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Restored to EarthRestored to Earth

Christianity, Environmental Ethics, and Ecological Restoration

Gretel Van Wieren

Narrated by Francie Wyck

Available from Audible

Book published by Georgetown University Press

Ecological restoration integrates the science and art of repairing ecosystems damaged by human activities. Despite relatively little attention from environmental ethicists, restoration projects continue to gain significance, drawing on citizen volunteers and large amounts of public funds, providing an important model of responding to ecological crisis. Projects range from the massive, multi-billion dollar Kissimmee River project; restoring 25,000 acres of Everglades' wetlands; to the $30 million effort to restore selected wetlands in industrial Brownfield sites in Chicago's south side Lake Calumet area; to the reintroduction of tall grass prairie ecosystems in various communities in the Midwest.

Restored to Earth provides the first comprehensive examination of the religious and ethical dimensions and significance of contemporary restoration practice, an ethical framework that advances the field of environmental ethics in a more positive, action-oriented, experience-based direction. Van Wieren brings together insights and examples from restoration ecology, environmental ethics, religious studies, and conservation and Christian thought, as well as her own personal experiences in ecological restoration, to propose a new restoration ethic grounded in the concrete, hands-on experience of humans working as partners with the land.

Gretel Van Wieren is assistant professor in the Department of Religious Studies at Michigan State University. She received her MDiv and PhD in Religious Studies from Yale University, where her dissertation was awarded a Louisville Institute Fellowship. She has served as a pastor and worked on environmental issues in the Reformed Church in America.


Restored to Earth, is a helpful overview of contemporary approaches to ecological restoration. To date it is the best book on religious approaches to ecological restoration and can be commended on that basis.”

—Andrew Spencer, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, Wake Forest, NC, Journal of Markets & Morality

“Begins to construct new narratives and provides hope for nature, human and nonhuman alike.”

Catholic Library World

“For people familiar with debates about restoration, the book's most important contribution is to emphasize the religious and spiritual dimensions of restoration and. in particular, the ways restoration is a collective activity that creates and strengthens human communities at the same time it can contributes to ecological health.”

Journal of Agricultural & Environmental Ethics

“For a planet that, like ecological restoration itself, is pitched between lament and hope, Van Wieren's work builds the needed bridges, bridges that let moral and spiritual dimensions join scientific ones. The result is a multifaceted culture of restoration in which we, too, are 'restored to Earth.' Moreover, the writing is clear and accessible, wholly capable of reaching the wide audience it deserves.”

—Larry Rasmussen, Reinhold Niebuhr Professor Emeritus of Social Ethics, Union Theological Seminary

“Gretel Van Wieren's book is a powerful and eloquent articulation of the mental and spiritual impacts of ecological restoration. Far more than just physical healing, Van Wieren reveals how repairing environmental damage can also restore our spirit, our hopes, our connection to place, and our commonality with life and its regenerative processes. This is a noble, inspiring, and beautiful book.”

—Stephen Kellert, Tweedy Ordway Professor Emeritus, Yale University School of Forestry and Environmental Studies and author of Birthright: People and Nature in the Modern World

“This ground-breaking, interdisciplinary book skillfully explains the ethical debates over ecological restoration and then connects them to religious ideas of restoration in ways that deepen civic, theological, and scientific conversations. It will be helpful not only to scientists and ethicists, but anyone who is interested in practical and hopeful responses to ecological degradation.”

—Willis Jenkins, associate professor of religious studies, University of Virginia

“Charting a much-needed course 'between lament and hope,' Gretel Van Wieren has written the definitive book linking the practice of ecological restoration to religious environmental ethics. As our world out of necessity now enters a 'restoration age,' what values and practices should guide us in this new terrain, so that as we work to restore both nature and communities we are restored to our natural and social homes? Van Wieren's religious restoration ethic provides just the ethic of hope and agency we need to confront contemporary ecological despair, and can help reorient environmental ethics and activism by fostering hope-filled healing of the places where we live and love.”

—Dan Spencer, associate professor of environmental studies, University of Montana

“Dr. Van Wieren sets herself an ambitious task in this book: to develop, as she puts it, a framework for an environmental ethic shaped not by theory but by practice—specifically the practice of ecological restoration—in the Christian tradition. In this marvelous, timely and much-needed book she makes impressive progress in that direction, providing broad and in-depth perspective on thinking in this area grounding her exploration in fascinating case studies while gently, unapologetically insisting on taking seriously the implications of restoration for change where it matters most—'where,' as Emily Dickinson wrote, 'the meanings are'. This is a book anyone who is interested in the discussion, discipline—and vocation—of restoration and the crucial role it has to play in ensuring the future of our planet will want to read.”

—William R. Jordan III, editor,

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University Press Audiobooks
an imprint of Redwood Audiobooks

University Press Audiobooks