Thanks to my sister Michelle McIlroy for designing the logo!


Ever since I was a child, I have been very interested in nature and the environment. I have a B.S. degree in wildlife biology, and have worked as a zookeeper, wildlife biologist, and ecologist. I am conducting a brief survey of world leaders, government officials, religious leaders, corporate CEOs, environmental groups, wildlife experts, and others regarding nature and the environment. I am also very interested in religious views, customs, and beliefs from around the world, and the interactions between religion, culture, society, and the environment. This is something I am doing out of personal interest, and is not connected to any group or organization. I have been working on this project since the summer of 2006, and hope to eventually turn it into a book and/or documentary. I am hoping to make this into a global project, with responses from all segments of society. Feel free to contact me directly if you have any questions or comments. If you have not already done so, I hope that you will consider taking part in my project, and please spread the word to anyone you think might be interested! Thanks for stopping by!


June 15, 2008

E. Calvin Beisner, Ph.D.

National Spokesman, Cornwall Alliance for the Stewardship of Creation (

Today’s Date: April 19, 2008

1. What interaction with an animal and/or nature in your life has had the biggest impact on you?

I cannot restrict my reflections here to a single instance.

The most vivid pictorial memory from my very early childhood is from when I lived in Calcutta, India, where my father worked with the U.S. State Department, with coordination of food aid as part of his responsibility. (His observations of the misallocation of most of the grain shipped to India--its resale to other countries to enrich Indian bureaucrats and politicians and fund arms procurement--was among the great heartbreaks of his life.) Because of my mother's illness, most mornings, very early, I walked with a guide to another home for the day. We were out early enough that often the trucks had not yet come around to pick up the corpses of those who had died of starvation overnight. Images of those corpses form that vivid pictorial memory, and they have long been an important motivator in my desire to see economic development in the poorest countries of the world to deliver people from hunger, disease, and starvation. Although India is a naturally beautiful country, with lush tropical vegetation in many places, its sad history left it, at mid-twentieth century, still desperately poor. Reflecting on that--and on the continuance of such problems in sub-Saharan Africa and other desperately poor areas of the world--helps me to remember that our pursuit of environmental stewardship must go hand-in-hand with the pursuit of human well being.

A second instance appears under #2 below.

A third comes from my fishing (mostly) and hunting (occasionally) with my father when we later lived in rural upstate New York. These wonderful outings exposed me to much of the beauty of creation in a totally different climate and culture. Sometimes it was of creation little touched by human hands, but often it was also of creation ably and wisely managed by human hands, enhancing fish and deer populations, dotting the landscape with lovely ponds, restoring dense forests after prior cutting. These experiences helped me to appreciate how the created order contributes to human thriving--and how human care can contribute to natural thriving, too.

And a fourth comes from a week spent at a remote lake in the rugged Canadian Rockies during my teen years, quietly hiking, canoeing, fishing, observing the majestic mountains, waterfalls, and forests, and watching and listening in amazement during thunderstorms as lightning flashed, thunder crashed, and torrents cascaded off the steep cliffs into the choppy water of the usually mirror-still lake. What a wonderful reminder of the constant changeableness and resilience of God's creation!

2. Did you have a favorite place in the great outdoors during your childhood?

While living in rural upstate New York, when I wasn't in school I was almost constantly running, hiking, climbing trees, and stalking game--sometimes real but mostly imagined!--in the nearby wood and meadow. The tallest tree in the wood was a favorite of mine, and I frequently climbed to a natural "cradle" near its top and lay among the branches, swaying with the wind, listening to the birds, watching the beautiful clouds scudding across the sky, sometimes watching as daylight turned to dark and the moon and stars came out. Even in high winds, I enjoyed that spot. Down on the ground, I would gather many creatures--among them frogs, salamanders, mice, beetles and bugs of many kinds, sometimes snakes--for the menagerie I maintained at home. For me they were not just objects of study but even playmates. My many young buddies and I didn't think of this as an organized environmental field trip (It was anything but organized!); it was everyday life. But it instilled in me a love for God's beautiful, mysterious, intricate creation that has stayed with me all my life.

Now? Living now in south Florida, I enjoy the beaches, occasionally the Everglades, and, in the aftermath of a hurricane (in itself an absolutely awe-inspiring experience, though in the midst of it I'm grateful for the shelter my modern, post-Andrew-code house affords!) that leaves lights off and the sky less humid than usual, the brilliant, starry sky, so often barely visible because of suburban lights and high humidity or cloud cover. But my traveling to give lectures often takes me to other places where I can drink in more of the beauty of the creation--to Pikes Peak, in Colorado, or to the less dramatic but more lush mountains of rural southeastern Tennessee, or the Appalachians of the Carolinas and Tennessee and Virginia and West Virginia, or the Poconos or the lovely countryside of rural western Connecticut and Massachusetts. Whenever I can, on such trips, I make a point of walking nature trails, absorbing the vistas, or simply lying out on the grass and watching as the canopy of stars slowly passes overhead.

3. As a former zookeeper, I would love to know what your favorite animal is and why?

Well, years ago I would have said lions or tigers (particularly when, at a zoo, a tiny tiger cub walked between my 18-month-old daughter's legs and we got a marvelous picture of it), but my sixth child, a son, has for several years been a great fan of otters, reading everything he can get his hands on about them, and I think he's converted me!

4. What do you think is the greatest environmental challenge facing us now, and what do you think will be the greatest challenge in the future?

How interesting that you should ask this question at this time! I addressed that very question in the first of a series of "Mt. Nebo Papers" being produced by the Institute on Religion and Democracy, and the paper was released just last week, titled "What Is the Most Important Environmental Task Facing American Christians Today?" It can be read at (Free and fast registration might be required before you can access it.) I will let you read the paper itself so that you understand why I think as I do on this question rather than just give you the quick answer.

5. If you could give one piece of advice regarding the environment and our natural resources, what would it be?

God has told us what we must do. What does He require of us, but to do justice, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with Him (Micah 6:8)?

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