Behold the Earth is a feature-length musical documentary that inquires into America's divorce from nature, built out of conversations with leading biologists and evangelical Christians, and directed by David Conover. Filmmakers' blog is below.
We have chosen to speak with leaders in the evangelical Christian community because many of these people of faith are seeing that the care of creation is perhaps the most urgent and necessary expression of their belief and their community life. Historically, the community has also been one of the most popular and influential forces shaping American identity. They continue to be so. From the complete number of posts on this website, we have selected the posts likely to be of most direct interest to evangelical Christians and listed them below. A collection of all posts can be found at Behold the Earth.
Came across the following by environmental journalist Paul Voosen this morning.
“Historically, the push behind conservation has been a love of nature,” said Wiens, the former conservancy scientist. “Translated, there’s a sort of religious underpinning to that. It’s our moral obligation to protect all living creatures. And it’s still a strong feeling in the movement, that everything is important.”
A decade ago, though, the Nature Conservancy saw this love of nature fading. Young, mostly city-dwelling Americans don’t go hunting, fishing or camping as they did in the past. Between 2004 and 2009, the group saw a 10-point drop in self-identified environmentalists.”
Our timelapse and landscape talent Eleanor is also a history buff. She made some observations about the stonewalls that we found in South Hope with the last timelapse we shot. Building stonewalls are experiences of Americana, of who we are and where we came from, in the big picture of the stone and wood we’ve literally held in our hands over the years. E.O. Wilson differentiates the living creation from the non-living creation. With this lead, my interests in this filmic inquiry are primarily with the living. But the American divorce from nature runs deeper than that.
FROM ELEANOR: “Rarely in need of replacement, constructing stone walls were massive undertakings. This is one reason why they are so familiar in the earliest settled regions of the country, like South Hope Maine, where the frontier mentality had yet to take hold: unlike their children and grandchildren, these farmers expected to spend their entire lives on a single plot of land. A worker could lay between twenty four and sixty four feet of wall per day, assuming that the stones, or “fieldstones,” as they were called, had already been transported to the building site.
Historian John Stilgoe notes that wooden fences, which became the popular barrier among farmers outside of the northeastern US, were replaced every fifteen to thirty years. When in the early nineteenth century, depleted woodlots triggered a timber shortage, it was the stone wall laying farmers that had enough wood to keep their fires burning. Of course, it was also these northernmost people who, hibernating from frigid temperatures, were most in need of firewood.”
For more information on the life and times of stonewalls, see: Robert Thorson, Stone by Stone: The Magnificent History in New England’s Stone Walls (Walker & Company, 2004).
John R. Stilgoe, Common Landscape of America, 1580-1845 (Yale University Press, 1983).
A rich opportunity…the Ark story, retold, thousands of years old, revisited as a base of dialogue among scientists and people of faith.
All of life sampled in one ship. One ship, with no apparent means of moving about. No sails. No engine. Only its own surface area, being pushed around by wind and water. All of life aboard, including humanity. Each trying to protect itself, carve out a niche. Some stronger than others. Some louder. Some more persistent. Others more patient. Some visible. Most not.
We focus on this ship. Why was it built? What runs it? Where has it come from? Where is it going? Can a steady course be steered long enough to avoid the common shoals ahead? Or is it there that we will rest, while the water recedes, life jumps ship, and we wait for the seas to rise again?
I will be screening clips and speaking about this work-in-progress BEHOLD THE EARTH on Sunday at 2:45pm, at the Baird Auditorium of the Smithsonian’s Museum of Natural History. Please come if you are in the Washington area this weekend and curious to learn what the production is all about.
The talk and screening is part of the US Environmental Film Festival, in its 18th year. For those of you who are enthusiasts for films about the people/nature connection, there are 155 diverse films screening between March 16th and 28th. Special programs exist for children and are marked by a family-friendly symbol in the festival program.