I compared this with Wendell Berry (in Sex, Economy, Freedom and Community and other volumes) who also makes a case for the Christian sex ethic without appealing to overtly religious arguments or sources. Berry says that sex outside of marriage is sex for its own individual fulfillment rather than for building community. That, he argues, is a market-shaped, individualistic, consumerist approach to the human body. Instead, he insists, sex should be only used inside of marriage because there it becomes a nurturing discipline that establishes community, creating the deep stability between parents necessary for children to flourish.
The following week, Joanne called six of us up for a short meeting near The Piano. Five of the women she addressed first, asking them if they were willing to read lines from a poem by Wendell Berry.
One of our youngest members would read the first line: "We clasp the hands of those that go before us",
and one of our oldest, the next:
"And the hands of those who come after us".
The other three women would enter between and surround the others as they recited the rest of the beautiful poem honoring the never-ending circle of life.
Wait a minute, I thought to myself. Why am I here? Uh-oh. It was still so unbelievable to me.
Wendell Berry -Shared Event, American Voices & Poetry Series TUE, MAY 24, 2011, 7:30 PM Benaroya Hall \ S. Mark Taper Foundation Auditorium
The East Kentucky Power Cooperative is planning a new coal-fired power plant on the Kentucky River in Clark County. In connection with this project, the Co-op is applying to the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers for a permit to dump coal ash and other wastes upon wetlands and in tributary streams. This is a request, in effect, to be permitted to pollute further the already seriously polluted river. As a native and longtime resident of the Kentucky River watershed, as a rural electric cooperative member and rate-payer, and as a conservationist, I am writing to oppose the granting of this permit.
Anne and Pete have been together since high school. They have a daughter they call “Littles”. They smile at each other and laugh a lot. We all want to be them. This is a song Anne wrote, inspired by the words of poet/farmer Wendell Berry, who I also appreciate (some of you have his work in the handouts that I share in my classes). It is my fond wish that Wendell is related to the branch of the Berry family that I married into. Is is not unlikely, since he comes from Kentucky like my father-in-law, Horace. Don’t they at least sound like cousins?
What Are We Doing?
First, I'll quickly explain the Microclover Project. Microclover is a lawn substituted that is very hard to find in isolated seed. Typically, it is mixed in with a bag of various seed grasses. The idea is that you have a mixed lawn with microclover functioning as a natural fertilizer, keeping that lawn green year-round. Microclover is a true clover, meaning that it is deep-rooted and nitrogen-fixing. However, it was bred with a lawn in mind, meaning that it stands up to traffic better than the more traditional clovers.
I’ve been reading Wendell Berry lately, primarily his short stories and poetry. I reviewed That Distant Land here and wrote a post on "Wendell Berry and the Land" over at Christian Manifesto. And then, shortly after those posts, I noticed a reference (via Twitter) to a book of poems by someone with the improbable name of Liberty Hyde Bailey, and the reference was about Wendell Berry.
Recently, as I reread Wendell Berry's novel, Hannah Coulter, I was transported once again to a place I feel like I know--though it exists only in the imagination of the writer. If you asked me to describe Port William, Kentucky, the fictional town not only of Hannah Coulter but all of Berry's fiction, I could describe it as though I had been there. In fact, I could probably describe it as though you had been there. It's that kind of place, sort of cozy and familiar, with all of the quirks of the place you call home.
What a shame it would be if Jean Vanier tried to be like Wendell Berry instead of opening up his life to the severely mentally disabled. What a shame it would be if Wendell Berry, inspired by Mother Theresa, thought that faithfulness required going to an urban slum.
This recent catastrophe in the gulf isn’t the result of careless producers only. It is, as Berry said back in the day of the Exxon Valdez, the result of uncontrolled greed at the top and lazy passive consumptiveness at the bottom. Neither the top nor the bottom respects the limits of time, place, or intelligence. Neither respects the limits of Nature. Neither is interested in doing anything but excusing the body from its necessary work in the world—in this case, the work of getting from the dorm to the drugstore, or from home to the office, or from the vinyl-clad manse to soccer practice. Or from doing the work of work—the work, say, of hand labor.