Eco-Justice Ministries
   Eco-Justice: "the well-being of all humankind on a thriving Earth"
 

Eco-Curriculum Review for the title
One God, One Family, One Earth: Responding to the Gifts of God's Creation

This is the full report format.

Short Description:   A six-session course designed by The Episcopal Church USA which explores the spiritual dimensions of the environmental crisis.
Long Description:   Curriculum is designed to impress upon parishes the nature and priority of the environmental crisis, why the issues are moral ones, how it is consistent with scripture and church tradition and to encourage individual members to become active in remedial activities.

The content proceeds as follows:

One God (Think Globally): Session 1: This Fracile Earth, Our Island Home and Session 2: Godīs Holy Mountain

One Family (Act Locally): Session 3: Our Call To Return and Session 4:A Right Spirit

One Earth (Commit Individuallly): Session 5: Created in the Image of God and Session 6: The Power at Work Within Us

Reviewed by:   David Owens, an Episcopal layman from Alabama

Bibliographic & Purchasing Information
Author:   The Rev. Eleanor R. Hill, The Rev. Alfred E. Persons and Jean M. Goodson (Project Team) and Ms. Susan Fisher, Dr. Peggy Welch, and The Rev. Carla V. Berkedal (Environmental Stewardship Team)
Publisher:   Episcopal
Publication date:   1994 Website for this resource:   none known
We know of 1 source for purchasing this resource.
Address Environmental Justice Resources
National Council of the Churches of Christ
PO Box 968
Elkhart, IN   46515-0968  
Phone 800-762-0968   219-264-3102 Fax 219-262-0966  
Website www.nccecojustice.org/printedresources.htm E-mail    
Price $15.00  Order # EJ 8915 

Target Audience & Course Sessions
Age levels Preschool    Primary    Jr. High     Sr. High     Adult
The reviewer specifies:   Adult with suggestion that teenagers be invited.
NOTE: Our reviewer may have checked a wider age range than specified in the curriculum itself.
Optimum class size Maximum class size of 16 
Normal number/length of sessions If the curriculum's normal lesson plan is followed, there will be 6 class sessions each lasting about 1 hour
Are suggestions included for expanding/contracting the series? The matterials suggest that longer sessions will enhance the depth and quality of the experience.  
In the judgement of the reviewer:
 it is not reasonable to plan for a single, self-contained class session from these materials.
 using these materials, a class can be offered that runs for at least two sessions.
Are learners expected to do homework? Read reflection papers (provided) for each session and bring various news clips on pertinent issues for construction of a collage or poster.  
Target audience:
 Interfaith - addressed people of many faiths
 Judeo-Christian - addressed to Jews & Christians
 Christian - addressed explicitly to Christians
 Not explicity faith-based - not much religious content
Note: In the opinion of the reviewer, meaningful use of this curriculum is largely confined to members of the denomination or agency that developed it , Episcopal Church USA .
For example, it may explore a denominational policy statement.

Materials provided
Materials include:
 Leader's guide
 Student book
 Discussion questions
 Class activities - arts & crafts
 Class activities - group participation 
 Video
 Reading materials
 Presentation or lecture notes
 Prayer or worship resources
 

Other supportive materials provided: Music cassette with wildlife calls inserted
Other materials required:Newsprint and Easel; Poster Board; Tape Player; Table for Display; Name Tags; News Clips & Pictures that students bring for collage; Pens; Sign in Sheet
Description of the Leader's Guide:The leaderís guide is well done and very detailed providing every step including when to turn the tape player on and off. All sessions have purpose stated boldly, contain opening and closing prayer and some contain responsive readings.
Description of the Student's Book:Well done. The participantís guide has some excellent papers for reflection, has a cover sheet for each session with title, purpose, opening prayer, closing prayer and assignment. It has pages for note taking and has an good appendix and resource section.

