Chapter 7: Stewardship and the Kingdom of God by James Skillen

An illustrated companion to Chapter 7 of Beyond Stewardship: New Approaches to Creation Care. To view main webpage, click here:

Market economies value certain parts of God’s nonhuman creation for their direct utility to humans. They do not value elements of the creation that have no monetary usefulness to humans or the supporting ecosystems that are necessary for holding all the parts together."
Economic Valuation of Ecosystem Services (Image courtesy of Janice Wharton)
Jackson smiled when he said “the Kingdom of God” because he was joking, but in all seriousness. He was joking because he knew that we can’t build the Kingdom of God or a human economy that mirrors it. Jackson was perfectly serious, though, because he knew that the creation will fully flourish only when God’s comprehensive Kingdom arrives.”

To read more about Wes Jackson, click the following link:

We should think of stewardship as seeking first the Kingdom of God, trusting that God’s grace covers our failures and that God will complete the good work begun in us by creating a new heavens and a new earth."
"Three Pillars model of Sustainability" Dirk Pons [CC BY 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0)] https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Three_Pillars_model_of_Sustainability.jpg
The market economy creates these vast networks of relationships around the globe. It also obscures, or hides, those relationships through market exchanges. As the market economy grows in space and complexity, so does consumer ignorance."
"U.S. Merchandise Exports, Imports, and Trade Balance" by James 4 [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)] https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:U.S._Merchandise_Exports,_Imports,_and_Trade_Balance.png
Humbly cultivating the ancient Christian process of confession and renewal creates the patterns and practices we need to identify our failures and to press on in humble confidence, faith, and hope.”
The Book of Common Prayer and Administration of the Sacraments and Other Rites and Ceremonies of the Church Together with the Psalter or Psalms of David (New York: Oxford University Press, 1990), 360.
We need to confess, for example, that our economy causes enormous harm to people and to the nonhuman creation. It creates wealth for some people, while others go hungry. It yields examples of ecological restoration and yet continues to stimulate utter destruction. Confessing both systemic sins and our complicity in them does not necessarily require that we reject the capitalist market economy. It does require, however, that we acknowledge the very real suffering it causes. We confess. We seek forgiveness. We seek wisdom to navigate economically.”

The Story of the U.S. Forest Service

The early Forest Service established a policy of full fire suppression in the national forests, because fire destroys valuable lumber."

Incomplete knowledge, both of the effects of fire suppression and of the optimal harvest yield for sustainability, led the U.S. Forest Service to allow lumber companies to harvest significantly more trees than was healthy for the forests.

Graph from U.S. Department of Agriculture, webpage link below.

Over-harvesting contributed to a decline in forest health.

Map from U.S. Department of Agriculture, webpage link below.

Today, the U.S. Forest Service has moved away from Sustainable-Yield Forestry, which wasn't as sustainable as hoped, in favor of Adaptive Ecosystem Management.

Acknowledging the complexity of forest ecosystems, the Forest Service moved away from a fixed approach to management. In other words, they didn’t assume that the best-informed forest plan would get everything right. Forest management, the agency said, should be an adaptive process. Each plan for a forest is like a research hypothesis.”
Adaptive Ecosystem Management
eschatological stewardship is, above all, hopeful stewardship in which we seek to learn more about God’s 89 creation and God’s promises through the successes and the failures that flow from our efforts."

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