Green Jesus

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Dave Bookless – Ecologist


Revd. Dave Bookless is National Director of A Rocha UK, and an Anglican Priest. He and his family live in multiracial Southall, and he enjoys Bollywood movies, saag paneer, remote islands, Bradford City FC, bird-watching, and time with his wife and daughters.

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 Dave Bookless – Ecologist

How was Jesus in touch with the natural world?

Jesus grew up as a craftsman - a carpenter’s stepson – in a small middle-eastern town, and he no doubt became skilled in handling the natural grain of wood. He would have lived closed to nature, depending on natural resources, and seeing the changing of the seasons, the rhythms of nature as part of God’s care for the world.

What do you think was green about what Jesus said and did?

When Jesus taught people about God, his stories (parables) were full of nature – foxes, flowers and birds; fig trees, sowing and harvests.  He clearly saw the natural world as a key way into understanding the nature of God, urging people to study flowers and birds, in order to know better their place in creation.  Jesus also went further.  He showed that he had unique power over nature, by healing broken bodies, and even by calming the forces of a major storm on Lake Galilee by speaking to the wind and the waves.  Christians believe that this is because Jesus existed before the world was made, and in fact that God made everything that exists ‘by him and for him’ (Colossians 1.16)  - so for Christians Jesus is the reason why caring for the environment is important.  The greenest thing Jesus did, strange as it seems, was dying on the cross, because through this he made it possible for all that is spoiled and messed up in this world – people and the planet itself – to be restored and renewed.

How concerned are you about the state of Planet Earth
(on a scale of 1-10 where 1 = not worried at all! and 10 = extremely concerned)?

In terms of the scientific evidence on how human behaviour is damaging the planet, 10 – extremely concerned. However, my faith in Jesus gives me hope that God is committed to his world, and that working to ‘save the planet’ is not a hopeless cause.

What practical things do you do to help the environment?

This has been a long journey for me and my family … and we haven’t arrived yet!  Through A Rocha I’ve moved from being a full-time church minister, to working full-time for an environmental charity and helping run a church part-time.  We’ve set up a simple lifestyle commitment through which we and many others seek to take on a further eco-commitment every three months. Living in urban London, we grow much of our own food on an allotment, and what we buy we try and make LOAF (Local, Organic, Animal-friendly & Fairly-traded). We cycle, walk, use public transport, and offset any polluting travel through a scheme called Climate Stewards.  We also try to enjoy the wonder and beauty of the natural world – I love nothing more than a walk down by the canal away from the traffic, with my binoculars around my neck, praying as I go!

If you were a plant, what plant would you be? And why?

As I grew up in India, I’d love to be a Banyan tree – they live to a great age, and develop multiple trunks. They also provide shade and food for lots of other creatures to make their home in!

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About this module

We asked a number of Christians in different professions some questions about Jesus’ green credentials and how they follow Jesus today, in the light of environmental impact, climate change and all issues green.

We also asked them what plant they’d be, hence the images to the left.

We would still like to hear from a: Walker, Flower Arranger, Organic Restaurateur, Farmer, Vet, Architect, Travel Agent and any other relevant professionals. Contact one of the editors if you’re interested.

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Module contents

arrow Introduction and index

arrow Evan Cockshaw – Astrophysicist

arrow Richard Chartres – Bishop

arrow Dave Bookless – Ecologist

arrow Chris Sunderland – Theologian

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