers with Mennonite Central Committee. They do so in a style geared for general audiences, with questions at the end of chapters to facilitate group discussions, and with references to encourage further investigation into the numerous topics addressed.

Earthkeepers is arranged into five parts, with the first part providing the theological justification for Christian environmental concern. Here the authors emphasize the concept of “ecojustice,” which “combines the concept of ecological living with that of economic justice for the earth and all of its people.” Human redemption is seen within a context of God’s plan of redemption for all creation. The second part provides the environmental justification for action, as the litany of global ecological ills is recounted. Earthkeepers begins in the third section to speak with a more distinctive voice. Reflecting the MCC priorities which Earthkeepers represents, environmental issues are linked to military spending, armed conflict, economic worldviews, poverty, and population. Considering the close relationship Mennonites have historically held with the land, it is appropriate that the final two parts of the book deal with issues of farming, food, and agriculture.

For those concerned with scientific accuracy, there are occasional misleading statements. These do not compromise the worth of the book in a general setting, but may require some comment if used academically. And due to the book’s attention to such a broad range of issues, chapters within the sections tend to be short and choppy. This may make it more usable for group study and reflection, but renders it annoying to those desiring a progressive flow of ideas.

Nevertheless, the perspectives and priorities of its MCC authors make this an appealing book. To a culture in which painless acts such as recycling bottles are trumpeted as a means of restoring the earth, Earthkeepers bears a more sobering message. Healing the scars of a broken planet cannot take place without a healing of the brokenness of people suffering from poverty, hunger, and injustice. Conversely, these human ills cannot in the end be remedied by programs which ignore the {73} dependence of the human condition upon an earthly creation which sustains us. Art and Jocele Meyer understand this to be inherent in the design of creation. For those who desire an introduction to this ecology of our condition, Earthkeepers is an appropriate book for study and reflection.

Michael Kunz
Professor of Biology
Fresno Pacific College
Fresno, California

Previous | Next