Influencing Culture – The Environment and Access to Information

A finger in every pie?
The breadth of William Carey’s interests and influence is stunning. He saw the Christian faith as a power for good in every sphere of human engagement.

His primary focus was to communicate the message of Christ to Indians that they might believe and be reconciled to the God of the Bible, but as many have found since his example, the gospel should impact all of life

William Carey founded the Agri-Horticultural Society in the 1820s, thirty years before the Royal Agricultural Society was established in England.

‘Carey did a systematic survey of agriculture in India…and exposed the evils of the indigo cultivation system two generations before it collapsed.

‘Carey did all this not because he was hired to do it, but because he was horrified to see that three fifths of one of the finest countries in the world, full of industrious inhabitants, had been allowed to become an uncultivated jungle abandoned to wild beasts and serpents.’

He ‘became the first man in India to write essays on forestry, almost fifty years before the Government made its very first attempt at forest conservation in Malabar.

He ‘both practiced and vigourously advocated the cultivation of timber, giving practical advice on how to plant trees for environmental, agricultural and commercial purposes.’

‘His motivation came from his belief that God has made man responsible for the earth.’

It was in response to Carey’s journal, Friend of India, that the Government made the first appointments for the supervision of forests in South India.

Lending Libraries
Indian scholar Vishal Mangalwadi asserts that Carey pioneered the idea of lending libraries in India. ‘While the East India Company was importing ship loads of ammunition and soldiers to subdue India, Carey asked his friends in the Baptist Missionary Society to load educational books and seeds into those same ships.’

He was working hard to encourage indigenous literature and text books in the vernacular (the local languages), but until those works were available, he sought to fast-track the education of Indians by making information accessible to them as easily as possible, using the technology available at the time – through libraries.

We’ll continue our study of this ‘Father of Modern Missions’ next time…

(All quotes from Vishal Mangalwadi, William Carey and the Regeneration of India, Good Books, Mussourie, India)
To see the first part of the William Carey story click here

© 2011 Church History Blog / Lex Loizides


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