With the planet's environment apparently going down the tubes, you might wonder how the tale of a small Christian organisation could be `a story of hope for God's earth', as this book's subtitle proclaims. But this little gem most definitely is that - and a lot more besides. 'Kingfisher's Fire' is actually the second instalment of the story of A Rocha, a small outfit that's passionate about conservation, whose work seeks to embody simple `gratitude to a loving Creator' as a springboard for responding to the environmental challenges we face.
But if you're looking for one of those books that gives you a long list of lifestyle changes to `save the planet' that you then (guilt-ridden) fail to make, this isn't it. Instead, it's a book that will introduce you to visionary French eco-nuns and the Golden-rumped elephant shrew; tell you of a puzzled small-town mayor and a couple of insightful Marxist birdwatchers; and muse on storm petrels in Portugal as well as a Christian 'elder statesman' in Lebanon's Aamiq wetlands.
And amidst the anecdotes - by turns gripping, amusing, gentle and poignant - there are bright shafts of wisdom: about the need for a serious Christian theology of creation that, hand in hand with some thorough and credible conservation science, is capable of doing justice to a world fearfully and wonderfully made; about the redemption of all of creation - and our (small) place in it; and about the value of communities - rather than heroic individualism - that incarnate Christian values while working for the renewal and restoration of particular places on God's earth. Not a programme to change the (whole) world, then - just the story, engagingly told, of faithful witness through care for a creation made in love. It's a story in which A Rocha's work and its worship are hard to distinguish. And - maybe, just maybe - a story of Christians finding themselves part of the solution. Highly recommended.