One of the reasons I started this blog was to make contact with other people who are thinking about the same questions and issues. I would very much welcome hearing from you. If you are a Christian who cares about God’s world, what has been your path? What struggles have you had? Is your church doing interesting things that show compassion and service for God’s Creation? Do you have ideas for topics for me to address? Good articles to pass along? And if you’re not a Christian I’d love to hear from you, too.
I invite you to contact me at wholefaithlivingearth (at) gmail.com.
More About Me
Every time I start writing this section there’s a strong gravity towards writing my life story which would be way too long and frightfully boring. So I’m going to short circuit that by sharing some key things you should know.
At the intersection of the Christian faith and the natural world: For close to two decades I’ve been engaged in exploring what the Christian ethic towards natural world should be. In response, I’ve been carefully reading the Bible and researching verses and wrestling with theology. I’ve been compulsively reading books about the topic and analyzing the arguments that have been justified a cruel dominion of God’s world that causes misery for people and the living things with which we shared God’s world. I’ve also been leading and organizing education programs and events at churches to explore these topics. All of this has generated many ideas and given me the opportunity to meet and learn about Christians who are caring for God’s world.
Working 9 to 5 (well, maybe longer than that) in conservation: Out of college and as an outgrowth of my interest in Japan, I worked for Mitsubishi International Corporation for seven years where, among other things, I helped manage the export of Winnebago motorhomes to Japan. While interesting on many levels, it wasn’t the right fit for me. During a period of transition that included being a stay-at-home father for the first two-years of my oldest son’s life, I found my direction. A combination of reading and volunteering for ecological restoration workdays in Chicago played key roles. This led to work as a grant writer and newsletter editor with Friends of the Chicago River, an urban river restoration group.
I then moved to the non-profit land conservation group Conserve Lake County where I was initially the director of development and later served as the associate director and interim executive directors. In 2014, I joined the Liberty Prairie Foundation as the program director for food, farms, and the environment in 2014. Through that role I’m working to advance land conservation and open space protection while also helping to build a resilient and sustainable food system in the Chicago region.
An eclectic faith journey: I grew up in the Christian faith, regularly attending church services at a Lutheran church in Chicago. After college, I’ve attended other Lutheran churches, a community church, a Mennonite church, and an Evangelical Covenant church. My faith has benefited from what I’ve learned and experienced at each of those churches. I am currently seeking a new church home for our family. My faith in Jesus has been a comfort and a challenge to me over the years. What I have found in my questions and struggles is comfort and strength and truth that works, that offers a fuller and richer life precisely because it is not all about me. What I have also found when I have become complacent and comfortable is that the Christian faith is also challenging. When I recently read through the Bible for the first time, I fully experienced the passionate and radical hunger for the kingdom of God that is found in the Bible. How we celebrate and live in God’s grace and forgiveness while also energetically pursuing God’s kingdom (even when that kingdom’s principles differs from that of the culture around us) is a fundamental question with which churches must always wrestle.
Blessed and rooted: My wife Mayumi and I have lived in the Prairie Crossing conservation community in Grayslake since 2004. It’s well worth visiting if you haven’t been here already to see how conservation practices can be integrated into a residential subdivision. We have three children – Alden, Owen, and Naya (who we adopted from Taiwan) – who are a delight but who sometimes question whether I love them more than the native plants I tend in the naturally landscaped portions of our yard.
Mayumi and I met in Madison, Wisconsin, through a series of unusual coincidences many moons ago. One of the many reasons, Mayumi made such a strong impression on me is her sensitivity to how animals and the natural world are treated, a commitment to eating in ways that are healthy and good for the world, and a desire for simplicity. She has never wavered in those convictions and has often been my conscience. An occupational therapist, she tends a beautiful organic garden from which we enjoy fruit and vegetables.
Living in a conservation community in a suburb of Chicago is a long way from the Logan Square neighborhood in Chicago where I grew up. Nature wasn’t bountiful but I remember being fascinated by squirrels, often reading Ranger Rick and a book about the oceans, and enjoying the animals my father kept at home during the summer between school sessions when he taught at a public elementary school. I still remember the time my mother went on strike from doing laundry to make the point that she wasn’t going down into the basement until an escaped garter snake was recovered.
Personal dreams: I want to share some of the dreams and ideas that have come to me during the long incubation period of his blog. In the realm of culture and art, I dream of writing at least one novel that integrates the themes present in this blog in a compelling and challenging way. I’d like to have the novel turned into a movie or even an animated film. I have always been intrigued by graphic storytelling so I’d like to partner to create a graphic novel for readers of all ages that links the themes of this blog with story and insight into the Christian faith and the Creation. Down the road I believe there would be great value in developing a documentary that profiles Christians and churches being thoughtful, effective stewards of the natural world.
In the world of the Christian community, I want to help Christians and congregations who are truly serious about caring for Creation take action for God’s world. What if every church played some sort of role in helping its community produce and have access to healthy, humanely-produced food and restore nature? I also dream of finding ways of channeling the resources of Christians and churches to leaders and organizations doing effective work in protecting and restoring the life of God’s earth who desperately need help. Because the way the Christian faith manifests itself can differ from place to place and because the conservation challenges our world faces also differ from place to place, I believe it would be extremely valuable to visit other countries and understand how a whole faith could bring about a living earth in those different circumstances. I’d then like to share those experiences and insights with the Church.