A unique ecotheology textbook was launched at United Theological College (UTC) on Thursday, 14 March.
Aimed at Indian pastors, Cross-cultural Eco-theology in an Indian Ocean Context was edited by Rev. Dr David Reichardt. The book is a collaboration between Australian and Indian theologians and others. Many of its chapters are co-written by authors from both nations.
Speaking at the event, Dr Clive Pearson said that ecotheology was something that had “arrived late.”
As a subject matter, it had previously been linked with ethics rather than doctrine.
Dr Pearson paid tribute to Rev. Dr Reichardt’s determination, noting that the book had been a challenge because of, “The simple practicality of getting people together across continents.”
“David deserves a bouquet,” he said.
He said they were writing for “a different kind of audience.”
Every meeting had “a kind of lament…that we were writing in a too complicated way.” The book was launched by past Uniting Church President Rev. Dr Dean Drayton, who wrote the book’s epilogue. He noted that, while the book is primarily for an Indian audience, it would be useful for many beyond India.
“The rubbish of the west becomes problems for everywhere else,” Rev. Dr Drayton said.
“For so long, our relationship with God has been, ‘Are my sins forgiven?’ So that the world becomes the background, the stage on which this has happened.”
Rev. Dr Drayton pointed to Jesus’ teachings as often evoking nature in order to make points, a reality that Christians had become disconnected from.
“Jesus is one who could not speak without speaking of the flowers.”
“It was addressing how we live as communities before God.”
Rev. Dr Reichardt said that the book evolved from one by a single Australian author “with a German surname” to one that had many authors, Australian and Indian.
He said it had been important to get women on board as writers.
“This process…as far as I’m aware, was unique,” Rev. Dr Reichardt said.
“It has been difficult and did require persistence but it’s been wonderful.”
The book is currently available online and through Rev. Dr Reichardt. It will be available soon at United Theological College.
Jonathan Foye is Insights’ Editor