Animal stories

Food is the most direct link we have between culture and nature, city and farm folk.  It can serve as the point of interest that unites urbanites with farming concerns. As  we begin to understand that food is not simply fuel, but is in fact a natural, social, cultural and spiritual product, we will also make the effort to foster the practical conditions necessary to protect and preserve ecological and social health. (Norman Wirzba, 2003).1 In the first part of my address at Worcester Cathedral Read more [...]

Food, land and people, and the road to Emmaus

Address given at Worcestershire County Harvest Festival, Worcester Cathedral, 2 October 2016 Dr Peter Carruthers, Honorary Senior Fellow, University of Worcester, Executive Director, Village Hope (Readings - Verses from Psalm 104, Luke 24: 13-35) It's always difficult to know where to start an address like this. So perhaps I might begin by stealing someone else’s lines, and quote the first words of Jorge Bergoglio on his appointment as Pope Francis: “Brothers and sisters, good Read more [...]

The immediate future of farm policy in Britain

The context Farming is currently experiencing many difficulties and the recent history of the Farming Community Network (FCN), a Christian charity devoted to supporting farming people in difficulties across England and Wales, makes their impact very clear. Not to be forgotten are those who are still struggling to recover from bouts of flooding from last year and the year before. In recent twelve months farming income fell by 29%. This has been extremely difficult for most farmers with cash flow Read more [...]

So why did many farmers vote… ?

Most UK farmers depend heavily on support payments. In several years recently the grand total of net farm income, which includes funds to invest as well as to live on, has been similar to the total of subsidy payments. In other words, on average no subsidy, no NFI. On this farm about 25% of the revenue is subsidy. Every time the payment system goes haywire, caseload for organisations such as The Farming Community Network (FCN) rises threefold or more. So why did many farmers embrace Brexit? Read more [...]

Income inequality and religion

This is my third response to my own challenge to apply the ‘Honey and Thistles’ approach to finance and economics. In 2013, celebrated French economist, Thomas Piketty, published his best-selling book, Capital in the Twenty-First Century. Pikketty argues that if the rate of return on capital is greater than the rate of economic growth over the long term,  wealth concentrates and this unequal distribution of wealth causes social and economic instability. He goes on to contend that the Read more [...]

Money and power

This is my second response to my own challenge to apply the ‘Honey and Thistles’ approach more widely, in this case to finance and economics and offers some biblical reflections on the relationship between money and power. “If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat.” (2 Thessalonians 3:10). Paul’s immediate concern here was with certain members of the Thessalonian church who were idling about, mere dossers, interfering with other people’s affairs and living off the earnings Read more [...]

Jesus and money

This is the first of several responses to my own challenge to apply the 'Honey and Thistles' approach more widely, in this case to finance and economics. It is often said that Jesus spoke more about money and economics than He did about church! Most of His parables concerned money, farming, business or debt. Many of His miracles were ‘economic miracles’. And, a good part of his teaching addressed our relationship with money, wealth and material possessions. So, as good a starting point as Read more [...]

EU! In or out?

Perhaps I should begin by saying that I write as one of those who has been told that they are unlikely to receive their BPS payment before the end of January 2016! However, since I have no idea whether the reasons for this are to be found in Brussels or London I do not think I will let it influence what follows! This is a mixture of the practical, the narrowly political and the moral: a difficult mix for Christian discernment. As the NFU has pointed out in its paper 'UK Farming's relationship Read more [...]