Tag Archives: ecology

July 14: Up the Apricot tree


Suddenly it was time to harvest the apricots, and a bumper crop on our tree this year, branches laden, bending under the weight. Up in the tree is a good place to be, close to the sun-reflecting fruit.

There was plenty to store and plenty to share as jam or ice cream.

Good news, yes, but is it all good news?

As I downloaded this photo from the camera I saw that the one Mrs T took three years ago was taken three weeks later in the month. This year we had blackberries before the end of June.

Even a friend living in a nearby village has seen very few swallows or martins, though numbers of sparrows and starlings seem greater than recent years.

And now the city council propose an ugly new multi-storey car park near the centre of town but also next to a pollution blackspot.

Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he.

Proverbs 29:18

This surely refers to knowingly keeping God’s law, rather than blindly following those devised by human law-makers, who may not be supremely wise and well-meaning.

To say or sing Laudato Si’ sounds almost ironic at times, but we must live in hope and not allow ourselves to be cynical. We can start by sharing the apricots and leaving the car at home when we could walk.


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23 January: Crossing Barriers, Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, Canterbury.


West Gate  Monday 23rd January, 7.30‐8.15pm

New Life Church Hub, Roper Close, CT1 2EP

Law and local government, Justice

Just beside the West Gate Towers stands the Guildhall, the place from which the city has been governed for centuries. Today we pray for our city and county councils, for Sir Julian Brazier, our local MP, and for all those involved in the judicial system; for wisdom, insight and godly action.

(since most of the city gates have been demolished, this week’s pictures show gates from around Canterbury.)

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23 January: Putting Laudato Si’ into practice.


Dear Friends,

All the ends of the earth shall see
the salvation of our God.

Ps 98.

I had been hoping to look into Laudato Si’  in some depth and detail over the coming months: the care of our common home is important! And then I received an important and interesting reflection from Fr James Kurzynski on the Vatican Observatory web site. He recounts:

A person asked what new technologies we should be embracing as Catholics to take the first steps toward caring for our common home in light of Laudato Si’? I could tell I shocked the room a little when I simply said, “None of them.”

I urge you to read the whole article through this link –  changing hearts or changing habits? – and Laudato Si’  – and also to write to us through the comments box  at the bottom of this page. I  welcome contributions from followers and readers as well as our established writers. Please share your insights. 

If we receive comments I may collate them and use them in further posts about Laudato Si’. I look forward to hearing from you.




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Interruption! March 8th: Rat Island – Book Review.

RAT ISLAND by William Stolzenburg

Rat Island by William Stolzenburg, Bloomsbury, 2011. Review by MMB.

From the first I was sympathetic to the thesis of this book. When I read it, the squirrels in a nearby empty house had been culling unripe apricots from our tree, taking a quick nibble and throwing them away. That is a minor annoyance compared to the devastation described in Rat Island. This book charts how humankind has unwittingly damaged many species of animals and plants and driven some to extinction.

The story goes back hundreds of years and could be told across the world, but Stolzenburg concentrates on islands: those colonised by boat people around the Pacific Ocean, including New Zealand and Hawaii, and a number off the coast of North America, including the once aptly named Rat Island.

Until recently it seemed that simple human greed and ignorance had killed the forests of Easter Island, but rats were introduced to islands, sometimes for food, often accidentally. They prevented any regeneration of Easter Island forests by eating tree seeds. Elsewhere the rodents chewed through plants, insects, and brooding seabirds, upsetting the balance of nature, wiping out endemic species.

Control measures often made things worse. Weasels are as partial to eggs as the rodents they were supposed to eliminate in New Zealand, and satisfying their appetites drove the flightless, ground nesting Kakapo parrot to the very edge of extinction. Foxes, too, were all too happy to dine on nesting seabirds, literally sitting ducks.

Stolzenburg describes, in sometimes breathless prose, the faltering attempts to safeguard endangered species, and the resistance that fieldworkers and scientists faced from politicians, the public and well-meaning naturalists concerned about cruelty to rats dying from poison. He also documents the transformation when habitats were restored to the creatures that belong there. A good, informative read that puts next door’s squirrels into a global perspective. If you take Christian stewardship of creation seriously, it’s worth reading this well-researched and referenced book.



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* 23rd January 2016 On the Care of Our Common Home 

Welsh ponies on the Black Mountains near Hay-on-Wye; these are still ridden by local shepherds, but once would have worked underground as pit ponies.

Welsh ponies on the Black Mountains near Hay-on-Wye; these are still ridden by local shepherds, but once would have worked underground as pit ponies.

Before the war I was mainly brought up in the country and most transport was horse powered, literally. There were the big shire horses used for ploughing and pulling, heavy carts and lighter hunters used for riding and indeed hunting.

We were conscious all the time of the natural world around us and watched for signs indicating changes in the weather. We were also conscious that this was God’s world. As Pope Francis says in ‘Evangelii Gaudium”, “Thanks to our bodies, God has joined us so closely to the world around us  that we can feel the desertification of the soil almost as a physical ailment and the extinction of a species as a painful  disfigurement”. The new encyclical ‘Laudato Si’ has as its subtitle “Sulla cura della casa commune” which translates as, “On the care of our common home” which is what the world God has created for us really is.


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A New Heaven, A new Earth

Yesterday we had St Francis and GKC together. Time to look into Chesterton’s life of the Saint.Early on, Chesterton scans the world into which Francis was born. It could almost be our own:

It was no metaphor to say that [pagan Romans and Greeks] needed a new heaven and a new earth; [Revelation 21:1] for they had really defiled their own earth and even their own heaven …  It was no good telling such people to have a natural religion full of stars and flowers; there was not a flower or even a star that had not been stained. They had to go into the desert where they could find no flowers or even into the cavern where they could see no stars. Into that desert and that cavern the highest human intellect entered for some four centuries; and it was the very wisest thing it could do. Nothing but the stark supernatural stood up for its salvation; if God could not save it, certainly the gods could not.


Francis, Chesterton suggests, was able to contribute to a new understanding of nature as God’s creation. He can sing of Brother Sun, Sister Water, Sister Mother Earth, and even Sister Death.

We have certainly defiled our earth and our atmosphere and our street lamps blot out the stars.

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