Flourish magazine, Winter 2011
Five Questions For: Andy Patton
We started the New Year by welcoming a new member to the Flourish team. Andy Patton, who has written for Flourish magazine in the past, became the Flourish managing editor of online content this January and is taking the Flourish blog and Twitter and Facebook feeds by storm! Andy grew up in Columbia, Missouri and received his degree in English from the University of Missouri. After graduating, he helped found a ministry for college students, where he worked for three years. Since getting married in 2009, Andy and his wife, Lindsey, have been traveling through Asia, Africa, and Europe seeing God’s creation and his people. Andy has always loved writing, ministry, and seeing the beauties of God revealed in his creation. He’s excited to combine all three of those passions at Flourish, and we’re excited to work with him!
Check out the Flourish magazine interview with Andy for a peek into what inspires his life of stewardship:
1) What creation care-related scripture is most meaningful to you?
“And God saw that it was good.” This line repeated in Genesis 1 reminds me of the core truth of creation is its goodness. God made the earth to sing a song of praise back to him. Life east of Eden makes it hard to see that simple truth sometimes, as Paul talked about in the book of Romans when he said, “For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together…” As I write this I am sitting on a roof in Kampala, Uganda and I can hear the groaning. The smell of burning trash floats in on the breeze. Riding through the city on the back of a motorcycle we dodge around huge potholes that have grown on the streets like pock marks, reminding me of the law of entropy—that everything slowly breaks down here on earth. The elections are coming up here and we must leave the country until they are finished because we’ve been advised that it is not safe to be here during that time. Echoes of the groaning are everywhere. Not that Uganda is anywhere special. The WHOLE earth groans together.
But, in the words of Gerard Manley Hopkins, “And, for all this, nature is never spent; / There lives the dearest freshness deep down things…” Despite the reality of the world’s brokenness, the most basic truth about creation is still its goodness. From the roof I can see the blue sky. The trees are waving gently, rooted in soil that is so rich that almost anything grows out of it. I’m in the hands of friends whose hospitality also shows me about the Lord’s goodness. Birds float on the thermals and the Lord feeds them.
2) What is your favorite spot in the outdoors?
There is a tall ridge of rock in my hometown with a stream running through its base. Over the millennia the stream has worn away an archway in the bottom of the rock, making the whole ridge into a rock bridge. You can sit on top of the rock bridge and be far enough away from the city that everything is quiet. The wind comes up the face of the ridge and makes all the tiny branches of the trees rise together like they are raising their arms. It’s beautiful.
3) Out of the changes you’ve made in your life to follow God’s call to creation care, what has been the most life-giving, community-enhancing, or faith-strengthening?
This might sound like a small change, but composting. For some reason I find it incredibly wonderful that you can put your food scraps into a pile and they turn into fertile soil. It makes me feel tied into the earth. It makes me thank the Lord that he made a world that recycles itself. The practice of composting has brought my friends together, too. Since starting my own compost bin, I’ve built three or four with friends and those have been fun Saturdays together. We sketch out a plan, go to the lumber store, do some work with our hands hammering the thing together in the back yard, then walk through the woods looking for things to get the pile started. All the while we talk and laugh and share that intangible, wonderful thing called community.
4) What is your guilty environmental indulgence?
When she was interviewed here, Gretchen Peck said hot showers, and I thought, “Yep…that’s me too. Guilty.”
5) What would you recommend as a first step in starting a lifestyle of creation care?
I’m an ideas guy so for me it started with lectures, books, and good conversations with friends about the reality of the Lord’s goodness in creation. But so far as learning how to enjoy the earth there’s no substitute for just going out in the woods and looking.
Briefly Noted: In Print and On the Screen
The following is a partial list of new or forthcoming books and movies that address issues related to environmental stewardship. We offer this list as a resource for our readers, but please be aware that we may not have read or viewed these titles, so we can’t vouch for the content. If you investigate these resources, let us know what you think! (We may be able to publish your review so that others can benefit.) For a fuller critique of current art and media, please visit the Reviews section of Flourish magazine.
