Bill McKibben writes, of Paul Santmire’s 2017 book, Behold the Lilies, “What a lovely small book, and what a powerful antidote to Twitter, Facebook, and all the rest. To be immersed in the world around us is one of the greatest gifts!”
For more than 50 years I have been addressing ecological and justice issues from a Christian theological perspective. In my retirement, I still feel called to be an ecological theologian and public witness. On this website I provide information about myself, my background, my writings, and themes that continue to be of interest to me. If you think I might be of any assistance to you in your setting, do not hesitate to contact me.
For a short introduction to my longstanding theological passions, see my book of reflections, Behold the Lilies: Jesus and the Contemplation of Nature — a Primer (2017). Before Nature: A Christian Spirituality (2014) was the culminating work of my scholarly and pastoral career. Informed throughout by the classical Christian tradition, that study brought my life’s work in ecological theology to a personal, spiritual conclusion. Before Nature has already been celebrated by a variety of theologians and practitioners. It is addressed to two audiences, to the large and growing number of spiritual seekers in our day, on the one hand, and to those theologians and practitioners who are in conversation with those seekers, on the other hand. My most recent book explores some of the contributions of Reformation traditions to current ecotheology and spirituality: Celebrating Nature by Faith: Studies in Reformation Theology in an Era of Global Emergency (2020).
A frequent speaker at church assemblies and in college, university, and seminary settings, I have been an advocate in the field of ecological theology since I published my first book, Brother Earth: Nature, God, and Ecology in a Time of Crisis (1970).
My historical study of Christian theologies of nature, The Travail of Nature: the Ambiguous Ecological Promise of Christian Theology (1985), was praised by critics and leaders in the field such as Lynn White, Jr. and John B. Cobb, Jr. I outlined my own theology of nature in Nature Reborn: the Ecological and Cosmic Promise of Christian Theology (2000). My next book, Ritualizing Nature: Renewing Christian Liturgy in a Time of Crisis (2008), celebrated by the eminent liturgical scholar, Gordon Lathrop, and by the internationally known ethicist, Larry Rasmussen, explored the ecological meanings of Christian worship practices.
A Harvard-educated teacher and practitioner, I served as Chaplain and Lecturer in Religion and Biblical Studies at Wellesley College in Massachusetts, as the Pastor of an inner-city congregation in Hartford, Connecticut, and as the Senior Pastor of a historic metropolitan church in downtown Akron, Ohio. Ordained in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, I now live and write in the Boston area. I celebrate my passion for rural Maine in the aforementioned Behold the Lilies.