The 17 contributors to The Humane Vision of Wendell Berry help those who do not know Berry, or know him only in one or two of his dimensions, to understand what this farmer, poet, essayist, and novelist has been about for the past four or five decades. They make wanting to read him, if not actually meet him, irresistible.
A few of the contributors have serious issues with some of Berry’s positions. D.G. Hart takes issue with him for his rejection of organized religion. Several others point to Berry’s lack of attention to the good of politics, especially what co-editor Nathan Schlueter calls “formal mediating institutions,” and Schlueter himself comes closer than anyone to an outright rebuke of Berry for his disregard of “the original sin narrative, with all that it implies” in his pacifism.
But the criticisms do not question Berry’s central premises so much as they ask whether, for example, regular church attendance is not like caring for a growing crop or tending sheep. Why can’t structures of governance be informed by the same kinds of particularity and integrity that characterize the farmers Berry admires? One thinks of the Founding Fathers, often farmers themselves.
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