Materials review & Assessment of usability
Are all necessary materials provided in an accessible format? Yes - materials are very well laid out and comprehensive  
Is the leader's guide comprehensive? Yes - materials are very well laid out and comprehensive  
Are class sessions clearly outlined? Yes - materials are very well laid out and comprehensive  
Will it be helpful to have a teacher with above-average expertise in the subject matter? Definitely helpful to have teacher expertise  
Preparation time required by the leader:
Subjectively rated as heavy, medium or light
Medium - About 2 hours per session. Most devoted to content mastery as the methods are set forth in great detail. Itís a matter of adjusting them to oneís individual style. 

Content focus
Is this curriculum explicitly focused on environmental awareness or action? Yes, as a primary focus  
Does this curriculum deal with a specific environmental issue or problem? No - Macro Approach, but students are asked to bring in illustrations of pertinent concerns for collage  
How is the scope of the environmental impact positioned?  Impact on specific human communities
 Impact on humans in general
 Impact on humans and non-human parts of creation
 Impact on non-human parts of creation only  
Does the curriculum address questions of social or economic justice in relation to environmental issues? Yes - as a major theme  
Does the curriculum provide detailed content in a particular academic area?   For example, is there significant content in biology, physics, sociology, economics, etc.?
Biblical & theological content are covered below
Comments: No, the intent is to get students acquainted with the nature of the crisis. Some of the reflection papers have some specifics for illustration, but this is incidental to the focus.  
Biblical/theological content
Does the curriculum have explicit biblical or theological content? Yes, as a major emphasis  
How are the Biblical materials used? Individual texts are presented as meaningful ('proof texts')
Several texts are developed to show a larger biblical theme
Texts are placed in a historical or cultural context
Texts are presented as authoritative
Students are invited to comment/reflect on the meaning or authority of texts
Biblical texts are of equal importance to other scriptures/readings  
The checked statements reflect how ethical guidelines are grounded The Bible tells us how we should live/act
A theological tradition or other authority tells us how we should live/act
We should make decisions about how to live/act based on defined ethical norms
Caring for creation is an assumed norm  
The curriculum views humanity's role in creation as:
The checked lines are clearly affirmed
Domination - God created the Earth for human use; there are no real restrictions on what we can or should do.
Stewardship - "The Earth is the Lord's"" and humans are in a position of managing the creation according to God's will.
Partner - Humans are part of the web of creation, and participate in it as one species among many.
Intruder - Humans are separate from nature, and inherently destructive.
In evaluating changes to "solve" environmental problems, does the curriculum tend toward an approach that is: Confessional - I/we need to change
Confrontational - Some other person, policy or institutions needs to change
Combination - a mix of confessional and confrontational

Content approach
Which of these are a primary target outcome of the curriculum?  Increase awareness or concern about the environment in general
 Increase awareness of concern about a specific environmental issue
 Acquiring factual knowledge about an issue
 Changing or deepening personal beliefs
 Change in self-awareness or self-identity
 Changes in personal behaviors or lifestyle choices
 Influence on institutional (church or other) practices
 Increased political advocacy
 No change, or goal not clear
Range of perspectives offered:   A single perspective is offered
  Compares 2 or more perspectives
  A diversity of perspectives presented

