Book Review: Jesus Would Recycle

I just finished Jesus Would Recycle, by Joe Johnston, and I wanted to share some of my favorite parts. For my non-Christian or atheist friends, I really recommend skimming through these quotes. It’s not your average Christian-living, head-in-the-sand kind of book. It’s probably the best thing I’ve read since Animal, Vegetable, Miracle. It’s not the most eloquent prose I’ve ever read, but in content, it has made a huge impact on me.  I have a proclivity to wander around bookstores and see what’s there, and thank goodness that this one jumped out at me!

I’ve never heard of the author before, but I consider him a kindred spirit. Not only does he write about green living, but he talks about salvation, rebirth and the essence of what Jesus said to us in a way that seems revolutionary and, at the same time, one of those things you never knew you always knew.

If you don’t go buy this book, you will be getting it from me for your next birthday or Christmas! Here are some links to order it online and learn more about Joe’s other writings and ventures (he’s also a songwriter, publisher, advertiser, and music producer).

Here are a few of my favorite parts of the book!


*Joe’s view on salvation as a way of life: “It’s about adopting a lifestyle that will naturally save us in this place. Like everything else in the Bible, Noah’s story is ultimately about our salvation. Salvation not only in the face of sin, but also in the face of floods and whatever else this world throws at us…Everything is saved by living the life intended for it. Jesus said that. We can choose the lifestyle of salvation. We can accept his gift of healthy ways of living that can go on and on without end.”

*”A lot of people don’t realize that Jesus didn’t really talk about salvation. That idea was formulated some time after his life. But he did talk about the way we’re supposed to live our earthly lives. In Luke 10, when a man asked us how we are to live, Jesus tossed the same question back to him. The man answered that we’re supposed to love God, and love our neighbors the same as ourselves. Jesus said that’s right. “Do this and you will live.” ( Luke 10:28 ) He didn’t say you’ll get a robe and crown and walk the golden streets. He said you’ll live, right now, today, in this life. He wants us to live, not only forever, but right now. He said no one comes to the father except by him. In other words, if we’re not living the way he showed us, we’re not living. If we’re aware of our Creator’s presence in all things, we’ll naturally live in a way that will sustain us. We’ll be saved.”

*”The Great Commandment is at the very heart of our role as caretakers of the earth. If we truly love God, love each other, and love ourselves, we will be faithful sustainers of every part of our earthly home.”

*”When Jesus says, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life,’ he isn’t separating, he’s inviting. He’s not talking about himself as a man, but as a way of living and believing. He wasn’t setting himself up as a membership chairman of an exclusive club. He didn’t prescribe a way to worship or select a Bible translation we should use. On the contrary, Jesus wasn’t about methods. He was about faith, heart, intention, and results. So all he really means is that if you don’t get Jesus’ message of love in the flesh, you don’t get God. That was his invitation to the Father, and we just can’t improve on that. So as inhabitants of our shrinking globe, when waste on one side of the world pollutes the other side of the world, we can’t use John 14:6 as an excuse to shun those who don’t worship as we do.”

*”We need things from the world, and the world needs things from us. In traditional, indigenous societies, they make a big deal of giving and receiving with the world. For example, if a person gathers berries or medicinal herbs, that person will first ask permission, then give thanks, and make an offering, perhaps of some tobacco or a piece of bread or fish. So while taking the berries or medicine, that person is giving respect, and in the scientific way, we know that little offering will rot, providing a little nourishment to the plants that aren’t picked that day. This assures good harvests in the future, both in a spiritual way, and in the scientific way. But in our lifestyle, our way is to take. We take without respect for the life of the things we take, nor of the void left behind when we take them. If we pick a handful of wildflowers, that leaves a void in some bumblebee’s lunch plans.”

*”We’ve lost touch with our Mother Earth. We’ve lost touch with the changing of the seasons and flow of life from birth to death. We’ve lost touch with other people. We’ve lost touch with everything we once depended on…Meanwhile, wherever we go, the earth is giving us information and positive feelings. All we have to do is listen, be close, pay attention. Then everything will be better for us and the people who come after us. We’ll gather words and emotions and intuitions. We’ll learn lessons that we need to teach our children. We’ll see who we are and how we’re related to everything. We’ll find our lost community. God will give us what we need and tell us what to do. Funny thing is, people can’t be healed without all of creation being healed. That’s simple natural law. The healing will begin when we acknowledge the interconnectedness of all creation and let that lead us back to God’s universal healing power.”

*”The more oil we pump, the more pollution we create, and the longer we as a society postpone the change to cleaner, more efficient fuels. Everything about oil production is abusive to life on earth, so the only love in the picture is love of money.”

*”The Christian community is in a unique position to unite and motivate people and nations in this, the most basic and pervasive of missions. It has to start in the hearts of individuals, but every church also has a sacred calling to do this work. The church has the people in the pews where they can hear the message. Churches have the buildings for meetings and for organizing action. And the church knows how to unite people and set them into action in important work.”

*”No matter what we do, where we go, what we build, what we think, or what we want, natural laws apply. We suffer to the extent that we ignore these things, and we flourish when we honor them. Everything we have and everything we can make in the future – modern science, medicine, airplanes, computers, food, entertainment, and marvelous things we haven’t even conceived of yet – can all be ours only in concert with all of creation.”

*On the “problem of pain” – this one just made me giggle, and I love it!: “Are we loved? What if we’re not loved, and a flood comes along and drowns us? Thoughts like this have been ruling our lives. We’re repeatedly told that nothing’s ever good enough…But you see, we are loved. And yes, by the way, a flood could come along and drown you. The flood is loved, too. And all of that is perfect.”

*”We’re to understand that natural law continues always in everything, even the things created by humans. We’re to embrace the notion that we are of the natural world. We’re one family with the sunlight and the storm. We share the same life as the grass, the river, and the mountain. Our pain and our healing are two sides of the same gift. Everything that has been here before will be here again, and everything that passes will be reborn.”

*Jesus was flesh and blood in a very different world. He spent a lot of time walking around dry, arid plains, at a time when towns were far apart and almost everybody lived near a body of water. In his era, waste was almost unknown, because everything was so scarce. Most people were just scraping by. So if he were flesh and blood today, in affluent, crowded, fast-paced America, he’d say different things, use different parables, and probably even perform different miracles. After all, ours sheep are raised on corporate farms, and simply don’t get lost. So he’d be talking about the world we know. Not about a cruel Caesar, but about over-consumption. Not about leprosy, but about diabetes. Of course, his basic message, the Great Commandment, would be the same. No matter where or how we live, in every age he asks us to love God and creation. So when we ask, ‘What would Jesus do?’ we don’t mean, ‘What would a wandering rabbi do?’ We’re asking, ‘How does someone exhibit God’s love here, now, in my house, with my spouse, my kids, my friends, my job, my mortgage, rooting for my favorite team, being bombarded by all these media messages?’ The answer is far-reaching. But one thing’s for sure. Jesus would recycle.”


3 Responses

  1. A lot of people don’t realize that Jesus didn’t really talk about salvation.

    yah, there are a lot of things that people think are biblical that really really aren’t. like the trinity, for one. 🙂

    i’d be interested in borrowing this if you feel like lending it.

  2. Joe does indeed sound like a kindred spirit! Thanks for the quotes, I’m going to have to track this book down…

  3. […] Jesus Would Recycle – A good book review by JANIE! […]

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