Earlier this month, we hosted the 4th annual Stanley Grenz Lecture Series, featuring Dr. Steven Bouma-Prediger, a professor and prolific author in the realms of theology, ecology, and environmental studies. Dr. Bouma-Prediger is Professor of Religion, Director of the Environmental Studies program, and Associate Dean for Teaching and Learning at Hope College in Michigan. He has written more than 100 articles, essays, and reviews, and his book publications include The Greening of Theology, For the Beauty of the Earth, and Beyond Homelessness: Christian Faith in a Culture of Displacement.
The series included a free lecture, “The Ecological Crisis and the Defilement of Home,” which you can watch in its entirety here, followed the next day by an informal “brown bag lunch,” which we are sharing in its entirety below. This conversation engages the biblical vision of shalom and how it might enable us to cut through our ecological deafness, ignorance, indifference, and denial. “If yesterday was a diagnosis of ecological homelessness, today will be my attempt to provide a prescription for what ails us.”
“In God’s kingdom of shalom, there is no place for ethnocentrism or racism. As Luke makes clear, this is precisely the kind of kingdom Jesus comes to inaugurate. If there is to be a realization of the prophetic vision of a kingdom of shalom, then this will be a kingdom as wide as creation, suffused with the most radical hospitality.”
Dr. Bouma-Prediger pulls from the biblical text to call us to join God’s work of restoring the very fabric of creation. He proposes an understanding of virtue that is formed by narrative, thus forcing us to confront the various stories we hear and tell about ourselves and our world, as well as an understanding of peace as not just an absence of conflict but as right relationship with God, with oneself, with other people, and with our non-human neighbors.
“Shalom is the flourishing of all things created, the reconciliation of all things estranged, and the consummation of all things incomplete. It is heaven on earth. […] We followers of Jesus are called to be aching visionaries. Inspired by God’s vision of shalom, and mindful of how far the world is from realizing that vision, we yearn for a realm of peace, justice, compassion, and wisdom.”