Welcome to the blog of Martin and Margot Hodson! You can find out a lot about us by visiting our web site at www.hodsons.org We do not think we will use this blog very often, but we will use it to let people have details of some of our publications our speaking engagements and conferences. Some of these things seem better on a blog than on a web page, and this looks a bit easier to do as well.

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

Don't Stop Thinking About Tomorrow

From one IPCC report to the next, a personal reflection

Back in February 2007 on the day that the physical science section of the 4th IPCC report came out I was teaching environmental ethics at Oxford Brookes University. My wife, Margot, was then Chaplain of  Jesus College, Oxford. She had been asked by the BBC to take a special service to coincide with the publication of the 4th report for BBC Sunday Worship on Radio 4. The theme was "Creation held together in Christ" and the preacher was Sir John Houghton. We all gathered early Sunday morning in the Jesus College Chapel. The choir were amazing, with wonderful hymns, and the message was crystal clear. We even had a special recording from Rev Rich Cizik, then Vice-President of the National Association of Evangelicals, and a tireless worker in the churches in the United States for action on climate change. Margot had bags of appreciative post after the service. We wrote up this story and the background to it in our 2008 book "Cherishing the Earth." The 4th IPCC report made it very clear that we had a lot to do, and that the time available was short.

Hope for Planet Earth team 2008. Sir John Houghton is to the left of the poster and I am on the far right
I had been fairly active on climate change before the 4th IPCC report, but I don't think I had quite envisaged how much the topic would dominate my next few years. In the summer of 2007, I became involved in the planning for a large UK wide tour on climate change aimed partly at Christian audiences. The consortium behind the "Hope for Planet Earth" tour was the John Ray Initiative (JRI), A Rocha UK, Tearfund and Share Jesus International (SJI). In the end I became the tour scientist, and put together the science section of the overall presentation with Sir John. In February and March of 2008 we spent four weeks on the road around England with schools presentations in the day and church groups in the evenings. It was exhausting, but very worthwhile. We repeated the whole thing again early in 2009, and by the end I had clocked up around a hundred climate change presentations over the two years.
It turned out that 2009 was a significant year for us as Margot began a new job in charge of the Haddenham benefice in Buckinghamshire. We soon found ourselves involved in the local Transition group, and I answered the questions after several showings of "The Age of Stupid" the climate change documentary drama film. Late in 2009 activity on climate change ramped up in all sorts of ways. We saw "Climategate" come and go, we went on "The Wave" climate change march in London. And then there was the huge disappointment that was Copenhagen United Nations climate change meeting. It is fair to say that before Copenhagen many environmentalists were hopeful that we could "solve" the climate change problem, and that afterwards hope tended to evaporate.
Some things happen by chance, or maybe you could say God plans them rather well. In the autumn of 2010, Margot attended the "Society for the Study of Christian Ethics" meeting in Cambridge, which was on the theme of "Climate Change". She got talking with Ruth Valerio of A Rocha UK. Both had been theological speakers on the "Hope for Planet Earth" tours and elsewhere. They often follow scientists like myself with the idea of providing "Christian hope" after the rather dour environmental message. As time had gone on, and particularly following Copenhagen, that hope had become less proximate and more eschatological. In other words it had changed from "we can fix it" to "it will all work out OK in the end". So hope was running a little thin. Thus began the "Environment and Hope" project which filled a lot of my time from 2011 to 2013. The first thing Ruth and Margot did was to gather a small meeting of theologians, scientists and activists in Oxford in October 2011 to thrash out some ideas. I did a short talk on the present environmental situation to stimulate the thinking. After that we decided to go for a bigger meeting at High Leigh Conference Centre in May 2012. There we had 60 people, many of whom are involved in communicating the news about climate change and other environmental problems to Christian audiences. Again I did a talk, and this time I was joined by the theologian, Richard Bauckham, and Andy Atkins, Executive Director of Friends of the Earth in the UK. We really felt that we needed to publish all this material, and it was Richard Bauckham who suggested that it could go into a special issue of Anvil, the theological journal.
We had deliberately kept the "Environment and Hope" project broad in its remit. So climate change was in there, but it was not the only environmental issue we covered. However, whilst we were in the middle of the project an opportunity came up to really focus on climate change. Andy Kingston-Smith and his colleagues from Redcliffe College in Gloucester were planning their "Carnival Kingdom" book and they asked us to look at "Climate Justice". So quite a lot of the summer of 2012 went on that. I covered the science, the policy and the action, and Margot contributed some theology. The book appeared in early 2013. Almost as soon as I had finished "Climate Justice" I moved on to helping Margot, who was guest editor of the Anvil edition, get it all together. We just made the deadline, getting it in on 31st December 2012 in time to go to a New Year party! But then Anvil hit some delays. We did some updating in the summer of 2013 though, and the whole volume went live on 5th September 2013 around three years after Ruth and Margot kicked off the whole process. Crucially it was out in time for the release of the 5th IPCC report.
On Monday 23rd September 2013 the scientists from the IPCC gathered in Stockholm to deliberate on the final version of the Physical Science component of the 5th report. Meanwhile on the evening of the same day we were holding a rather different gathering, the official launch of the "Environment and Hope" issue of Anvil, at Ripon College Cuddesdon, nr. Oxford. We knew that the summary for policy makers for the 5th report would come out on the following Friday. Where were we on that Friday? Well six months before I had booked to see Fleetwood Mac at the O2 stadium in London. Rather a different musical style to that in Jesus College Chapel at the time of the 4th report in 2007! It was a brilliant, brilliant concert. The highlight for me, and for many others, was the appearance of Christine McVie to play with her former band, for only the second time in fifteen years (she had also played the previous Wednesday). She only played one song, her famous "Don't Stop". The lyrics of the chorus go like this:
Don't stop, thinking about tomorrow,
Don't stop, it'll soon be here,
It'll be, better than before,
Yesterday's gone, yesterday's gone.

