Exploring the gospel principles of earth stewardship

Stewardship in Action: Lance Long

We’re proud to present the first of a series of profiles of Church members that exemplify stewardship in some aspect of their lives.  We hope to show the diverse and wonderful ways that Church members show respect and wise use of the earth’s resources. 

Stewardship in Action:

Lance Long

Law Professor at Stetson University in Florida

Lance LRW PhotoHow did you become interested in environmental law?

I first became interested in environmental law in 1971 while I was a boy living in a rustic cabin north of Ketchum, Idaho. I loved living in the Sawtooth Mountains, and was enthralled with the beauty of the west. One morning on our school bus ride to Hailey, Idaho (we rode the bus with Ernest Hemingway’s granddaughters, Margaux and Mariel) we discovered that all of the billboards south of Ketchum had been felled by an environmental activist dubbed “Chainsaw Charlie.” (The decaying wooden stumps of some of the billboards can still be seen today.) I was excited by the bold action that had resulted in a beautified landscape, but was troubled by its illegal nature. Twenty-five years later, I found myself representing industrial polluters and land developers as an attorney for Morrison & Foerster in Orange County, California. I didn’t feel good about what I was doing with my life and started changing it. I started teaching legal writing at BYU, and in 2007, I took a visiting professor position at the University of Oregon, mostly because of its environmental law programs. While at Oregon, I came into contact with some of the most intelligent and passionate environmentalists in the world, including Vandana Shiva, Gus Speth, and Mary Wood. My Oregon experience solidified my resolve to become an environmental justice activist. After Oregon, I became a tenured professor at Stetson University College of Law in Gulfport, Florida where I teach legal writing, environmental law, and environmental advocacy.


What have you learned about environmental stewardship in your work?

I have learned that there is no substitute for setting an example, walking the walk. I believe that the best way to create a more kind and sustainable world is to personally lead a more kind and sustainable life. I hope to have an impact on my students more because of how I live rather than the things that I teach.

Why is environmental stewardship important to you?

I believe that environmental stewardship encompasses both social justice and sustainability. For me, the two are inseparable. I believe I cannot be a Christian without caring for the earth and all living things on it.

How does the Gospel affect how you think about the environment?

The Gospel gives me the spiritual and philosophical basis for caring about others in the present and others in future generations. I admire those who strive to live lives that enrich current and future generations even though they may not believe there is any intrinsic spiritual purpose in doing so. I believe there is, and that belief makes environmental stewardship all the more meaningful to me.

What is one message you would like to convey to members of the Church about stewardship?

I would like to convey my belief that stewardship is not about serving the Church. The Church should be about serving God’s children and God’s creation. I believe that if our Church membership is not about seeking equality in temporal and spiritual things, then we are not being wise stewards. I believe happiness and peace are found in loving each other, the earth, and all things in it.

 

To see more of Lance is involved in, see this video promoting environmental law at Stetson, and this article about the projects Lance’s students are working on.

If you would like to suggest someone to highlight in the future, let us know