As promised I will provide a sketch of another pastoral encounter in a Wendell Berry novel, this time from A Place on Earth, a novel in which land and community in the small Kentucky village of Port William are closely engaged against the backdrop of World War 2, the absence of young men from the community serving overseas.
The program exemplified the agrarian ideals of none other than Wendell Berry, who wrote in his essay “Discipline and Hope” that:
A person dependent on somebody else for everything from potatoes to opinions may declare that he is a free man, and his government may issue a certificate granting him his freedom, but he will not be free. He is that variety of specialist known as a consumer, which means that he is the abject dependent of producers. How can he be free if he can do nothing for himself? What is the First Amendment to him whose mouth is stuck to the tit of the “affluent society”? Men are free precisely to the extent that they are equal to their own needs. The most able are the most free.
As a follow-up to the Manifesto for a New Food Art (Click link to read), The Englewood Review is sponsoring FOOD ART MANIFESTO, an art and writing contest to encourage reflections by artists related to current conversations on food, place and the new agrarianism.
Read the Manifesto for a New Food Art.
While this document by no means calls for specific aesthetics or media, it does ask for artists to consider some basic ideals that have been associated recently with food, and particularly the new agrarianism (fresh, local, sustainable, etc.), as normative also for art-making.
Find more information at ERB ... HERE
On Wednesday November 10, 2010, Indiana University hosted a conversation with Wendell Berry and Wes Jackson that was moderated by Bloomington’s own agrarian writer Scott Russell Sanders.
Doing some reading recently through some of Wendell Berry's novels I was struck by his account of a number of incidents of death and dying and attempts at pastoral visitation. I thought that these rich accounts of the interaction between the minister and the families might prove a rich source for reflection by those involved in such visitation. Certainly there is a substantial cultural difference between early 20th century Kentucky the situation a century later in Australia. Nevertheless, I reckon there is still something to be learnt particularly for engagement in pastoral care with people who are members of the Christian community. Stories such as this are a great source of material for reflection as they are interesting to read and rich in substance and nuance in a way that formal case studies can never be.
When the illusionment of our religious speak and lust for the transcendent collides with the naked disillusionment of everyday experience we catch a glimpse of the sacredness of place. It is here amidst the paper jams, car rides, board meetings, runny noses and broken relationships that we glimpse something of the character of the Divine.
“Is it not possible that by calling to our aid the musical relation of dissonance we may meanwhile have made the difficult problem of the tragic effect much easier? For we now understand what it means to wish to see tragedy and at the same time to long to get beyond all seeing” -Nietzsche, The Birth of Tragedy XXIV
To try to make sense of a world in which fragile bodies collide with primal forces and inevitably fall is to do philosophy. To give voice to the many small truths of the world by allowing its suffering to speak out is to aspire to poetry. If the work of tragedy is to aestheticize suffering the blues was there at the birth of tragedy. While blues music fits within a world tradition of folk music it also shares a history with great literature, philosophy, poetry. Our project here is to begin to explore this shared history. r
credits released 24 November 2010
Richard Carlson - Vocals, Guitar, Slide Guitar, Throat Singing
Buddy Mohmed - Contrabass, Guitar
Mr. Carlson has set "Desolation" and "The Wheel" to music well worth hearing. His lyrics to the WB pieces and all the others as well can be found HERE.
Today the second hour of the Dianne Rehm Show consisted of a discussion on Wendell Berry's Hanna Coulter. Needless to say, the ability of the commentators to miss the point was entirely unastounding.
More disconcerting than one commentator's positing that Berry returned to farming do to nostalgia for cow patties, was the Episcopal bishop's recommendation to a caller - "preaching" as she called it. To the man who spoke of his desire to have the type connection to community in place that Berry writes so eloquently about, she recommended seeking out a mosque, temple or "…um…what's it called again… oh right… church." Such communities still exist there, she asserts. Simply ridiculous. Seeking out similar people based on self identity, due to dissatisfaction with not knowing one's neighbors, is not in anyway similar to a connection to a real community based in place.
There are many things that I would describe sacred. Hearing a choir sing a favorite anthem, resting in the woods by a creek bank, witnessing the birth of one’ own child, listening to a person tell their own story – all of these things become sacred moments. Anytime we can stop and realize the essence of life in its beauty, love, hardship and struggle we are engaged in sacred time. Whenever I am privileged to listen to someone read a poem that they wrote themselves, I regard that as sacred time.
Diane invites listeners to join a discussion of "Hannah Coulter" by Wendell Berry. Hannah is an old woman who has experienced much loss but has never been defeated. Hannah is a twice-widowed mother of three. She finds herself reflecting on her childhood, her loves and loss, her children, and her beloved Kentucky farm life. Wendell berry is a renowned poet, author, essayist and farmer. He has set many of his stories, including this one, in the fictional town of Port William. "Hannah Coulter" is the story of the ties that bind a community.
Contributors include Jane Holmes Dixon, Jason Peters, and Andrew Wingfield. Follow the link and click on "Listen" at the upper left.