In his book, “The Map That Changed the World,” Winchester gives an in-depth geological and historical survey of William Smith’s strata map.
Smith, an 18th and 19th century English geologist, began his career as a surveyor. Throughout his career of surveying canals, he begins to observe the depth of the strata or layers of sentiment and rock, calling into question what was known up to this time about the effects of soil, water run-off, and waterway systems. Eventually, this helped him develop the first strata map of an entire country, England, Scotland, and Wales.
Winchester argues that Smith’s digging and uncovering of pre-historic fossils led to even more significant scientific theory and discovery advancements. Moreover, such findings questioned the theological understanding and accepted beliefs around creation. In the author’s eyes, Smith’s developments influenced the work of Charles Darwin.
“The inevitable collision between the new rationally based world of science and the old ecclesiastical, faith-directed world of belief was about to occur—and in the vanguard of the new movement, both symbolically and actually, was the great map,” argued Winchester. 
The author also lays out the utter injustices and rejection that Smith faced as he presented these discoveries and innovative maps, only to have much of his work stolen by members of the Geological Society of London, who also rejected his membership. Smith joins the throngs of innovative minds that were not understood in their time and received ill-treatment only to be praised for their significance after their death.
Winchester is writing about a time in the height of European Colonialism. Then, the maps quite literally changed as sovereign countries were invaded, overthrown, and supplanted with European overlords. As I am reading this book, I cannot help but feel the overshadowing of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
The Kenyan UN Ambassador, Martin Kimani, probably put it best in a speech to the UN Security Council this week, “This situation echoes our history. Kenya and almost every African country was birthed by the ending of empire. Our borders were not of our own drawing. They were drawn in the distant colonial metropoles of London, Paris, and Lisbon, with no regard for the ancient nations that they cleaved apart.”
The “development of foreign nations,” shifting borders, and the subversion of less aggressive people groups are nothing new. Yet, we are where we are today because we have not had a proper reckoning of our past.
And the church is not immune. We have come from and where we are today directly from the church’s unholy marriage with European monarchs, emperors, and elected officials. Maybe the church can be forward-thinking, not finding itself once again caught behind the times as they did when Darwin put forth ideas that radically shifted our understanding of how God did and does function in our world.
 Winchester, Simon. The Map That Changed the World: William Smith and the Birth of Modern Geology. (New York: Harper Perennial, 2009), 35.
 CNN, Amy Woodyatt. n.d. “Kenya’s UN Ambassador Slams Russia and Compares Ukraine Crisis to Africa’s Colonial Past.” https://www.cnn.com/2022/02/23/europe/kenya-ukraine-russia-colonialism-intl/index.html.