That stands for "What Would Jesus Drive?" and the New York Times has an article about the guy who originated that slogan, The Rev. Jim Ball, the executive director of the nonprofit Evangelical Environmental Network.
Four years ago Mr. Ball and his wife, Kara, drove the Prius from Texas east across the Bible Belt in a provocative stunt that, in keeping with the core mission of his organization, awakened evangelical churches to the threat of global warming. It also awakened Americans to the existence of the human hybrid known as a Green Evangelical.
It turns out that Jim and Kara Ball spend a lot of time thinking not just about what Jesus would drive, but also about how his people should wash their clothes, light their bathrooms, clean their windows, shop for groceries and furnish their living rooms — the day-to-day elements of what some Christian environmentalists call “creation care.”
Mr. and Mrs. Ball recounted what they called their “creation-care romance.” They met in 2000 at a loud Christian music festival in Pennsylvania, called “Creation Fest,” where she was the chaperone for her church youth group and he was manning the table for the Evangelical Environmental Network, which he took over that year.
At the time, she was living on 70 acres in central Pennsylvania with a flock of chickens and two rare six-horned Jacob sheep and organizing churches and farmers in a watershed conservancy program. On one of their first dates, the sheep escaped to the woods. The Balls were engaged in three months, married in a year.
One of the first things he told her when they met was that he was devoted to the global warming issue, and probably would be for the rest of his life. In the seminary, he had dismissed environmentalism as unimportant compared to poverty and oppression and war. But while studying for a Ph.D. in theological ethics at Drew University, he was challenged by another student to reread what the Bible had to say about care for God’s creation.
“Colossians, chapter 1, verses 15 to 20 is the touchstone text for me,” he said. “ ‘All things have been created by Him and for Him. All things have been reconciled by His blood on the cross.’ The Apostle Paul tells us we are called to be ministers of reconciliation, and that means caring for all things.”
He read everything he could on energy policy, climate science and the history of environmentalism, but said one book in particular made him realize the connections between global warming and poverty. Asked what book, he said: “I’ll cop to it. It was ‘Earth in the Balance,’ ” the 1992 bestseller by Al Gore. “That might get me in some trouble,” he said. “I’m a great admirer of the vice president, but some people in my community aren’t.”
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