Here we will give details of some reviews of Cherishing the Earth:
1) Review Published in Third Way magazine (May 2008, page 41) and reproduced here with permission of Third Way.
I can almost hear some readers saying ‘Surely we don’t need another Christian book about the environment?’ Well, actually I believe we do- this one. The consensus that increasing atmospheric CO2 concentration is causing global warming has spawned an industry of its own- writing about climate change and what to do about it, sometimes from a specifically Christian perspective. However, this emphasis diverts attention from the fact that long before climate change came into focus, all was not well in the relationship between humankind and the earth. It would be catastrophic if a right focus on climate change led us to ignore this.
Hence Cherishing the Earth. It is not just another Christian book about the environment. The authors acknowledge that our failure to cherish the earth is multi-faceted. And this is a positive book, not dominated by doom and gloom- although the seriousness of our current situation is not underplayed.
The authors are a husband and wife team: Martin is an environmental biologist and Margot is ordained in the Church of England, an ideal combination making for excellent balance. The theological angle of the book is as important as the science, informing our environmental concerns with a biblical understanding which is much deeper than many of us, including myself, possess. As well as passages dealing with specific biblical themes such as creation or fall, the discussion is embedded in biblical wisdom. Throughout the book, the writing is relaxed, accessible and quite personal, often drawing on firsthand knowledge.
The book flows from the creation to the promise of a new heaven and a new earth, taking in such themes as the fall, humankind’s uneasy relationship with the creation, stewardship, caring for all God’s children and the possibility of effective action at all levels, from individual to global. Areas of debate, such as the possible contribution of GM crops in a world of climate change, are dealt with even-handedly. There are topics where individual readers may differ from the authors’ position. I, for example, would love a discussion with Margot on the specific environmental effects of the fall, while others may question the linkage between eschatological promise and motivation for action on the environment.
Finally, Cherishing the Earth is not a strident book. It lacks the polemic of certain other texts and is refreshingly free from the ‘greener-than-thou’ self-righteousness exhibited by some who write on environmental issues (although we are left in no doubt that the authors are indeed environmental activists). Unlike some Christian authors, the Hodsons give credit where credit is due and do not underplay the effectiveness of those of other faiths or of no faith at all. Overall, the content shows us that the earth is indeed the Lord’s, while the inclusive and encouraging style moves us to action, action for which help is provided in the form of useful suggestions for groups and individuals.
John Bryant is Professor Emeritus of Cell and Molecular Biology at Exeter University. His most recent book, The Eukaryotic Cell Cycle, was published in December 2007.
2) Review Published in the Church Times (30 May 2008, p22), and reproduced here with the permission of the Church Times.
Margot and Martin Hodson, a university chaplain and a scientist, hold that the whole of the Bible is a story "of God's faithfulness to creation." When the Bible is read from that perspective, new truths become apparent. The story of Joseph is a climate-change story; Noah was a visionary; the story of Moses is one of skilled leadership transforming people into people of God. Jesus gives us a new way of living; Paul provides the cosmic understanding of Jesus. In a wide-ranging book with a strong message of hope, the Hodsons emphasise that we need to refocus our lives away from materialism and towards care for the poor and the Earth.
John Madeley writes about economic and social-development issues.
Martin and Margot Hodson have written a book about interconnectedness: the interconnectedness of how we live and our faith, and the interconnectedness between the words and the world of the stories of the Bible and the present world. Our actions whether personal, as a community, as local or national government or internationally are interdependent and affect the whole of creation. They write to encourage Christians to take the threat humans pose to God’s creation seriously.
Cherishing the Earth
is full of information about the planet – its structure, atmosphere, life forms, and habitats, and about the threats to the life of the planet as we know it. Facts, in a not too overwhelming format, are interspersed with theological reflections – Margot is an ordained Anglican priest and Martin a researcher in environmental biology at Oxford University
– and with anecdotes and stories both from the Hodsons and from others about the effects of environmental changes past, present and future on lives and habitats here in the UK and abroad.
The first part of the book sets the scene describing our planet's systems, climate change, habitat depletion, peak oil, food shortages and much more. The second half of the book following the same format of information, theological reflection and anecdote concentrates on ways individuals, communities and governments can do something. The authors include plenty of practical examples for individual and community action, and encouragement for national and international action. Included within these chapters is the case (in a simplified form) for and against a number of controversial environmental propositions – GM, nuclear power, carbon taxes for example. The theological reflections contained in each chapter draw on many sources, Christian and others, to underline the connectedness of all things under God and the way that we should be acting.
This is very much a book about hope – about how as Christians we cannot despair and if ‘we refocus our lives away from materialism and towards caring for the poor and the Earth that we will find a way forward’. I particularly liked the rebutting of the ‘disposable paper plate theology’ (in which the proposition that we don't need to do anything about environmental degradation because God is going to make a new heaven and a new earth and that if we do nothing or even better contribute to the degradation of the earth this event will come all the sooner). The authors write that ‘if we take up the environmental challenge we will find it is the vital missing element in the work of Christ’s kingdom.’ Amen to that.
