Making Peace with the Land – review
Making Peace with the Land: God’s call to reconcile with Creation, by Fred Bahnson and Norman Wirzba, October 2012. IVP Books, 178 pages, ISBN 978-0-8308-3457-0. RRP £9.93
Writers Fred Bahnson (an agriculturalist) and Norman Wirzba a theology professor at Duke Divinity School contribute alternate chapters of this carefully-written fact-packed and fast-paced 180-page book.
I will freely admit that time after time I was left wide-eyed at the knowledge contained within its covers, especially Bahnson’s reference to “some divine agro forestry advice” in Isaiah 41:19 regarding the Acacia tree, the Acacia being a tree whose deep tap roots reach the water table and whose nodules fix atmospheric nitrogen. Bahnson also writes of the Maringa Tree, a tree that grows in many tropical areas, a tree whose small leaves contain, gram for gram, seven times the vitamin C of oranges, four times the vitamin A of carrots, four times the calcium of milk, three times the potassium of bananas and two times the protein of yoghurt. As this book shows time and time again, God’s abundance of nature is there, just waiting to be discovered.
Both writers complement each other perfectly as their chapters cover Reconciliation with the Land, Learning to See, Reconciliation with Christ, Field, Table and Communion, Reconciliation through Eating, and Bread for the Whole Body of Christ. Each chapter is biblically ground, but not in an overbearing or preaching way, more in ways of reference to the situation of and the answers to the environmental problems that we face today. So often when reading environmental books I feel a sense of guilt for my distant behaviour, or “ecological amnesia” as the writers gently put it, yet after reading this I felt a sense of hope and a renewing of my enthusiasm, an enthusiasm that I must admit sometimes runs perilously very close to empty.
As the Prologue heading says, “For God so loved the soil [that] God planted a garden in Eden”, God the gardener indeed. Powerful visions from a thoroughly recommended and very powerful book, with its invitation to join God and, with Him, get our hands dirty as we renew and restore creation.
Rev’d Peter Doodes