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The Living Landscape – How to read and understand it Patrick Whitefield

Permanent Publications, 2009 ISBN 987-1-85623-043-8 £19.95

Those in rural ministry need to know how to read and understand the context for their ministry. This is not limited to the human condition – the people are but part of the mission field. As Whitefield reminds us: ‘all four landscape-forming factors, rocks, soil, climate and living things, are constantly interacting. The rocks affect the land form, the land form affects the climate, the rock and climate affect the soil, the soil and climate affect the vegetation, the vegetation affects the soil and climate, and all these affect the agricultural potential of the land. This in turn affects how the land has been used by people, whether as woodland, rough grazing, grassland or arable.’ We are reminded too that ‘everything changes, everything’s connected, and everything has multiple causes.’

This impressive and captivating volume focuses more on the understanding of the natural world than on subsequent settlement patterns, with the chapters on the history of the landscape and on roads and paths the most useful in this respect. The index and colour photographs are additional benefits of this study.

Victorian clergy were amongst the best observers of nature and included many scientists of their day. A better understanding and appreciation of the natural world, how it responds to our interventions and how we depend on it for our health and wellbeing may become more important as we move into a post- industrial age. 

Jeremy Martineau

On the Road … a journey through the Bible for migrants United Bible Societies, 2008 ISBN 978-28530-09522

Without a doubt, this is an excellent resource. This short illustrated booklet is prepared with two groups in mind: primarily migrants themselves, facing life in a new and strange culture; but also churches and Christians, helping them understand and interpret the experiences of these migrants.

Seven potential steps in a migrant’s experience are identified: Why Leave? A Difficult Journey; Seeking a Place; Are All Means Acceptable? Finding a Place to Settle; Is a Return Possible? God is Close to Everyone. These steps encompass 33 bite-sized sub-sections suitable for solo meditation or group discussion, each of which summarises crucial biblical perspectives on the events that may well find such people on our doorsteps, and which earths these in the testimony of real migrants. No assumptions are made about ‘the average’ migrant.

Decisions are being made about translation into the languages of some of the key migrant groups in Britain, so it will be truly accessible for the migrants among us, be they refugees, asylum seekers or searching for employment. But in English it will be of real value to those Christians who care about the circumstances of migrants, who wish to reflect theologically and biblically on their circumstances and who wish to minister amongst and alongside them. 

Simon Martin

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