Caring for the land: a reflection by Martin and Margot Hodson

Caring for the land: a reflection by Martin and Margot Hodson

Ahead of the two-day #COP26 World Leader’s Summit starting tomorrow, we're sharing a reflection from Green Reflections, a book of 62 reflection on the environment and our relationship with it, written by Martin and Margot Hodson of The John Ray Initiative.

Caring for the land

When you lay siege to a city for a long time… do not destroy its trees by putting an axe to them, because you can eat their fruit… Are the trees people, that you should besiege them?
Deuteronomy 20:19 (abridged)

Is it worth sacrificing everything to win? As a young person, it can seem so, and over time sacrifices might be regained. With maturity, we realise that few prizes are worth destroying everything else for and, ultimately, family, friends and community are those things of greatest value.

Sometimes armies have destroyed farms, woodland and orchards in battle, only to discover the cost of their loss after victory. This passage looks at the specific issue of armies cutting down orchards, but has a wider application for our care of nature as a whole. It can be seen in two ways: first, we should care for creation because we depend on it for life. If we destroy our planet, we destroy ourselves. But second, we should care for nature because it is an innocent bystander in the drama of human activity. It does not lay siege to us and so we should protect it.

In the end, we have to ask whether the goal of continuing economic growth is worth the cost of damaging God’s earth beyond immediate repair. As people with the wisdom of age, we have something important to contribute in this debate.

From Green Reflections by Martin and Margot Hodson

Dr. Martin Hodson is a plant scientist and environmental biologist and has over 100 publications mostly in international science journals. He teaches at both of the universities in Oxford and is the Principal Tutor for the distance learning course, Christian Rural and Environmental Studies (CRES). 

Rev. Margot Hodson is Theology and Education Director for the John Ray Initiative (JRI), an organisation connecting Environment, Science, and Christianity. She is also a Vicar in the Oxford Diocese. The Hodsons have published widely together on Christianity and the environment, and have several books including A Christian Guide to Environmental Issues (BRF, second edition).

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