Subjective Reviewer Feedback
In general, would you use this program with your congregation/organization? Why or why not?
Yes, it was used in the church I attend. Our church is very conservative and this curriculum proved to be a safe introduction to the environmental crisis. I think the use of this curriculum would not be as effective with a congregation with a history of interest and a high level of sophistication in the subject matter.
What specific feedback do you have after reviewing these materials? What did you like? What did you not like?
It is very well organized and very traditional in approach. It assumes that the Bible, Book of Common Prayer and traditional theology are adequate to address the problems. This is an advantage for getting oneís foot in the door in a very conservative congregation, but I think if a church is serious it must eventually introduce some other perspectives for consideration (e.g. process theology, pantheism). To be fair to the authors, they do cite some other perspectives (Thomas Berry, the Geologian) in the resource section. Further, it is not within their purpose to challenge their own institution. They are a committee of the church with an assignment to respond to a solicitation by the Union of Concerned Scientists. They dutifully challenge members to commit to do a litany of activities (primarily individually conserving resources).
What questions did you have after reviewing the materials?
Last year when I attended a class using this material, I was surprised to learn of its existence. I have been in the Episcopal Church for 15 years and have never heard this subject addressed from the pulpit and was generally unaware of the national churchís work. The question in my mind is why this material has not had a larger impact. I am aware that individual churches throughout the country have developed an identity for creation care, but since the title of this material was the theme of the national convention in 1994 it puzzles me that it has been invisible in Alabama.
What, if any, concerns do you have about the use or implementation of this curriculum?
Again, the curriculum is good for a starter with a traditionally conservative membership. I would suggest that any church using it have a plan for phase two when they finish these 6 sessions. The curriculum has some good suggestions for such planning.
What content, if any, does this program seem to be missing? What would you like this program to cover which it does not?
I think one of the major problems for Christian churches including Episcopalians is that our tradition of theological exclusivity is not consistent with our need to work cooperatively with other peoples around the globe. This material infers the need for such respect and cooperation, but ignores this problem. Typically, we believe literally in the authority of the 4th gospel and the Nicene Creed that Jesus preexisted with God and was God and actually God created the universe through Jesus. Therefore if Jesus is the creator of the universe then all other avenues to God are wrong. That is the exclusivity to which I refer. I am aware that many Episcopal leaders, including the presiding Bishop, are not exclusivists, but in my experience most are. So, some content in this area would be helpful.

A second area is the traditional view that humans were created in the image of God, then there was original sin (Adam), after which all humans are born in a depraved state. Our material addresses ďin the image of GodĒ in the traditional way and does not mention original sin. It does consistently put emphasis on redemption through Christ. I donít think this point of view is consistent with the concept of inter-relatedness and interdependency of all life which seems to me essential underpinning for seriously addressing environmental concerns.

A third item is that the primary revelation of God to humankind is the Bible. Our curriculum acknowledges at various places the revelation of God through the earth, but on page 3 of leader guide contrasts Christian and Pagan beliefs and finds the revelation through the Bible to be primary over revelation through nature. This defies all logic and feeds the exclusivist notion mentioned earlier. I think it is necessary to integrate into our theology the concept that the universe itself is the primary revelation of God.

Fourthly, the material addresses the matter of stewardship and finds that humans are Godís agents on earth in charge of maintaining the earth per Godís intention. The material also mentions partnership with God and humans as co-creators, but primarily it is the first viewpoint that pervades the material. Certainly, we humans are the dominant species on the planet now so it may seem like a subtle difference to point out that if we believe that all life is inter-related then one species canít be Godís caretaker in relation to all other life. It strikes me that this is just a soft way of reaffirming the tradition of having dominion over the earth. It leaves us in the same soup of being Godís favorite species. Perhaps the larger problem is that we assume a special God-like status and in fact we are totally incapable of managing Godís creation. It seems to me a better concept is that we are a part of Godís creation and we need to study/discern our role in relation to other species and try to live accordingly. Despite the fact that we do not understand the processes in any ecosystem, we have learned enough to know that our welfare depends on the well-being of other parts of the system and thus we destroy the system at our own peril.

I will mention one other item and that is the emphasis on poverty, racism, sexismÖ Of course these issues are interrelated with the environmental problems, but I think we need to maintain focus on the environment and address these only as related issues. We have a long tradition of addressing these problems and we run the danger of doing what we know how to do rather than plowing some new ground.

Have you ever used this program in the past, or heard of others who have used it? What if any response was received?
Yes, a laywoman used this material to lead a class at our church last year very successfully. I had not seen the leader guide before, but can see now that she faithfully used the suggested methods with the content provided. The class was attended by about 15 regulars for the six sessions. Several of the members of the class were prominent leaders in the church which has about 400 regularly attending.


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