Saturday, May 31, 2008

be the change you want to see in the world

So a while ago, I read this book called "Serve God, Save the Planet," an environmental call-to-arms for Christians. It was written by a doctor named Matthew Sleeth, who after buying his giganto dream home with his family, decided that they were moving in the wrong direction and downsized drastically, moving to a radically smaller house, installing solar panels and the like, and cutting their consumption by a ton.
In a lot of ways, the book was great. Sadly, a lot of Christians need to be convinced of the disaster we're heading into. That's what the book tries to accomplish.
Unfortunately, it didn't talk about the main reason I wanted to read it:
How the heck did Dr. Sleeth do it? Not just change his own mind, but bring his two teenagers along for the ride? How did they all give up things that all of us have come to depend on, like driving everyplace? What was the sequence they did things in? What hurt most? What was the hardest shift? How much of a pain was solar paneling?
I was very, very disappointed that he didn't share any of those things.

Dyami and I have been doing some down-shifting of our own over the last year, some of it successful, and some of it--not so. But it occurs to me that it might be helpful toshare some of it here. I can be kind of a know-it-all sometimes, and a little holier-than-thou, so I kind of hesitated to share this stuff. In my family, when we get excited about subjects, we go whole-hog and kind of scare people. This happens to me a lot. But at the same time, I'm convinced that we all need to make these kinds of changes, and they are hard changes to make. Many of them (like carpooling, say, or buying fewer gifts for each other) require us to involve other people. So if I hid the bit of light I'm trying to create under a bushel, what good does that do anyone?
So here are my stabs at trying to go green. Many of them are drops in the bucket (the real biggies, like driving less and using solar power, we have not really attempted to do much of), but they're something. And you know what, they are changing my mindset, which is kind of the big first step, no?
I'm going to put them in rough order, and blog about them over the next week or two. I invite you, dear reader, to submit, in comment form, other ideas you've had, or great changes you've made. Give us more ideas!


Kim said...

yippee! I concur! It was so fun to find your blog today. (that sneaky yet trusty facebook) I've been inspired by the book as well as many of our friends at church who formed an A Rocha group a couple years ago. Going about making little changes in our daily lives is always on my mind. Dr. Sleeth talked at our church in April and someone asked for his top recommendation. His answer - to take a sabbath, slow down and be in sync with the Lord. I really appreciated that response. In reading the book, I also liked the idea of making our home a mission field. That mindset and the term "environmental justice" which I've read elsewhere, thinking of the global impact of our choices on mainly the poorest of the poor, resonate with me and help challenge my habits.
I'll be looking forward to your posts. An exchange of ideas and accountability are key. They make the difficult changes [cringe] fun.

Dustin said...

Hi, my name is Dustin and I work with a Christian environmental organization called Christians in Conservation: A Rocha USA. I noticed that you mentioned Dr. Matthew Sleeth in your post, and while it's unfortunate that his book did not do more to address your questions, I thought that you still might like to know that our organization sponsors him as a "creation care evangelist." We would love for you to check us out at our website, You might also be interested the website for Dr. Sleeth's book "Serve God, Save the Planet," which can be found at