Previous month:
February 2012
Next month:
April 2012

Utne repeats Progressive's letter from Wendell Berry on Work

Though I would support the idea of a 30-hour workweek in some circumstances, I see nothing absolute or indisputable about it. It can be proposed as a universal need only after abandonment of any respect for vocation and the replacement of discourse by slogans.

It is true that the industrialization of virtually all forms of production and service has filled the world with “jobs” that are meaningless, demeaning, and boring—as well as inherently destructive. I don’t think there is a good argument for the existence of such work, and I wish for its elimination, but even its reduction calls for economic changes not yet defined, let alone advocated, by the “left” or the “right.” Neither side, so far as I know, has produced a reliable distinction between good work and bad work. To shorten the “official workweek” while consenting to the continuation of bad work is not much of a solution.

The old and honorable idea of “vocation” is simply that we each are called, by God, or by our gifts, or by our preference, to a kind of good work for which we are particularly fitted. Implicit in this idea is the evidently startling possibility that we might work willingly, and that there is no necessary contradiction between work and happiness or satisfaction.


From "Sustainability, Wendell Berry and Confucius"

Wendell Berry, one of the original proponents of the principle of sustainability and a major social critic of 20th and now 21st century American society, has made surprisingly repeated references to Confucius and Confucian writings in his works. I say "surprisingly" because Berry, at first glance, might not seem like someone who would find a complement to his own ideas on American culture and community as well as his Christian faith in a source seemingly so far removed as the writings of the Confucian tradition


Wendell Berry and Others Taken to the Woodshed in "Why eco-activists love His Royal Hystericalness"

As for oil, it is only of importance as a source of energy - and we have lots of different sources of energy at our disposal. After years of falling energy prices, the current relatively high prices have spurred a new round of exploration and innovation. In his foreword to Charles’s speech, the American author and activist Wendell Berry bizarrely claims that we face a shortage of fertiliser in the future as natural gas (one of the inputs used to make fertiliser) runs out. Perhaps Berry should get out more: the ‘shale gas revolution’ has turned the US from a gas importer to a gas exporter; in fact, America has just overtaken Russia to become the world’s No.1 producer of natural gas. It is becoming increasingly clear that there won’t be a problem with fossil fuels running out in the foreseeable future and no shortage of fertiliser, either.


Blog Watch: "Eating as as Spiritual Act (Part 1)

These are the first of my notes from a wonderful presentation I attended yesterday, entitled “The Spirituality of Stewardship, Sustainability, and Food”. It was held at the holy Rothko Chapel and featured Dr. Norman Wirzba of Duke (author of Food and Faith: A Theology of Eating) as well as some Texan farmers and one pastor who are advocates for sustainability. But it was Wirzba’s talk which garnered the bulk of my note-taking, since he & I are simpatico.


The article reflects on a presentation in Houston on March 10 by Norman Wirzba.

from "Three Reasons Christians Should Read and Enjoy Wendell Berry"

When you pick up a book by Wendell Berry, don’t be surprised if the Kentucky soil of his home state falls out from in between the pages.  He is a man who writes with a deep sense of reverence for all of God’s blessings, especially those which we seem to take for granted.

My first Berry book was not one of his collections of essays or novels, but a book of his poems.  I received it in the mail the day before I left to go vacation to the Rockies and I sat on the deck of my cabin reading his poems as I looked out across the majesty of God’s creation. Berry gave a voice to the mountains, the snowfall, and the fresh air.  Truly, Wendell Berry is an advocate for that which grows, creaks, breathes, and dies.


from "Eternal Beings Living in Time: On Wendell Berry’s “Jayber Crow”

The principles Berry argues for in his essays with the rigorous logic of a legal brief are tenderly brought to life in his novels and short stories, which are all set in and around the fictional village of Port William, Kentucky. The title character in Jayber Crow is not native to Port William. Jayber’s parents died when he was only three. Aging relatives in Squires Landing, a few miles from Port William, take him in, but several years later they die too. “I was a little past ten years old,” he says, “and I was the survivor already of two stories completely ended.” He is sent to an orphanage in central Kentucky, and doesn’t return to the area until he drops out of college and goes looking for “a loved life to live.”


New Collected Poems by Wendell Berry

In Wendell Berrys upcoming The New Collected Poems, the poet revisits for the first time his immensely popular Collected Poems, which The New York Times Book Review described as “a straight-forward search for a life connected to the soil, for marriage as a sacrament and family life” that “affirms a style that is resonant with the authentic,” and “[returns] American poetry to a Wordsworthian clarity of purpose.”

In The New Collected Poems, Berry reprints the nearly two hundred pieces in Collected Poems, along with the poems from his most recent collections—Entries, Given, and Leavings—to create an expanded collection, showcasing the work of a man heralded by The Baltimore Sun as “a sophisticated, philosophical poet in the line descending from Emerson and Thoreau . . . a major poet of our time.”



Blog Watch: "Oral History, Wendell Berry, and Memory as Membership "

The many transformations reveal that this property is a product of hard work.  The beauty of this place bears the image of my parents as well as their parents.   Their long labour of love for gardening, coupled with their even longer love for labour, has made this place what it is today.   Berry would praise their ”wisdom” for “standing like slow-growing trees on a ruined place,” enriching it with the responsibility that is required to transform any place into a home.  


Wendell Berry quoted in photographer profile

Wendell Berry, a poetic and philosophical critic who writes of nature and of simplicity, once said, "I am not bound for any public place, but for ground of my own where I have planted vines and orchard trees, and in the heat of the day climbed up into the healing shadow of the woods." This appreciation for the simple, reverent interaction of hand and soil, the pursuit of domestic simplicity, shoots through much of Berry's writing and has since inspired a generation of young farmers, poets and American home-dwellers. And that mentality infuses the photography of Columbia resident Rachel Keren Nelson, who strives to capture the most intricate, glowing details of contemporary Midwestern hearth, home and heather.


Blog Watch: Reflecting on "the power of thinking little'

Way back in the early 1970s, the US writer and farmer Wendell Berry wrote a prescient essay entitled ‘Think Little’. In it he argues that we have got so used to everything being done on a large scale – food production, government, protest movements – that we have lost sight of the fact that ‘there is no public crisis that is not also private’. He writes passionately about the importance of anyone who is concerned about the big problems of the day to start by ‘thinking little’.