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Debra Rienstra

Professor / Writer


The art of being human in a God-beloved world.

My latest book, on faith and climate change, is called Refugia Faith: Seeking Hidden Shelters, Ordinary Wonders, and the Healing of the Earth (Fortress 2022). Much of my writing lately focuses on taking the climate crisis seriously and responding with the resources of faith, mercy, and justice.

I have been doing quite a bit of speaking (and listening!) lately among people of faith and conscience who are active in the climate movement–or who would like to be more involved. If you are interested in inviting me to speak at your event, please click on the “speaker request” button on this website. I consider it a privilege and joy to meet new people eager to do the good work of addressing the climate crisis.

As a writer and college professor, I combine perspectives from the past—especially the literary tradition—with reflection on contemporary thought and current issues. Most of all, I draw on the rich resources of a generous, intelligent, ecumenical, genuine Christianity to explore all aspects of culture.

If you like to learn new things while celebrating the beautiful, lamenting the tragic, and having fun wherever possible—then we’re on the same journey. With the help of good books and good people who are doing hopeful work, we can seek how best to offer our small lives for the greater blessing of the world God loves.


I post a new essay to this website about every two weeks. These essays almost always appear first on The Reformed Journal blog. I also write a fortnightly newsletter on climate change with a faith angle. Sign up for the Refugia Newsletter at You can also follow me on Facebook @debrakrienstra.


Debra Rienstra is professor of English at Calvin University, where she has taught since 1996, specializing in creative nonfiction, early British literature, and environmental literature. Her most recent book is Refugia Faith: Seeking Hidden Shelters, Ordinary Wonders, and the Healing of the Earth (Fortress 2022), a book that combines theology, nature writing, and biological principles to consider how Christians must adapt our faith and practice for a climate-altered planet.

In connection with her work on faith and climate change, Debra speaks frequently to church and faith groups, hosts the Refugia Podcast, and writes the Refugia Newsletter on Substack. Her essays also appear fortnightly at The Reformed Journal, where she writes about spirituality, pop culture, the church, the arts, higher ed, and more. Debra is the author of three previous books—on motherhood, Christian spirituality, and worship—as well as numerous academic essays, literary essays, and poems.

Debra serves on the research advisory board of the BTS Center and the coordinating committee for Third Act Faith. She is also active in several of her university’s campus-wide sustainability initiatives.

Debra was raised in Michigan and holds a BA from the University of Michigan and a PhD from Rutgers University. She and her husband, Rev. Dr. Ron Rienstra, have three grown children. When not writing (or grading!) or reading, Debra enjoys figuring out how to garden, solving crossword puzzles, hiking in the dunes near Lake Michigan, or listening to very wonky podcasts.