Let me be clear. You don’t need a new eco-friendly Bible to be a green Christian. Keeping that old tattered Bible you got when you were baptized or confirmed is still greener than purchasing one made with recycled paper. If your childhood Bible has completely fallen apart, there are millions of barely opened Bibles that end up lining the shelves of your local used bookstore. Another option, in an era when literature is available on iPods and mobile devices, is to download the Bible. I’m much more likely these days to use free online search engines to find a passage of scripture than to thumb through pages.
As a minister who is concerned that Christianity has become much too comfortable with consumerism, which is incompatible with the way of Jesus, I don’t advocate purchasing all the religious stuff that’s out there for gifts. Sadly, Bibles too are given makeovers everyday and marketed like everything else. The message from the industry is the same as the message about your toaster. “It’s outdated. You need a new one.” I have been given all kinds of Bibles over the years, dozens of them, and I’ve given them all away except a few. The only time I’ve ever bought one was for a college course. So, I found it a little ironic when I was asked to review a company’s latest attempt to push the most published book in history.
That said, I will definitely be purchasing The Green Bible, published by HarperOne, coming this October ($29.95). Their eco-friendly production process is a good step for the industry. They use soy-based inks, recycled paper, and a 100% cloth/linen cover. I would like to see the rest of HarperCollinsPublishers use the same printing methods for all products, rather than just one. While I’m creating a wish list, I’d also like to see the rest of the industry follow the lead of Harper and Thomas Nelson, whose eco-friendly Bible came out last fall.
But a greener printing process alone isn’t enough to make me shell out $29.95 when the one I have is just fine. If I really am concerned about living responsibly in an interconnected universe, having something I already have shipped to me all the way from the Amazon still doesn’t make much sense.
Oh wait, I think these things come from wherever Amazon.com is, not the actual Amazon. But, it’s still shipped from who-knows-where. I know the review materials came from San Francisco, along with some Ghirardelli chocolates. Thanks, by the way!
What is it about this product that is tempting enough for me to pre-order it on Amazon for $19.77?
There are resources in here collected from some of the most prophetic and influential voices from all assorted religious flavors, both ancient and contemporary. It is filled with essays from Archbishop Desmond Tutu, author and activist Brian McLaren, well-known preacher Barbara Brown Taylor, Pope John Paul II, Jewish environmentalist Ellen Bernstein, and Anglican Bishop of Durham and renowned New Testament scholar N.T. Wright, to name a few. It includes a poem from celebrated poet and conservationist Wendell Berry and a canticle from St. Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of ecology. (No joke. There really is an official patron saint of ecology.)
The Green Bible also includes:
- information on how to read the Bible through a green lens,
- a historical overview of Christian teachings on creation, from St. Augustine to C.S. Lewis,
- a Green Bible Trail study guide, pointing out six green themes throughout the scriptures,
- green text highlighting passages that speak to green issues,
- a green subject index,
- and even a resource guide with suggestions to help your congregation get more involved in the green movement and practical ways to make a difference in your daily life.
Real hard-copy Bibles are always going to make meaningful gifts for special occasions, even as people are buying less things in print. Maybe a hand-me-down is still the most significant and greenest Bible you can give someone. But The Green Bible too is worth buying. It is a great product packed full of voices, both ancient and contemporary, that will cultivate a sense of kinship with all things. This product is part of a larger effort to ignite the imaginations of people of faith in response to “the biggest problem facing the world” ( according to Matthew Sleeth in an essay included in The Green Bible). That’s more than enough good news to offset the purchase of yet another Bible for my collection.