A list of useful websites and a subject index round off the book. I would have liked a bibliography as well rather than having to scour through the plentiful notes for book and other references. All in all a good, and hope filled, read with useful and easily digested facts and figures (such that you could remember and use to persuade a sceptical friend) together with encouragement to action - we can all do something however small, and be the voice of hope to a despairing world in the present environmental crisis.
Deirdre Munro is a landscape architect working (part-time) for an east London local authority, and a Christian activist (in a smaller way than she would wish) in areas of peace and justice - in which category she would put activism on the environment.
Note- we are very grateful to this reviewer for her very positive review. There is just one slight error- Martin works at Oxford Brookes University not Oxford University (an easy mistake to make!).
4) Review Published in Countrywide Care, the Journal of Christian Rural Concern, (Spring/Summer 2008, p7) and reproduced here with the permission of Countrywide Care.
Most Countrywide Care readers will be aware that Martin (CRES
Course Director) and Margot Hodson (Chaplain of Jesus College, Oxford, and a director of JRI
) are enthusiasts for the cause of Christian creation care. That enthusiasm pulses through the pages of this informative and stimulating book. It is written in a popular style, information and ideas sweetened by stories drawn from their own experience of working and reflecting as Christian environmentalists. Martin provides the science, and Margot the theology.
The book moves from a wide-ranging exposition of the growing environmental cris into a longer, more practical section, which I found gripping. I didn't want to put the book down. Controversial issues, such as GM crops, are discussed in a balanced way, though they have little time for 'trash the earth' fundamentalists. They are clear that overpopulation is the root cause of damage to the planet and a main influence on climate change and biodiversity loss.
The footnotes provide a valuable resource of literature and especially, websites. The book is well illustrated with good colour photos, many by the Hodsons. I think a case can be made for using Cherishing the earth as the CRES basic course book. Certainly it should be essential reading.
Paul Rathbone is a retired Anglican clergyman from Thirsk, Yorkshire, UK.
5) Review Published on Surefish web site (Books of the Month- 1 May 2008), a charity associated with Christian Aid, and reproduced here with the permission of Surefish.
For those that need to be convinced of the Christian case for Cherishing the Earth, the Hodsons provide a solid argument. Explaining the problem in decent depth, (Margot is a theologian, Martin a scientist), they also review the church’s relation with creation through the ages.They provide strong biblical referencing for each subject as well as tapping into Christian initiatives around the globe.
My only quibble is with their suggestions for change. Too often their answer is simplistic- oil prices will soon impede unsustainable behaviour. This seems to lack the personal and political responsibility needed to lessen our addiction to oil.
Charlotte Haines-Lyon is a freelance writer and full time mother.
(We thank the reviewer for her comments, but not too surprisingly the Hodsons disagree with the "quibble"!)
6) Review Published in Reform Magazine (July 2008).
In this review
Averil Stedeford looks at Both Cherishing the Earth
and Planetwise by Dave Bookless.
7) Review Published on Armchair Interviews web site. As far as we are aware this review by Alex McGilvery is the first to come from North America. A very positive one as well! The review has also been reproduced on Amazon.com
8) Review Published on Ecotheology web site (May 2009). Steve Bishop's review is generally positive. "It provides a useful introduction to light green thinking for Christians and one that could, because of its gentle tones, usefully be given to your local green-sceptic vicar."
9) Review Published on In the Library Reviews "Most impressive about this book is the seamless integration of God's ancient wisdom and creation's current needs. Concern over the enormous environmental issues affecting the globe empowered the authors to share a path of purpose, which leads to viable solutions and hope. This book reflects their own personal journey and records the effects of applying scriptural thinking to their actions. Their commitment to the environment is seen in every sentence, while their respect for the Creator provides the underpinning of all that they do and say." Joyce Handzo
10) Review Published on the Eagles Vantage Point (2009). "This is a truly excellent book. It ought to become the standard resource helping us to get our ideas and actions straightened out in the thorny areas of climate change, environmental degradation, and our response to it as Christians. Get it! Steve Motyer
11) Review Published on the Celtic Frog Reviews (Oct. 2010) "Cherishing the Earth is a marvelous book that gives a call for Christians everywhere to get involved in the preservation of our environment. The authors Martin and Margot Hodson bring a wide range of scientific and theological learning to the debate of whether Christians are called to the work of saving the planet."
12) Review Published on Didcot Green Team blog (Jan. 2011) "There are a lot of books available about Christianity and the environment. What is different about this one is that one of the writers (Martin) is an environmental biologist and the other (Margot) a vicar, so it brings together two different, complementary perspectives." Penny Dakin Kiley