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

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Eco-Curriculum Review for the title
At One with Creation

This is the full report format.

Short Description:   12 minute video with study guide; Jr High - Adult The video is designed to introduce a Christian perspective on environmental responsibility to a range of ages and audiences. The accompanying guidebooklet is intended to by used by both leaders and viewers.
Long Description:   The 12-minute animated video presents the creation story from Genesis and contrasting perspectives drawn from common perceptions of modern scientific theory, as well as the current condition of creation and simple means to address the condition. The 35-page booklet presents an introduction, information for a worship setting (including litany, songs [sheet music], and benediction), topics for reflection and discussion, activities and suggestions, and a resource guide.
Reviewed by:   Jim Doenges, a Disciples of Christ layman from Colorado

Bibliographic & Purchasing Information
Author:   Richard Cartwright Austin Presbyterian Church (USA), Congregational Ministries Division
Publication date:   1993 Website for this resource:   none known
We know of 1 source for purchasing this resource.
Address Presbyterian Distribution Service
Presbyterian Church (USA)
100 Witherspoon St.
Louisville, KY   40202-1396  
Phone 800-524-2612   Fax  
Website www.pcusa.org/marketplace/index.jsp E-mail    
Price $12.95  Order # 22793200 - C015 

Target Audience & Course Sessions
Age levels Preschool     Primary     Jr. High     Sr. High     Adult
NOTE: Our reviewer may have checked a wider age range than specified in the curriculum itself.
Optimum class size 1 to 20 or more. The video and booklet can be used by an individual, small groups, groups of 20 or more, or incorporated into worship services  
Normal number/length of sessions If the curriculum's normal lesson plan is followed, there will be 1 - 5 class sessions
Are suggestions included for expanding/contracting the series? 12 minutes (video only) to 2 hours (if all 4 suggested activities are done) Suggestions for expansion include incorporating the video into a worship service (litany, songs, and benediction are included) and 4 suggested activities.  
In the judgement of the reviewer:
 using these materials, or even just one session from them, a reasonable, coherent and self-contained class can be offered in a single session of about an hour.
 using these materials, a class can be offered that runs for at least two sessions.
Are learners expected to do homework? N/a  
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: The reviewer says that this curriculum is especially appropriate for members of the denomination or agency that developed it (Presbyterian Church (USA)). For example, it may explore a denominational policy statement. The reviewer also believes that it is possible for groups outside that tradition to make good use these materials.

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: one booklet is provided that serves as both leader’s guide and student’s book.
Other materials required:TV, VCR, blackboard and chalk or large pieces of paper and marker, pencil and paper, name tags, and large spools of yarn or kite string.
Description of the Leader's Guide:No leader’s guide is provided (the booklet which can be used by a leader is described in ‘Long Description’).
Description of the Student's Book:No student materials are provided (the booklet which can be used by a student is described in ‘Long Description’).

Materials review & Assessment of usability
Are all necessary materials provided in an accessible format? Adequate - all necessary information is present  
Is the leader's guide comprehensive? No - the resources are not adequate for a basic teacher  
Are class sessions clearly outlined? No - the resources are not adequate for a basic teacher  
Will it be helpful to have a teacher with above-average expertise in the subject matter? Helpful to have teacher expertise  
Preparation time required by the leader:
Subjectively rated as heavy, medium or light
Only light preparation would be needed; a leader could present this with less than an hour of preparation, or none at all. This a brief, cursory presentation of the subject matter. 

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  
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? No  
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
The curriculum does not provide detailed content in any acedemic, Biblical, or theological area. The presentation is minimally technical.  
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 reviewer did not answer this question.  
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?
No, I would not use this program with my congregation or ministry. Reasons follow in boxes below.
What specific feedback do you have after reviewing these materials? What did you like? What did you not like?
I liked that the materials explicitly focused on environmental awareness and action, and included the impacts to both humans and non-human parts of creation, and did so for the Judeo-Christian audience. I like the explicit recognition of the incredible creativity of God and the exercise demonstrating the web of life (using a ball of yarn of kite string.) I also like the wonderful voice of Barbara Jordan, who read the Scripture in the video.

I did not like the way the materials treat the subject matter – with superficiality, poor Biblical exegesis, lack of ecological understanding, and anthropocentrism.

What questions did you have after reviewing the materials?
How much time and resources were wasted producing these curriculum materials?
What, if any, concerns do you have about the use or implementation of this curriculum?
I have the following concerns about the use of this curriculum:
  1. The curriculum is too superficial, too short, and lacks clarity and depth.
  2. While some Bible verses are included, there is only a very small sample of what the Bible contains regarding environmental stewardship. What is presented, is often not put in a meaningful or accurate historical context. (See also numbers 3, 4, and 6.)
  3. The interpretation of some verses appears questionable. For example, after the 7-day creation story from Genesis, and verses from Exodus 20 and 23 are presented, the booklet states that the writers of Genesis framed the creation within 7 days to honor the work week, “so we have time to notice and enjoy one another” and the video states that the Bible “set the creation story to the familiar rhythms of the work week.” The meaning of the number 7 to represent completeness or wholeness is not mentioned, nor is the command for creation to have its Sabbath.
  4. There is an underlying theme that “nature” is not synonymous with creation; use of the term “nature” occasionally implies a subtle pantheism. For example, referring to Gen. 1:11, the booklet states that God did His creative work with assistance, that He asked the earth to help Him. The booklet suggest that “there is something special about the whole of created life that is more special than people.”
  5. The video and booklet depict a poor understanding of ecology and natural history, and at times within anthropocentric expressions. For example, plants and algae are described as “creatures” and an exercise meant to depict the interconnectedness of ecology states that sunlight is necessary for a bird egg to survive and depicts “grandparent birds” as among the items that “nurture and assure life for the egg.” The booklet states that “the whole ecosystem cries out ‘love one another.’” This curriculum is meant for adults and youth.
  6. Inconsistent comparison and contrast between “modern science” and Biblical Scripture. For example, the curriculum states that Genesis is hard to take “seriously and still respect modern science,” yet interprets Isaiah 11:6 literally, stating that it “suggests that Jesus might heal divisions between species.” The video also states that after the creation of the earth, “the water and are were clean;” however, modern science tells us that the early atmosphere would have been very toxic to humans, and had very little oxygen.
  7. With only 12 minutes of video time and very little print space to treat a wide subject with broad strokes, the presentation of the importance of a vegetarian diet appears misplaced and to state that “there appears to be disagreement among Biblical writers” concerning whether or not we should eat meat is a bit disingenuous.
What content, if any, does this program seem to be missing? What would you like this program to cover which it does not?
This program lacks depth. It is missing an understanding of ecology, biology, and astronomy, as well as any coherent or consistent Biblical exegesis. This program also scarcely taps the Biblical foundation and mandates for creation care, makes no mention of the rich tradition and history of environmental stewardship within Christianity, and makes only a superficial stab at actions individuals can take.
Have you ever used this program in the past, or heard of others who have used it? What if any response was received?
I have never used this program, nor have I heard of this program being used.


Eco-Justice Ministries   *   400 S Williams St, Denver, CO   80209   *   Home Page: www.eco-justice.org
Eco-Justice Ministries ended all programming on July 31, 2020. This site is an archive of writings and resources.
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