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May 2013

Blog Watch: "Faith and Work in Wendell Berry's Fiction"

From very early in my professional career, both in and out of professional ministry, I have struggled to connect my faith and my work. That clash in consciousness may have been what drew me to Wendell Berry’s 2012 short story “A Desirable Woman” and helped me relate to directly to its heroine, Laura Milby, the wife of a young preacher in fictional Sycamore.

“For nearly the whole congregation, or for all of them, and especially the men and children, there was a disconnection between the little white clapboard church with its steeple and bell, its observances and forms of worship, and the world’s daily life and work. . . . Laura recognized these disconnections in the people because she felt them, and labored over them, in herself,” Berry wrote.

via the


Blog Watch: On meeting Wendell Berry last year

Last year about this time my daughter, Ariana, took the bus down from New York City to come home for a night because Wendell Berry would be appearing at the Kennedy Center the next evening.  We did not have tickets so we arrived early to hopefully get coveted standby tickets.  We went so early we were the first ones in the line, which eventually got rather long.  As it turned out, we ended up front and center, as Wendell Berry delivered the most moving personal indictment of the destruction of the American family farmer and global capitalism, before thousands of people, for the annual Jefferson Lecture.

via myfullemptynest

Wendell Berry among new members of American Academy of Arts and Sciences

In the Humanities and the Arts, new members include: novelist Martin Amis; novelist and essayist Wendell Berry; philosopher David Chalmers; director and actor Robert De Niro; Pulitzer Prize-winning poets Annie Dillard and U.S. Poet Laureate Natasha Trethewey; actor Sally Field; Michael Fishbane, a scholar of Jewish studies; operatic soprano Renee Fleming; jazz musician Herbie Hancock; documentary filmmaker Albert Maysles; French history scholar Sarah Maza; linguist David Perlmutter; artist Judy Pfaff; Stuart Schwartz, a leading historian of colonial slavery; artist Yoshiaki Shimizu; and singer-songwriters Pete Seeger and Bruce Springsteen.


The new class will be inducted at a ceremony on October 12, 2013, at the Academy's headquarters in Cambridge, Massachusetts.


Vandana Shiva comments on Wendell Berry

And [Vandana Shiva] is the founder and moral hurricane powering the Navdanya Research Foundation, a “movement to protect the diversity and integrity of living resources, especially native seeds.” 

In addressing the Louisville crowd, Shiva began with a tribute to Berry. He is “someone opposed to oversimplification, to reductionism, to monocultures; especially mental monocultures,” she said, “which are the products of modern universities.”


Michael Pollan on Wendell Berry

So I kept reading, and I kept gardening, and I came to Wendell Berry, who became an important resource. Berry had gone through the same frustrations as a farmer that I'd faced in my little plot of land. He learned that farmers, by necessity, must take a less utopian view of nature. If Thoreau and Emerson tell you to back off and admire whatever happens, Berry says you have a legitimate quarrel with nature when it comes to weeds and pests. He's willing to intervene in a way that most American nature writers are not. Berry's argument for active, humane stewardship of land struck me as a value system I could use. I'd learned a set of values from Thoreau in the library, but it was only when I tested them—in the crucible of an actual garden with actual pests on an actual patch of land—that I was able to form my values more fully.


Blog Watch: "Wendell Berry, Climate Change, and Earth Breathing"

Wendell Berry is the author of more than fifty books of poetry, fiction, and essays, and for more than forty years, he has lived and farmed with his wife, Tanya Berry, in Kentucky. Berry is also a well-known environmental activist, and he will be present to participate this summer at the annual Unitarian Universalist General Assembly, which this year will be in Louisville, Kentucky. Berry will be joining thousands of Unitarian Universalists from around the continent on Thursday, June 20 at a Public Witness event calling for greater Environmental Justice in this country. In particular the goal is to raise aware about the dangers and impact of practices like mountaintop removal mining and horizontal fracking. The UUA website’s description of this event says, “in order to change how we get our energy, we must first use the energy within all of us to make a change.”


Wendell Berry influences education for farming

At St. Catharine College in rural Washington County, Ky., a new academic program is under development aiming to reflect author Wendell Berry’s merging of studies in agrarianism and the liberal arts.

The program, endorsed by Berry and his family, will house some of Berry’s archives and offer concentrations in such areas as agriculture and ecology, soil stewardship, community leadership and environmentally related arts and humanities.


Wendell Berry to speak at Allegheny College

MEADVILLE, Pa. - Renowned author Wendell Berry will return to Allegheny College on Friday, May 17 to open the second annual Loving the Land Through Working Forests Conference. Conference events are free and open to the public.

The Loving the Land speakers' program featuring Berry begins at 7 p.m. in Ford Chapel, North Main Street in Meadville near the center of the Allegheny College campus.



Blog Watch: Wendell Berry and others on stewardship

Wendell Berry takes a specific approach to stewardship of the natural world in his work “Renewing Husbandry.” He relates his life on a farm, and how it became mechanized during his teenage years, to how man is really meant to interact with nature, and how man should not treat nature. He describes husbandry of the natural world in terms of husbandry of a family. A husband and father must nurture, protect, and cultivate his family in order to see them thrive. Berry says the same is true of man and his relationship to the land.

via A. Wilson's Theology of Nature Blog

Blog Watch: Blogging "Scripture, Culture, and Agriculture"

Kevin Scott is taking on the job of blogging his way through Ellen Davis's Scripture, Culture, and Agriculture.

So here’s another layer of biblical understanding—the rural agrarian view of many of its writers. For example, one of the recurring complaints of the prophets was the way the central government of Israel tended to exploit the agrarian sector. And this exploitation was interpreted by the prophets as a lack of faithfulness to God. Perhaps there is some modern relevance to this perspective from Scripture.

To assist her in seeing the Hebrew Scriptures from this perspective, Davis does this study “in conversation with” modern agrarian writers—the most prominent of which is Wendell Berry—who can shed more light on the rural agrarian perspective.