Greening the Children of God uncovers the theological roots of the growing ethical imperative to reconnect children to their natural environment. In their different traditions, theologians, environmental educators and psychologists all affirm that knowing their place in the natural environment helps a child develop an intersubjective ‘ecological’ identity that nurtures virtues of mutuality and care. During the Scientific Revolution this ethical harmony was threatened as science and moral theology began to adopt different epistemological methods, something the Anglican priest and poet Thomas Traherne was all too aware of.
Traherne insisted that education should promote a child’s attention to the moral dimensions woven into ‘the tapestry of creation’, and professed that play, wonder, and a sensory relationship to diverse creatures play a pedagogical role in a child’s moral formation. Greening the Children of God establishes the contemporary significance of Traherne’s moral theory in conversation with child psychologists, educators, philosophers, and theologians who know that cultivating a place-based relationship to the local ecology helps children perceive creation’s deep mutuality and develop a moral identity in the image of a caring Creator.
1. Platonist, Poet, or Paracelsian? Locating Thomas Traherne among the Science of the New Philosophy
2. “Between Ants and Angels”: Outlining the Empirical Basis of Traherne’s Moral Theory in The Kingdom of God
3. Retirednes: Understanding the Principles of the Perceiving Child
4. Retirednes: The Role That Created Objects Play in the Formation of a Child’s Inter-Subjective Moral Identity
5. Retirednes: Interest as the Motivation for Moral Formation
6. Cultivating the Careful Child: The Pro-formative Role That Ecology Plays in Educating Caring Children
Endorsements and Reviews
‘No child outdoors’ is a sad trend in modern society, but Rimmer shows an exit blazed by Thomas Traherne, an early-modern thinker who traced God’s love throughout creation. Where others settled for mind against matter, and science against faith, Traherne saw nature and grace to be interrelated in empirical details, and keyed on wonder in moral formation. Readers disheartened by environmental crisis may find in Greening the Children of God a map to hope.
Gilson Waldkoenig, United Lutheran Seminary
In this lucidly written book Chad Rimmer makes a superb case for the ethical imperative to reconnect children with the natural world both for their own wellbeing and as the way to recover a multigenerational sense of responsibility for Earth and her threatened habitats and species. Combining an illuminating new reading of the Anglican spiritual writings of Thomas Traherne with the latest insights from child and developmental psychology, it turns out that humans cannot ‘save’ the earth unless they learn their need of Earth and her creatures!
Professor Michael Northcott, Universitas Gadjah Mada, Indonesia