The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


Earth & Word and Arctic Tale


Earth & Word: Classic Sermons on Saving the Planet is a collection of 36 sermons about the Christian’s responsibility to care for God’s creation. The editor, David Rhoads, is professor of New Testament at the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago. He directs Web of Creation, which provides resources for faith communities around issues of ecology and faith. The sermons in this paperback come from different denominations, faith traditions and ethnic communities. They were originally delivered in such contexts as a marriage ceremony, a commencement liturgy, a college chapel service, a ritual for the blessing of animals, Thanksgiving Day and a children’s sermon.

We were especially impressed with Lutheran theologian Joseph Sittler on care of the earth, theologian Sally McFague on the dire effects of consumerism on the planet, philosopher Thomas Berry on “the great work of our time” and Episcopal priest Margaret Bullitt-Jonas on eco-justice (Continuum International Publishing).


Arctic Tale, a National Geographic production, was filmed by Adam Ravetch and Sarah Robertson, a husband-and-wife team who spent two decades filming the Arctic’s mammals for TV nature shows. The filmmakers have a deep respect for these animals and their struggle to survive in an environment that is undergoing tremendous changes due to global warming. They used their footage to create an adventure story about a polar bear named Nanu and a walrus named Seela. We follow their development from newborns to the point where they are ready to go off on their own.

It’s fun watching Nanu and her brother cavort on the ice. Their mother teaches the cubs how to capture a seal hiding under a layer of ice by pounding on the surface. But because the ice is melting, their hunting advantage over the prey diminishes every day. The search for food during their first year becomes a major challenge for mother and cubs, and we see the effect of scarcity. Although cubs usually stay with their mothers for three years, Nanu’s mom drives her away to find new territory for food after just two years. It’s a heartrending scene but she does survive, although at one point she must risk a 200-mile ocean swim to find prey to eat.

After her birth, Seela is nurtured by her mother and becomes part of a large community of walruses. Thinning ice that is too weak to hold them is becoming a problem. At one point the herd heads off to find a new place to rest out of the water. These gigantic creatures, who look awkward on the land, become graceful underwater.

Arctic Tale makes it easy for us to empathize with Nanu and Seela. Creatures “designed for astonishing cold,” their lifestyle is dependent upon the ice. Its loss presents major problems for the healthy survival of these species (Paramount Vantage—G).


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