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Blog Watch: Epigraphical WB

The evil of automatic toilets « gu.e (pronounced “goo”).
“I knew a man who, in the age of chainsaws, went right on cutting his wood with a handsaw and an axe. He was a healthier and saner man than I am. I shall let his memory trouble my thoughts.”

— Wendell Berry, “Feminism, the Body, and the Machine”

I understand Berry’s meaning in this excerpt: machines and tools entice us with their promises of speed, convenience, and efficiency, but progress comes at a cost to our sanity and health. READ MORE ...

WB cited in plea for green Appalachian jobs

George Fenwick: Green Forest Works for Appalachia: A Win-Win-Win for Jobs, Forests, and Birds.
People have been in search of jobs, dignity, and a bountiful land along the spine of the Appalachian Mountains from colonial days to the present. The discussion of exactly where they can find those treasures has not been limited to the realm of social scientists, economists, and politicians. For decades, noted artists, musicians, poets, and writers have contributed creative thoughts, opinions, and ideas to the search. Harry Caudill, Wendell Berry, Silas House, and many other noted writers have framed their work as urgent appeals to the American conscience on behalf of the land and people of Appalachia. Erik Reece, author of "Lost Mountain: A Year in the Vanishing Wilderness", wrote an Op-Ed for The New York Times on May 5, 2007, in which he said: "We need a New Deal for Appalachia that would expand the Appalachian Regional Reforestation Initiative, or create a similar program, to finally return some of the region's lost wealth in the form of jobs and trees, rebuilt topsoil, and resuscitated communities." READ MORE ...

Blog Watch: WB, individualism, healthcare

On the Road to Damascus...: Individualism in the eyes of Wendell Berry.
Berry continues on for two additional stanzas [of "The Mad Farmer, Flying the Flag of Rough Branch, Secedes from the Union"] and if you have a moment sometime, you should find the rest of his poem and read it for yourselves. It's quite remarkable. The most remarkable thing about it, however, is its demand for us to move away from this nonsense that "individualism" means that Americans should only look out for themselves and for nobody else. We must dismiss the notion that is promulgated by the Glenn Becks and Bill O'Reillys of the world that we can be charitable if it suits us--or we can care about our neighbors if we like them and they are nice to us--or just because the founding principles of our country declare life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness for all people doesn't mean that we should work for equality for all. READ MORE ...

Blog Watch: Marking the moment with WB

Resident Theology: Sunday Sabbath Poetry: Wendell Berry (One Year Anniversary Edition!).
Yesterday was the one year anniversary of the very first post here on Resident Theology, and just a few days after that first entry was the inaugural "Sunday Sabbath Poetry" post, featuring its inspiration, Wendell Berry. It only seems fitting, then, to feature him again today, as I have every few months in the past year. Below is one of his angrier poems, but in truth less angry than sad, almost a national lament focused on a particular character and vocation whose monstrous task is the domesticated, standard mission of death by precision. If only such a lament could be read in pulpits across the country. READ MORE ...

Blog Watch: Grace and food

Telling the Stories of Consumer Products « Our Earth/Ourselves.
There is a limit to the ways in which we can force the land to yield more—even though we are still trying, with such schemes as vertical farming. Without healthy water and soil, food will not grow. It comes to market from somewhere and the way in which this happens is a story we need to hear and to tell.

If that story is one of abundance and diversity and continuance, it is also a story of grace. Thus, Wendell Berry once remarked, we should not eat any food we are not willing to pray over.

By contrast, most modern stories of the food we eat are profoundly lonely ones— for humans are their only actors. And in them we are only consuming, not sharing. No one takes seriously the cartoon cows that appear on milk cartoons. We know humans made them up—just as we assume that humans can make up our food—as if we did not need the cooperation of the land to do this. READ MORE ...

Blog Watch: WB and eating

The Rabbit Room.
As Clint and I were leaving the theatre after watching Food, Inc., I mentioned that I owe much of my thinking about food to the writings of Wendell Berry, and as I’ve tried to explain to other friends in the following weeks why I think being mindful of what you eat is so important, I’ve found myself quoting longer and longer passages from him. READ MORE ...

Publication notes

I have neglected to note the re-publication by Counterpoint of two more past titles by Mr. Berry. Back in May they released The Gift of Good Land: Further Essays Cultural and Agricultural and Home Economics: Fourteen Essays. Excepting their new uniform covers with classy art by Wesley W. Bates, the volumes are identical to the previous North Point editions. We who index are grateful that, with no new material, these editions preserve the original pagination.

The recently published Bringing It to the Table: On Farming and Food in tandem with The Art of the Commonplace from 2003 would seem to form a most useful "short" introduction to Mr. Berry's thought.

And we continue to look forward to the November publication of Leavings, a poetry collection that is described at Amazon:

Following the widely praised Given, this new collection offers a masterful blend of epigrams, elegies, lyrics, and letters, with the occasional short love poem. Alternately amused, outraged, and resigned, Berry’s welcome voice is the constant in this varied mix. The book concludes with a new sequence of Sabbath poems, works that have spawned from Berry’s Sunday morning walks of meditation and observation.

And then (shall we start some rumors?) in addition to all of these certainties—and with nine homeless tales floating around out there—might we also be able to expect another story collection (or an expansion of That Distant Land) in the near future? Is there some whispering about more new essays? If you have information that you are able to share on these matters, please do.

WB cited in healthcare essay

The Ethics of Sustainable Healthcare Reform « Health After Oil.
To address the sustainability of our health care systems, there should be more explicit attention in the reform debate to what Wendell Berry calls “solving for pattern,” which describes a way of thinking about the interrelationship of problems and solutions so that we effectively address multiple, interlaced problems in ways that minimize the creation of new problems. Continued research on which treatments are most effective—both in terms of cost and health outcomes—are an excellent example of solving for pattern. Trying to reduce the frequency of redundant, unnecessary, and expensive tests and procedures is yet another win-win approach. READ MORE ...

Loving the soil

The Barnstable Patriot - WOODSTOVE-Farms and soil.
A few years ago I went solo on a drive west and visited farm stores and vast agricultural enterprises. It was plowing season and if for no other reason I stopped to smell the turning soils and I wondered how long it would be before these great farms would become streets and houses like back home. David Kline is an Amish farmer and writer who speaks lovingly, as does Wendell Berry, of the pleasures of plowing. He writes, “Plowing encompasses more than just turning the soil… It is like being a part of a whole.” Some folks just don’t get it. Kline says, “Maybe I’m blind, but no matter which angle I look from I fail to see any drudgery in the work… In early spring my son and I, each with a team as eager to be out as we are, turn the mellow soil, feeling its coolness and tilth.” READ MORE ...