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Book Review: Reforesting Faith

I love trees.

I feel better around them. I pray better when I can see them. I’ve felt God’s thick but safe presence filling a forest full of them while hiking with my husband.

Enchantingly tall trees are a big reason I fell in love with the PNW, moving here from the Midwest at age 24.

But I didn’t realize how central trees are in Scripture. How vital they are to sustaining every life form on earth. How planting trees must be part of our response to poverty-stricken areas.

Reforesting Faith is written by a former atheist and chief of hospital medical staff who, after placing his trust in Christ, switched gears to direct the non-profit Blessed Earth and speak at various events on creation stewardship.

I’d been eyeballing this book for nearly a year, but kept feeling like there were other things I needed to study/read first. It’s a fairly short book, and I love Dr. Sleeth’s writing style. Direct and informative without being dry, he deftly uncovers all the ways that trees are God’s metaphor of choice in Scripture and in creation, and why. Want an example?

“One of the most important reasons God chose trees is because at every stage of their lives, trees give.”

“No other part of this planet’s ecosystem has so much utility both in life and in death.”

Despite 2020, my spiritual life has taken off. Learning about, and experiencing God reaching out to me through, the natural world has been the biggest part of it.

“For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.” Romans 1:19-20

I think a major consequence of the Industrial Revolution and our Digital Age is our disconnect with the natural world. A beautiful, funny, intricate, musical, brilliant creation that each generation gets to peel back more layers on, revealing the wisdom, creativity, and love of its Creator. Choosing not to be outside, get dirt under our fingernails, learn about and care for plants and animals, and observe nature at work is to put severe boundaries on our understanding of and relationship with God.

2020 brought new levels of stress and discouragement for nearly everyone, and Dr. Sleeth made an excellent observation on "biblically-based coping," so to speak:

"If Jesus is our teacher, model, and savior, then we should follow his example. When we are tired, when we are discouraged, when we are frustrated, when we are downcast, we need to do what Jesus did: seek solace in the woods."

Reforesting Faith is a great read if you’re looking for something with meat, but perhaps more practicality than a 400 page book on theology. :) I can guarantee it's a book you'll still be contemplating long after finishing the last word.


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