From The Rev’d Nick Ktorides – November 2020

Well, time flies, as they say. With autumn or the ‘fall’, the earth’s natural decomposing – self fertilisation, is the order of the day. The seasons, distinct one from another, come faithfully, cyclically and annually around, followed by the migrating birds that come and go along with them.  And it’s this continual change happening all around us, (and looking in the mirror, unfortunately to us) that flies, rather than time itself.

I was struck by John Betjeman’s ‘Harvest Hymn’, a re-telling of ‘We plough the fields and scatter’:

We spray the fields and scatter
the poison on the ground,
So that no wicked wild flowers
Upon our farm be found.
We like whatever helps us
To line our purse with pence;
The twenty-four hour broiler-house
And neat electric fence…

And in place of ‘All good gifts around us, are sent from heaven above,’ JB’s chorus has become:

All concrete sheds around us

And Jaguars in the yard….are from our working hard.

While a tad cynical, I think the late Poet Laureate strikes a cautionary note, not with farmers who dirty their hands through working the land, but with the Big corporations and Big business. Many of these conglomerates have thrown out the idea of the wise stewardship of the earth and its valuable resources. These are often replaced with profit-driven genetically engineered foods, crops and agrochemicals. These, the evidence appears to show, are to the detriment of the earth and to its poorest communities.

Whether we have the all-knowing wisdom of a creator God or the wisdom inherent in millions of years evolution in mind, it seems foolhardy and dangerous to try to better such wisdom. Introducing genetically-modified foods appears to be part of an agenda, to play at being God. Today’s agricultural pesticides are, I understand, designed to kill all living things except crops that have been genetically modified to withstand them.

In these times of increasing food insecurity, let’s heed the concerns of JB’s hymn and return to the time-proven cycles of nature and away from the vicious cycle of large-scale industrial agriculture. And in so doing be enabled to return to the hymn’s original sentiments – “All good gifts around us, are sent from heaven above; then thank the Lord, O thank the Lord. for all his love”.

Nick Ktorides