Don't stop, thinking about tomorrow. Throughout Friday 27th I had been picking up the news on my phone about the 5th IPCC report. Once I heard "Don't stop", I just could not get the words out of my mind. I should explain that the song is actually about the breakup of Christine's marriage many years before, but those words, "Don't stop, thinking about tomorrow", just kept nagging at me. It just seemed an incredible thing for me to hear on that particular day. And they are the reason I wrote this blog. The day after the concert we returned home, and my first job was to edit the comments that Sir John had sent me concerning the 5th report and to get them out on the web. And the following Thursday I was in Aylesbury speaking about the 5th IPCC report. I don't think I will stop, well not anytime soon! And I would encourage anyone who reads this to "Don't stop, thinking about tomorrow."

Martin Hodson (8th October 2013)


Sunday, 5 May 2013

Our Publications on Christianity and the Environment

Martin and Margot in Austria
Our Publications on Christianity and the Environment
For the past few years we have been writing and publishing quite a range of publications in the general area of "Christianity and the Environment". From the more academic to the more popular, and from books, booklets, and briefings to Bible studies and even a DVD! We thought it might be useful for people to have one spot which collects them all together and gives some details of how you can obtain each one if you want it (some are not easy to find!). We will arrange the publications by date:

Margot started by linking her former work on the Jewish Roots of Christianity (e.g. A Feast of Seasons) with thinking about the environment:
Margot R. Hodson (2004) Environmental Christianity: insights from our Jewish Heritage. JRI Briefing Papers, No. 13, Cheltenham: The John Ray Initiative.
This briefing can be downloaded from the JRI web site and paper copies can be ordered from the JRI Office. A reasonable level of theological knowledge would be an advantage in reading this briefing.

Margot was asked by Prof. Sam Berry to write a short epilogue article for his latest book:
Margot R. Hodson  (2007) Creative harmony: Isaiah’s vision of a sustainable future. in R. J. Berry, ed. When Enough is Enough, A Christian Framework for Environmental Sustainability. Leicester: IVP. p.169-177.
This book can be purchased from Amazon UK. A reasonable level of theological knowledge would be an advantage in reading this chapter.

In 2006 we both attended an important meeting at the International Baptist Theological Seminary (IBTS) in Prague where the aim was to consider what might go into the syllabus of a Bible College in terms of environmental theology.  John Weaver and Margot edited the resulting volume:
John Weaver and Margot R. Hodson eds. (2007) The Place of Environmental Theology: a guide for seminaries, colleges and universities. Oxford: Whitley Trust, & Prague: IBTS. The book can be downloaded HERE. Within this book Martin wrote a chapter:
Martin J. Hodson (2007) Environmental theology courses in Europe- Where are we now? in John Weaver and Margot R. Hodson eds. The Place of Environmental Theology: a guide for seminaries, colleges and universities. Oxford: Whitley Trust, & Prague: IBTS. pp. 107-120. Download HERE.
The book can be ordered from the JRI Office. The book is at a fairly academic level and would not be recommended for the general reader.