The View from Lazy Point: A Natural Year in an Unnatural World
By Carl Safina
Ecologist and marine conservationist Carl Safina takes readers through a year at his home on the Long Island Sound, exploring some oft-neglected tragedies of ocean life with sensitivity and hope.
What’s Mine is Yours: The Rise of Collaborative Consumption
By Rachel Botsman and Roo Rogers
Don’t buy it along: Turns out that learning how to share helps you do more than just get through Kindergarten. Rachel Botsman and Roo Rogers explain how it can also help create a healthier environment.
The Revenge of the Electric Car
Papercut Films | WestMidWest Productions
A follow up to the 2006 documentary, Who Killed the Electric Car, this film tracks the industry race to create the first viable electric car with characteristic sensationalism and irreverence.
Born to be Wild
Warner Bros. | IMAX Filmed Entertainment
This IMAX documentary traces the lives of orphaned elephants and orangutans and the human caretakers who rescue, raise, and eventually release them back into the wild. (Take a peek at the trailer to the right.)
Humans have adapted to live in earth’s most extreme environments, and this television series takes viewers to each one—oceans, deserts, the arctic, jungles, mountains, grasslands, rivers, and cities—to see how nature and humanity co-exist against the odds.
The Warriors of Quigang: A Chinese Villages Fights Back
Yale Environment 360
Nominated for a 2011 Academy Award for Best Documentary (Short Subject), this documentary on a David-and-Goliath struggle between a Chinese village and an industrial polluters is available, in full, online.
Sun Come Up
Big Red Barn Films
Another 2011 Oscar nominee in the Short Subject category, this documentary follows the Carteret people of a remote island chain in the South Pacific as they seek out a new life away from the rising waters that threaten their homeland and culture.
The Texas Transportation Institute at Texas A&M University released its 2010 Annual Urban Mobility Report evaluating the multi-faceted costs of commuting to work by car in the United States. Among its conclusions was the discovery that on average commuters wasted—by sitting in congested traffic—$808 dollars in 2009. In contrast, public transportation saved commuters 785 million hours and 640 million gallons of fuel in that same year.
Source: 2010 Annual Urban Mobility Report
- February 2, 2011 marked Renewal’s International Day of Prayer for Creation. The 2011 theme for the Day of Prayer was Environmental Justice, and at least 20 groups from around the country and the world participated in praying for issues such as the detrimental effects of copper mining in the Philippines, the pollution of the Delray neighborhood of Detroit, Michigan, and the environmental health effects of oil drilling in Ecuador.
- ECHO (Educational Concerns for Hunger Organization) will hold its 20th Annual Farm Day on March 19. The ECHO campus in Ft. Myers, Florida, boasts a global experimental farm, where plants are grown and aid and missions workers are trained to provide the global poor with innovative and sustainable plant-based options for food and agriculture. The Farm Day visitors will receive guided tours of the global farm, taste-test foods raised on the campus, and participate in hands-on growing and crafting demonstrations.
- The Salvation Army holds its “A Call for Imaginative Faith: A Mission and Environment Conference” from February 25-28 in Orlando, Florida. Speakers include Flourish’s Jonathan Merritt, Matthew and Nancy Sleeth of Blessed Earth, the Rev. Mitchell Hescox of the Evangelical Environmental Network, and Tom Rowley of A Rocha USA.
- The National Day for Unplugging is March 4. Folks at the Sabbath Manifesto are encouraging participants to take a 24-hour break from electronic devices and get involved with local volunteer opportunities, instead.
“Above all we must replace self-interest and greed with the biblical teaching on self-sacrifice and generous giving as the marks of true discipleship to Christ. We affirm Lausanne’s historic call for simpler lifestyles.”
- From the “Calling the Church of Christ back to humility, integrity, and simplicity” section from Part II of the Cape Town Commitment made at the Third Lausanne Congress on World Evangelization in Cape Town, South Africa this past October.