My review of a new book on green living has just been published in the Sept./Oct. edition of Prism magazine. It begins with my reflections of working the land with Dad Payton:
This week I’ve been working outside with my robust but slowing 81-year-old father-in-law, Ernie Payton, trimming weeds, cutting down dead trees, and protecting new ash from the deer. Lt. Colonel Payton, a retired Salvation Army pastor, has owned a four-acre property up the hill and south of Ithaca, N.Y., since 1947, first as a summer vacation spot for the family and then as a full-time home in retirement. During those years he’s built a simple house on the property while providing pastoral care, raising a family, and providing solace for the faithful and soup, soap, and salvation for the indigent.
Ernie is a Christian environmentalist, although as a strongly conservative churchgoer and Fox News fan he would never call himself that nor enjoy the title. He’s an environmentalist not because of his words but because of what he’s done. He has honored God as the Creator, nurtured the land, taken a personal interest in every plant on his property, maintained thriving bird feeders, lived the simple life of a Depression-era kid, taught his three children to live simply and graciously, recycled everything possible, saved energy in old-fashioned ways such as turning out lights and moderating use of heating and cooling, shared and traded tools with neighbors, and kept the Sabbath restful and holy.
There is much more he could do to protect his land and his health, things he doesn’t know about but that he might be motivated to do if he could find the time and energy. I was reading a new book on “becoming earth-friendly,” Green, American Style, in the crevices of evening time after our work on the land, wondering if there was anything there for guys like Ernie or the many other family members and friends who, though politically conservative, are faithful Christians inclined toward daily habits that produce healthy lives, stronger families, and better communities.