The pinnacle of our work so far in this whole area. Many years brewing, but worth it, was our book:
Martin J. Hodson and Margot R. Hodson (2008) Cherishing the Earth. How to care for God’s Creation. Oxford: Monarch.
The book can be ordered from the JRI Office, from Amazon (States) and Amazon UK  Intended for the general Christian reader. We gathered all the reviews we could find onto one page.

Late in 2008 we both spoke at the annual Agricultural Christian Fellowship meeting. Margot gave the following paper which was written up for a Rusource Briefing:
Margot R. Hodson (2009) Theology of the Land. Rusource Briefing 776.
If you would like a copy of Margot's paper Contact Us.

In the spring of 2008 and 2009, Martin went on two national "Hope for Planet Earth" tours of the UK with JRI, A Rocha UK, Tearfund and SJI. We visited schools in the days and churches and Christian groups in the evenings, and covered a total of 35 towns and cities. Martin was the tour scientist and did all of the science presentations on the tours. As a spin-off from the tours we made two DVDs, one intended for churches (with Bible studies and theology) and one intended for schools (with lesson plans and ethics). Martin contributed the section on "The Problem", basically a brief look at the science of climate change.
Martin J. Hodson (2009) The Problem. In Hope for Planet Earth. A Christian Response to Climate Change. A multimedia DVD resource for churches. (eds E. Morrice & F. Moffat). SJI, London.
The DVDs can be ordered from the JRI Office. The Church DVD is intended for the general Christian public, and the schools DVD is aimed at 15/16 years and above.

Margot was asked by the Oxford Centre for Mission Studies (OCMS) to write a chapter on environmental mission for their book on holistic mission:
Margot R. Hodson (2010) Storm clouds and mission: creation care and environmental crisis. in B.E, Woolnough and W. Ma eds. Holistic Mission. God's Plan for God's People. Oxford: Regnum Books International. pp. 212-226.
The book can be purchased from OCMS or downloaded for free HERE. If you would like a copy of Margot's paper Contact Us. Not a difficult read, but intended mostly for those interested in missiology.

Margot studied geography for her first degree, and has has long had an interest in Isaiah. These factors came together in her Grove Booklet:
Margot R. Hodson (2011) Uncovering Isaiah’s Environmental Ethics. Grove Booklet, Ethics series, E161. Cambridge: Grove Publications.
More details about this booklet and how to get a copy can be found HERE. The booklet is set at a fairly high theological level.

Martin and Margot spoke at the big "Faith and the Future of the Countryside" in 2010, and this booklet came out of this work:
Martin J. Hodson and Margot R. Hodson  (2011) Climate Change, Faith and Rural Communities. Agriculture and Theology Project, Northampton.
The booklet can be ordered from the JRI Office or downloaded for free HERE. Not a difficult read, but note that it is very definitely focused on the rural areas of the United Kingdom.

Martin helped supervise Lizzie Rushton's undergraduate thesis and the briefing arose from this work:
Elizabeth A.C. Rushton and Martin J. Hodson (2012) Faith, environmental values and understanding: a case study involving Church of England ordinands. JRI Briefing Papers No. 25, Cheltenham: The John Ray Initiative.
This briefing can be downloaded from the JRI web site and paper copies can be ordered from the JRI Office. This is more like a social science research paper, and has quite a lot of statistical analysis. But you can avoid all that if you wish to get an idea of the overall conclusions! Obviously set in a UK context.

Margot was asked by Bible Reading Fellowship (BRF) to contribute 12 Bible Studies on the Environment and Bible for their booklet covering the early part of 2013:
Margot R. Hodson (2013) Environment and the Bible. in L.Cherrett ed. Guidelines, Bible study for today’s ministry and mission, Vol 29 part 1.
Fortunately, BRF decided to release Margot's studies as a FREE SAMPLE in PDF format. If that does not work Contact Us. These studies are intended as an introductory set  for people who are new to thinking about this area, but could be a valuable resource for anyone.

Our friends from Redcliffe College, Gloucester, UK asked if we would write a chapter for them on Climate Justice, and this was the result:
Martin J. Hodson and Margot R. Hodson (2013) Climate Justice: contemporary developments in science, policy, action and theology. In Carnival Kingdom - biblical justice for global communities. Eds. M. Hoek, J. Ingleby, C. Kingston-Smith, & A. Kingston-Smith. 125-143. Wide Margin Publishers.
Our chapter can be downloaded for free and details of how to order the whole book are HERE.The book is intended for those interested in mission/justice, but our chapter has a useful summary of the science and policy on climate change up to August 2012, which may have wider use.

