JULY NEWSLETTER

Dear Friends,
“They’re all God’s creatures” is a phrase sometimes used to reprove people (like me) who would like to see an end to slugs, snails, lily beetles, rabbits, grey squirrels and wood pigeons in their gardens and fields. Tylden and Stephanie’s monthly column in the Charing Magazine with news from, ‘Our Little Bit of Heaven’ is, on the other hand, an inspiration to those who try to encourage and sustain wildlife in their gardens: butterflies, reptiles, birds, amphibians and more. But things are seldom black and white as I too enjoy the company of birds and butterflies and provide them with numerous feeders and favoured flowers and bushes.
The book of Genesis records God as saying to Adam and Eve, “Have dominion over every living thing that moves upon the earth”. Nevertheless, are we ‘playing God’ if we encourage some species and eliminate others? As the dominant species, do we have the right to act like a Roman Emperor turning our thumbs up or down as ‘pests’ or ‘beneficial creatures’ are paraded before us.
Undoubtedly tensions and debate have increased in recent years as the internet allows access not only to greater knowledge and understanding of our environment but also the publicising of extreme views including the recent targeting of a family butcher in Ashford by allegedly vegans with vitriolic language and threats to the personal safety of the family.

Jesus’ teaching on the subject is limited but, living as he did in a rural environment with largely subsistence farmers and fishermen, he must have been well aware of the delicate balance between feeding his family and earning a living whilst caring for the environment. He was an interventionist in nature, approving of the rooting out of a fig tree, pruning vines that were non-productive, protecting sheep from predators whilst, perhaps more controversially, the curing of a man with demons was at the expense of a herd of pigs which perished in a lake when the displaced demons entered them. However, Jesus was very critical of those who simply gathered larger and larger harvests and built bigger and bigger barns to store grain for greater profit and status in society rather than meeting people’s needs.
We are faced with world-wide environmental issues these days including global warming, plastic oceans and habitat destruction in the tropics yet there are issues much closer to home:
Should badgers be culled to prevent T.B. in cattle?
Is it right to reduce the seal population around Scottish islands so puffins can flourish?
Should grey squirrels be controlled so that reds can be re-introduced as is happening in Kielder Forest?

I’m not offering an opinion as to yes or no – either way I’d probably get an avalanche of emails and tweets! However, as Christians I believe we are custodians rather than owners of the earth and it is right we should listen to the arguments and evidence n both sides and prayerfully seek God’s guidance.
With every blessing,
Philip