Year of Award


Document Type

Thesis - Campus Access Only

Degree Type

Master of Science (MS)

Degree Name

Environmental Studies

Department or School/College

Environmental Studies Program

Committee Chair

Phil Condon

Commitee Members

Dan Spencer, John Lund


earthkeeping, environmental justice, environmental stewardship, jubilee, spirituality


University of Montana


As a young boy tromping through the woods of a Lutheran summer camp, I developed an almost innate conviction that Christianity held some correlate with ecological concern and action. Yet for most of my life almost all I heard concerning this destruction was silence. It seemed the environment, or at least environmental issues, lay beyond the pale of proper Christian concern. Even worse, the church and the environmental movement, which seem like natural allies, both held pejorative views of the other. For many people in my generation, the perceived apathy or hostility toward environmental issues on the part of the church started to strip away its relevancy to our time and lives. Unfortunately too often this has resulted in a tendency to throw the baby out with the bath water and turn instead solely to science, technology and secular philosophy for insights into an effective personal, political or cultural response. While the scale and urgency of the crisis certainly demands that we look to the best of our science, technology, and philosophy, our religious traditions too have much wisdom to offer our situation. This project is an attempt to explore and reclaim some of what may be useful and beneficial from our traditions as we seek how to live more sustainable and gentle lives today. As I was to discover, considerable ink has for years been devoted to scholarship on Christian theology and care for the Earth, its impact only now beginning to trickle beyond the academy. Far less attention has been paid on how to translate that “Christians ought to care” into the realm of daily life in a way that is at once faithful to our tradition and mindful of the Earth. In this thesis I tackle four of the many faith practices that can help with that translation: sharing a meal, Sabbath keeping, household economics and the ministry of reconciliation. The project utilizes a mix of personal reflection, biblical exegesis, contemporary scholarship, historical overview and narrative illustrations in its explorations of these practices.

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© Copyright 2009 Peter William Metcalf