Margot started a project on "Environment and Hope" with Ruth Valerio in 2010. This led to a small consultation and then a larger conference. After the conference we were approached by Anvil theological journal, who asked if we could produce a special edition on the topic. So in September 2013 the edition we co-edited appeared HERE. This is written at a fairly academic level.
Margot wrote an editorial for the volume: Margot R. Hodson (2013) Discovering a robust hope for life on a fragile planet. Anvil 29(1), 1-6. Free download HERE
Martin also had a paper in the journal looking at our current environmental situation, that was the "setup" paper for the following papers on theology and action: Martin J. Hodson (2013) Losing hope? The environmental crisis today. Anvil 29(1), 7-23. Free download HERE.

Sierra Nevada, Spain
On paper this was not quite as productive as in some previous years, but we had a three month sabbatical from August to October (mostly in Spain and Portugal), and the fruits of that will be apparent in 2015. However, we did produce a few short blog articles which appeared in 2014.
Martin wrote several posts for the John Ray Initiative blog:
1) Genetically Modified Animals HERE
2) Meat, Climate Change and all that HERE
3) Review of "The Collapse of Western Civilization": Naomi Oreskes and Eric M. Conway HERE

Margot was asked by Christian Concern for One World to write an article for them:
Margot R. Hodson (2014) Why I Care about the Environment. Download HERE.

In the last few years there has been a growing campaign suggesting that institutions should get rid of their investments in fossil fuels. This started in the States, but has spread worldwide. Many churches and denominations have divested, but some have still to decide (notably the Church of England). Operation Noah have led the campaign in the United Kingdom for churches to divest. We were very pleased to be asked to contribute a short article on the ethics of divestment to join a distinguished group of authors looking at this topic. Links to the articles coming out of this can be found HERE. Our own article is: Martin J. Hodson and Margot R. Hodson (2015) Is it ethical to invest in fossil fuels? How can environmental ethics inform our decision making? HERE

Margot was asked to write an article for Preach Magazine which was producing a special edition on "Preaching for the Planet" in Spring 2015. The whole magazine is HERE.
Margot's contribution is: Margot R. Hodson (2015) Preaching for the planet- key Bible passages. Preach Magazine (Spring 2015), 20-24. HERE

Martin was asked to review Michael Northcott's "A Political Theology of Climate Change" for Anvil Journal (March 2015), and the result is on p. 76 of the book reviews section. HERE

We had been working on the whole area of climate scepticism really since the Copenhagen climate change conference in 2009. But we finally managed to finish off the work on our 2014 sabbatical and here it is:
Martin J. Hodson and Margot R. Hodson (2015) The Ethics of Climatic Scepticism. Grove Books Ltd., Cambridge.
Details of the contents, where you can purchase a copy, and the formats that it is available in are HERE.

Coming in September 2015: "A Christian Guide to Environmental Issues".

Monday, 15 April 2013

Bible Reading Fellowship studies on Environment

BRF Bible Studies

 Last year Margot Hodson was asked to write twelve Bible Studies on Environment for the Bible Reading Fellowship (BRF) in the UK. The studies were published in a booklet intended for use in January-April 2013. But the advantage of these studies is that they are not fixed to particular dates. We have now found that BRF are using the Environment studies as a FREE sample which can be downloaded in PDF format (you need to register, but there is no charge!). The studies are:

Old Testament
1 A good creation
2 Humans and nature
3 Rest and relationship
4 Called to the land and called to justice
5 Going beyond limits
6 The earth mourns

New Testament
1 Born into his own creation
2 The miraculous catch of fish
3 Creation groaning
4 Held together in Christ
5 Creation made new
6 Our gospel hope

These are intended as an introductory set of studies for people who have little or no previous experience in this topic area, but even "experts" will find something new!

Saturday, 13 April 2013

Functional Biology of Plants- One Year On

One Year On

It is one year today (13 Apr 2012) since the official publication date of Functional Biology of Plants by Martin J. Hodson and John A. Bryant. What has happened concerning our book in that time? Quite a lot actually!
John had published several textbooks before, but this was a new experience for Martin, and we both had no idea how the book would be received, and what would happen to it. We are now in a digital age, and Functional Biology of Plants was available on Kindle and other electronic formats as well as in the traditional hardback and paperback versions. But as we will see a lot of the publicity and marketing for the book has been through various on-line means. But before then:


We were fortunate to have two opportunities to celebrate the publication of our book within the first few months of it coming out. First Martin met with John Bryant when they both attended the same conference in May 2012 (bottom middle photo in the collage above). Then another little celebration! This time in Oxford at Cafe Noir for a nice meal in the company of David Evans (Head of the Department of Biological and Medical Sciences at Oxford Brookes University) and Rachel Wade from Wiley-Blackwell (who took the photo: l. to r. Martin Hodson, David Evans and John Bryant).

