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Review of Bonzo & Stevens work

Wendell Berry and the Cultivation of Life.

Matthew Bonzo and Michael Stevens believe Wendell Berry is a crucial voice for the world today, and more particularly, for Christians today. Their project is simple: to analyze and evaluate Wendell Berry’s writings theologically, addressing themes congruent with contemporary theological concerns while acknowledging ways Berry’s vision can be adopted and lived. It’s no secret that Bonzo and Stevens find Berry to be a profound writer who provides the church with a new vision of life. While Berry’s writing is unlike traditional theological writing, Bonzo and Stevens affirm Hauerwas’ statement at the end of the Gifford Lectures in “The Necessity of Witness” when he “offers John Paul II, John Howard Yoder, and Wendell Berry as crucial voices exhorting the church to a properly countercultural vision of life.” Though Berry seems like a “surprising inclusion” in this list, Bonzo and Stevens argue it is because Berry “represents the fullest embodiment of telling ‘the Story’ through stories…Berry’s work is precisely the sort of ‘renarration’ that can bring healing and make visible the call to ‘practice resurrection’” (35). READ MORE ...


Blog Watch: WB, chance, and curiosity

Science Musings Blog.

Berry is quite correct to suggest that science can only tell us in the broadest strokes why there is a sycamore tree and yellow-throated warbler. The evolutionist would say there is an element of chance in the creation as we find it. As Stephen Jay Gould said, run the tape of evolution again and it is unlikely that you would get precisely the same sycamore tree and yellow-throated warbler. But surely we can celebrate the tree, the bird and the song with reverence, humility and awe without surrendering our curiosity about how it all came to pass. READ MORE ...


Sanders interviewed

An interview with author Scott Russell Sanders | Grist.

Q. Your vision about how we ought to live in relation to the natural world stands very much in the tradition of Henry Thoreau, John Muir, Wendell Berry, Annie Dillard, Rachel Carson, Aldo Leopold, and such. And you make it pretty clear in your writing that you’re working from within that tradition. I’m curious about how you make your message your own.

A. Well, certainly I have drawn on the great tradition of American nature writing, and I honor those predecessors. But I also feel that I’m doing something different. That tradition was created primarily by men who explored nature in solitude. They made excursions into the natural world, lived beside ponds or climbed trees in the midst of storms or canoed wild rivers, and then returned to write about the experience. I treasure their work. But I am not solitary. I write about living in the midst of family, community, and human structures. I see the natural world not as a wild place out there, but as the matrix from which we arise and in which we dwell. We breathe it, drink it, eat it, and wear it; we are sustained by nature with every heartbeat.

Among our contemporaries, Wendell Berry and Gary Snyder, in particular, have written powerfully about human relationships embedded within nature. They exemplify the sort of writer I’ve tried to be, more fully than such earlier figures as Thoreau or Muir. READ MORE ...


Pollan interviewed

The Rumpus Interview With Michael Pollan - The Rumpus.net.

Rumpus: Okay, then. Let’s try to tackle economy and morality and then maybe link that up to a conversation about Nature narratives. I think we can use Wendell Berry as a starting point, since we’ve talked about him from time to time and he so often calls attention to economic and moral systems and the language of things. I recently reread his essay “Imagination in Place” in which he argues against referring to land as “capital” and the people who work it as “labor.” To get us started, could you talk about whether you share that view?

Pollan: I haven’t really thought about those particular words. I mean, “capital” and “labor” are usually thought of as terms that come from the tradition of Adam Smith and Karl Marx and are really creations of the industrial age, although “capital” was tied to the word “cattle” originally. Cattle was the first form of capital. You know, Berry’s point is that we should not be taking these metaphors of machines, these industrial metaphors, and applying them to biological systems. And he says that you get into trouble when you do. To the extent that those words are reflective of our tendency to look at land and see a factory or a potential factory and to see the farmer as a laborer rather than as someone who’s a member of a biotic community or a steward—yeah, I think there’s a lot of truth to what he’s saying. I think these words do influence the way we see things and the metaphors really do matter. READ MORE ...


"America" appreciates WB

America | The National Catholic Weekly - A Farmer's Gift.

The Christian Science Monitor once hailed Wendell Berry as “the prophetic American voice of our day.” Raised on a farm in northeastern Kentucky, Berry studied English at the University of Kentucky and creative writing at Stanford. In his early 30s, he returned to his native Henry County and purchased a farm, where he has remained for more than 40 years, writing, teaching and farming. With a voluminous corpus of fiction, poetry and essays, Berry is best known as a cultural critic, calling the modern world to task for its addiction to technology and economic growth, and arguing that this unchecked infatuation has often engendered violence against both nature and human communities. READ MORE ...


Of interest: An Elegy for Tobacco

An Elegy for Tobacco | Front Porch Republic.

Last summer our little congregation went through a painful upheaval–a division that proved to be beyond our capacity for love, neighborliness, and appreciation of old ties. As with all griefs, I’ve spent a lot of time mulling it over, as has Mary. She and her husband Chuck farm full-time just a mile from us, and both have lived in Henry County all their lives. On Sundays Mary sits in the pew that her grandmother sat in (or rather the replacement pew in the same spot). And not long ago she said to me that she wondered if the end of the tobacco program didn’t have something to do with our troubles at church.

What she meant was this: every community must be bound together by something it shares—and for the ties to bind strongly there need to be several somethings. Here in Henry County, when everyone used to raise tobacco, everyone had the crop’s seasons and its demands in common. Tobacco needs a lot of tending, and requires hard work... READ MORE ...


Response to NYT response to "Wild Blessings"

The Thee-ater of the Bozarts | Front Porch Republic.

Why does a belittling review matter? Every artist gets bad reviews. But I want to look at this one for two reasons. First, because this review dismisses not just the play itself, but the author of the poems that make up the play, and even the rather large subject of his work. Nature! There’s just so much of it. As the reviewer left town he couldn’t shake the dust off his carbon footprints fast enough. READ MORE ...