Book Review: Oil and Honey By Bill McKibben

From The Catalyst Summer 2014

Oil and Honey: The Education of an Unlikely Activist
By BillMcKibben
Times Books, 2013

Reviewed by Mishka Lysack

First, a confession. I’ve re-read Bill McKibben’s Oil and Honey not twice but three times. Why? McKibben’s most recent book is a compelling and deeply engaging journey into environmental activism and creation advocacy. It’s also timely, as public discussions about the environment, pipelines and coal, and accelerating climate change are on the rise.

This book is also a fascinating, endearing, and, at times, amusing look into the mind of one of the best-known environmental activists of our time, tracing his activism from the summer of 2011 to the summer of 2013. In the face of worsening climate change and the overwhelming resources of the fossil fuel industry, he searches for alternative “currencies of movement”: passion, numbers, and creativity.

Oil and Honey unfolds on two levels; the intensity of McKibben’s advocacy and astonishing pace of his work is combined with a more contemplative and reflective account of his time at his home in Vermont and his new-found passion of beekeeping. These two contrasting threads of the active and the contemplative weave and crisscross, each giving life and meaning to the other.

McKibben’s activism is rooted in a Christian faith. Like the great environmental Biblical prophet Jeremiah, McKibben’s writing burns with the clean flame of prophetic commitment and radiates a creation-centred spirituality refreshingly free of the hyper-individualism, otherworldly escapism, or disempowered apathy that can be detected in the contemporary church and society.

With the growing threat of climate change, McKibben provides us with an inspiring and thoughtful guide for how we can heed God’s call to be effective creation advocates.

In a time of both serious environmental crisis and great opportunity, this book is a great gift to us all. It’s a bold prophetic summons to the church to fulfill its vocation to protect creation.

Share via
Copy link