Book Review: Gardening Eden by Michael Abbate

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One of the topics I think about when I have a spare moment is my responsibility to care for our temporary home, the earth. I haven’t always thought about this, but it’s something I’ve considered more and more.

Reading Gardening Eden: How Creation Care Will Change Your Faith, Your Life, and Our World by Michael Abatté goes right along with these thoughts. Abatté is an architecture and design professional who has made a living helping companies consider environment concerns when developing or remodeling their facilities. Oh, and he’s a evangelical Christian.

Sadly, evangelicals have let others lead the way for caring for creation. I refuse to be among those who will put consumerism, Americanism, and selfishness above care for God’s gift (the earth) and my neighbors (even those unborn).

Abatté provides a defense for creation care in the first half of the book (a concept he calls gardening, in deference to God’s command to Adam), but what I found most encouraging and helpful were the 50 practical tips towards being a better gardener. Some of them, of course, you’ve heard before. But until we really start doing them, we need to keep hearing them. The author does a good job walking you through the how and why, which makes the list of tips extra valuable. Here are a few  that stood out to me:

# 8 – Eat Less – our bodies are part of the creation, so this rightly falls under creation care. He also has several more tips about what we should be eating.

# 16 – Turn the thermostat down – I find our blind addiction to climate control alarming. Humans have lived for millenia at temperatures other than 72…surely we can too. I’ve already told you how I handled that this summer. I do use my heat more than I do my A/C…but I have found I can still thrive at 63 degrees (with blankets and a light jacket) while awake and down to 55 degrees while sleeping or away. Again, I live alone so not everyone can go this extreme (though some may be able to go farther!), but most of us can make a difference by just pushing the thermostat down a degree or two beyond what we previously thought was necessary.

# 25 – Walk – This is already something I’ve been thinking about. I’m sad that I don’t live in an area where more things are within walking distance…but some things are. Instead of rushing to the gym to spend an hour on the treadmill, why don’t we save the stress and spend the extra time to walk to our destination? Yes, I’ll still take the time to go to the pool, but I’m seeking to work more walking (and less driving!) into my life.

# 31 – Give Away Your Money – I must admit I’ve never considered this to be a creation care tactic. But Abatté makes a great point: the more money you give away, the less money you have to spend. I know I spend too much and have been thinking about how I can get by with less. The bonus of this tip is that it’s helping others passively (by not filling your house and landfill with items that caused pollution to create) and actively (your money being put to good works).

# 35 – Don’t Buy Bottled Water – Bottled water makes me cringe. I’ve never really liked the taste, but now I recognize that it’s such an incredible waste. With some planning, you can pretty much eliminate any situation you might have previously bought bottled water for. Airport traveling? Carry an empty reusable water bottle with you through security. Don’t like the tap water taste? Invest in a water purifier or better yet, suck it up and realize that your tap water, no matter how bad, is still better than what most the world drinks. “Do you think we would drink as much bottle water if we knew that it is less regulated than tap water, with fewer quality control measures, required tests, and disclosures?” (p. 211-212)

I highly recommend this book. It’s definitely one that will have me thinking for a while, and I hope it will do that for you, too.

2 thoughts on “Book Review: Gardening Eden by Michael Abbate

  1. Sounds like a good book. I read one on being good stewards of creation a while ago, but kind of let the ideas slip to the back of my mind. I love that it has actual practical steps, too.

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