Wheatmark, 2009, 228 pp
Reviewed by Sky McCain
The overall theme and objective of this book is to illustrate that Jesus of Nazareth was green. Grabill shows, from a study of biblical translations direct from the Aramaic and quotations from texts long ago eliminated from the bible by church politicians, that Jesus would probably be at the forefront of the green movement were he alive and teaching today.
The author has utilized his professional historian skills coupled with seven trips to the Holy Land to pull together facts and examples showing the profound earthiness revealed in the life of Jesus. After all, Jesus lived a simple, very small footprint lifestyle with frequent isolated periods spent in the wilderness in prayer and meditation. There is considerable evidence to support claims that he loved Nature. In the first section of the book, Grabill holds an imaginary interview with Jesus as a way of describing his early life in Judea and his relationship with Mary Magdalene. I would like to have heard more about Mary Magdalene since there are various texts that confirm her importance in the life of Jesus and she most likely would have been chosen over Peter had she not been female.
I was very pleasantly surprised with many aspects of the book. It is extremely easy to read, plainly written, with an especially flowing style. There are humorous anecdotes gleaned from children’s impressions of the bible such as (quoted from Hample and Marshall’s Children’s Letters to God): “Our Father who does art in heaven. Harold is his name.”
Grabill weaves into the text his own impressions of the natural world from his home along the southern shores of Lake Superior. Yet he never strays far from the main objective of his writing, which is to demonstrate the green consciousness of Jesus.
The book is quite solidly structured yet avoids rigidity and repetitiveness. Each of eleven chapters follows a similar path with an introductory statement about how Jesus expressed sustainable living. For example, in the first chapter we find: ‘Would Jesus drive a Hummer?’ Then an aspect of sustainability is discussed. Following that is a principle or green theme. The next few paragraphs focus on practice and here we find interesting ways that people have found to downsize and to re-evaluate their environmental footprint. In this part of each chapter I was repeatedly surprised by the amazing things some people are doing to honour Gaia. Each chapter ends with a discussion about how our attitudes and feelings toward the environment sometimes get in the way of our efforts to be greener.
The book’s supplementary material is extremely extensive and helpful. There are summaries of quotes from the sayings of Jesus, citing their origin, and summaries of green principles and practices. There is an Aramaic glossary, with a collection of phrases, and a well developed guide for conducting group discussions.
No matter how much you already know about the life of Jesus, I think you’ll find much of interest in Green Kingdom Come!