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March 2014
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May 2014

Of Interest: Ellen Davis & Norman Wirzba interviewed

Doug Sikkema interviews Dr. Ellen Davis and Dr. Norman Wirzba of Duke University Divinity School about our world, the environmental movement, and how faith relates to it all.

Wirzba considers how idealism doesn't do us any favours:

It's very easy for people to get a rather romantic view of the world. You know, maybe you've read some Walden and you think it would be great to just go live in a hut in the woods, and it's entirely unrealistic. The reality is, is that ecosystems are very complex and the human place in them is very complex, and if you romanticize what you're describing, you're describing it wrongly.

Read more and listen to the Audio Interview HERE.

Wirzba, Davis, and Wendell Berry in Nashville, May 3

Join us on Saturday morning, May 3 at St. George’s as Professor Norman Wirzba presents “Food and Faith: A Matter of Health and Wholeness” with commentary from award-winning novelist Wendell Berry and Professor Ellen Davis of Duke Divinity School.

The event will be hosted at St. George’s Episcopal Church in Nashville, Tennessee. Doors will open at 8:15am and the morning’s session starts 8:30am ending at 11:30am. Food and Faith is free and open to the public.

via Siloam Institute

On Mary and Wendell Berry

I find so many details about this story life-giving, but the real solidifying agent for my respect of Wendell Berry is that his child knows and can articulate why she respects him so greatly as to devote her adult life and the family she started to following in his footsteps. Many great leaders of men have inspired the masses while leaving wreckage at home, but those devoted eternally to their families carry a certain weight that should not be overlooked.

As a parent myself, the greatest impact of this story is the fact that above all else in their relationship, Berry’s daughter has been moved by a realization that she has always existed in her father’s love, affection, and forgiveness. She came to realize that, whether she knew it or not, he cherished her, delighted in her personality, and was always ready to pardoned her missteps.

Read more at M. Landers

Wendell Berry cited in city v. country reflection

As a “crunchy con“-leaning girl with strong ties to farmland and agrarian culture, I love to champion a Wendell Berry-esque conservatism that savors the beauty of fields, farmland, and small-town community. Indeed, Wendell Berry’s writings—though excellent and full of good thoughts—do have this tendency to reverence the rural and unfairly criticize the cosmopolitan. Sadly, many conservatives (myself included) confuse this love of the “pastoral” with a proper love of “place.” We think that, in order to be “rooted” to a specific plot of land, we must be rooted in a country haven.

However, when one really considers the urban nature of America, it makes no sense—and indeed, it would be detrimental—for all of America’s conservatives to abandon urban areas and cosmopolitan centers for a secluded country lifestyle. We may need our countryside Benedictine havens—but we might also need a few similar havens within the city itself.

Read more at The American Conservative

Of Interest: Vandana Shiva Speaks in Kanas City

The 61-year-old physicist, ecologist and author from Delhi, India then served up a penetrating deconstruction of the mechanistic mindset and the industrial food system it has spawned. This is the same mindset Walmart and Target now intend to apply to organic food.

“For a short time,” Shiva said, “the mechanistic mind has projected onto the world the false idea that food production is and must be of necessity an industrial activity. That’s a world view that is in profound error.”

“When food becomes a commodity it loses its quality, its taste, and its capacity to provide true nutrition,” she said. Industrial agriculture turns the earth into units of production, farmers into high-tech sharecroppers, and is the single biggest contributor to our declining environment. She said industrial agriculture distorts the proper relationship between humans and the natural world.

Read more at The Call of the Land.

Wendell Berry and the Yale Sustainable Farm Project

Although he has never been a full-time farmer, Berry credits his rural upbringing as essential to his illustrious career. He smiles wistfully as he describes hanging around tobacco barns as a kid, listening to “wonderful talk by people who really know how to talk.” In addition to writing and editing, he taught English at the University of Kentucky for nearly twenty years. In 1964, Berry and his wife, Tanya, moved their family to Port Royal, Kentucky and purchased 125 acres they call Lane’s Landing where they raise grains, vegetables, and livestock. This simple but radical commitment to place has come to not only define his writing, but also serves as an embodied expression of his philosophy, activism, and land ethic. Berry believes that our social and physical hyper-mobility is antithetical to cultivating sustainable communities. As Berry says, “We’re using the word “wild” wrong. There are no wild animals. They’re not wild; they’redomestic—going about their business, making their homes. They think we’re wild. We’re not doing a good job of making our homes, raising our children. We’re just being wild!”

Read much more at Sage Magazine.

Audio of Wendell Berry, Wes Jackson, Mark Bittman Conversation

Earlier this month, luminaries of the food movement — who also happen to be longtime friends — took the stage at Cooper Union’s historic Great Hall. Attendees flocked from across the nation to watch farmer-poet Wendell Berry and Wes Jackson, president of The Land Institute, join New York Times columnist Mark Bittman for a friendly conversation about the current state of food and farming, how we got here and what lies before us.

A frisson of excitement filled the air of the amphitheater (the event had sold out in only hours after being posted) on this otherwise gloomy Friday night as Berry, Jackson and Bittman rubbed elbows with urban gardeners, academics, literati, society folks, activists and students in anticipation of the discourse.

Read more and listen to the audio HERE

Go directly to the audio HERE.

Wendell Berry, Global Warming, and E. F. Schumacher

Global warming was not yet being mentioned in the late 1960s, and even as late as 1977, when E. F. Schumacher died, most prominent environmentalists like him were not yet especially concerned with it. Yet by 1977, both Schumacher and Berry were criticizing the modern mentalities and economic systems that have led us to our present global-warming predicament.

In that year Berry’s book The Unsettling of America: Culture & Agriculture appeared. In it he wrote that you could divide our history into a conflict between two groups, the exploiters (e.g., strip miners) and nurturers (e.g., small, independent farmers). “The exploiter’s goal is money, profit; the nurturer’s goal is health — his land’s health, his own, his family’s, his community’s, his country’s.” To Berry’s regret the exploitive mentality, present for a long time in America, had become dominant in corporate America.

Read more at LA Progressive