The Facebook Page

Martin had quite a bit of experience running various Facebook pages, and this seemed an ideal time to try it out with our book. As far as we know nobody has seriously tried to market a Plant Science textbook, or indeed any other textbook, using Facebook before. We set up the page on 1st March 2012, over a month before the publication date. Martin and John invested a little in marketing the page, and we soon started to gain interest. Our publishers, Wiley-Blackwell saw that it was working and generously added to the overall marketing pot. The page grew and grew, and is now heading towards 5,000 likes, many of which are from India. John and I regularly update the page with photos, stories and the latest from the world of plant science. If you have not visited the page go HERE.


 So far reviews have come from three sources:
1) Amazon UK have published eight reviews. These have been excellent with seven 5 star and only one 4 star. The latter was really wanting a gardening book, so it is not surprising he felt he needed a brain transplant after reading our book! There was also one further 5 star review in Amazon Japan. Unfortunately, none of the UK or Japanese reviews have translated across to Amazon in the USA.
2) The review with the biggest impact was by Choice who selected our book for their award list: “Students who are new to plant science will be quite well served, as will graduate students and others needing to develop fuller understandings and perspectives on their research.” – Choice, 1 November 2012. This prestigious list contains approximately 10% of the 7,000 titles reviewed by Choice in a year. Ours was one of 24 Wiley titles selected.
3) Reviews in academic journals have been predictably slower, and so far we only know of one. "Martin Hodson and John Bryant have written the most captivating and elementary textbook on modern plant biology. It might be read from cover to cover by anyone seeking an introduction to the subject, but seems especially suited to high school, undergraduate and vocational courses." Philip White  in Experimental Agriculture. 
So as good as it can get!

Old Gang mine in Swaledale in North Yorkshire, UK.
Other Good Publicity

In addition to the above our book has had some other good publicity during the past year.
Before we were even published there was a short note in AoB Blog.
Dr Anne Osterrieder has been a good friend of our book. She mentioned our Facebook Page (see above) as an example of good practice in using Facebook in her talk (slide 13) on enhancing the on line presence of scientists at the SEB meeting in Salzburg, Austria. She also interviewed both Martin Hodson and John Bryant for her blog, giving good plugs for the book along the way.
Martin was asked to write a review for The Biochemist Magazine on "Metal toxicity and tolerance in plants" and the editor kindly suggested a small plug (and photo of the book cover) within the article.

NEXT YEAR- watch this space!

Wednesday, 3 April 2013

The Earth is the Lord’s

The Earth is the Lord’s
Dr Martin Hodson will be giving a workshop entitled "The Theology of the Land" at the South West Rural Conference 2013 which will take place at Bicton College, Budleigh Salterton on Wednesday May 1st 2013 (10am-4pm). The conference is organised by the Joint Rural Issues Group of the Dioceses of Exeter and of Truro, and the Methodist Districts of Cornwall and of Plymouth and Exeter.

The main speakers are: Prof Sir John Marsh, Prof Michael Winter and Rt Rev Michael Langrish. The other workshop will be organised by Dr Tim Gibson.

DOWNLOAD a leaflet giving more information and details of booking from the Arthur Rank Centre.

Saturday, 23 March 2013

Carnival Kingdom

Carnival Kingdom - biblical justice for global communities
Edited by Marijke Hoek, Jonathan Ingleby, 
Carol Kingston-Smith, and Andy Kingston-Smith.
We were pleased to contribute the Climate Justice chapter to this (2013) book:
HODSON, M.J. & HODSON, M.R. (2013) Climate Justice: contemporary developments in science, policy, action and theology. In Carnival Kingdom - biblical justice for global communities. Eds. M. Hoek, J. Ingleby, C. Kingston-Smith, & A. Kingston-Smith. 125-143. Wide Margin Publishers.

For more details go to Carnival Kingdom

Welcome to our Blog


Welcome to the blog of Martin and Margot Hodson!
You can find out a lot about us by visiting our web site at www.hodsons.org We do not think we will use this blog very often, but we will use it to let people have details of some of our publications our speaking engagements and conferences. Some of these things seem better on a blog than on a web page, and this looks a bit easier to do as well.
In case you were wondering the snowy picture of us was taken in Wells, Somerset, UK in January 2013.