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June 2014

Wirzba named first Wendell Berry Agrarian Fellow

Rivendell Writers’ Colony has named theologian and scholar Norman Wirzba to be the first Wendell Berry New Agrarian Fellow at Rivendell.

“We are so deeply pleased that Norman is our first receipient of this award honoring Wendell Berry. Wendell recommended Norman to us as a very important voice for the New Agrarians, who embody Eco-logical, Eco-nomical, and Eco-spiritual approaches to the land and community. Wendell Berry is the benchmark, and we are grateful to be able to honor him annually in this way at RWC. Of course, Sewanee’s literary history with the original Agrarians makes it all the more special for us,” said Carmen Thompson, Director of Rivendell.

Read more at Rivendell Writers Colony 

Wendell Berry to discuss Kentucky's past & future, June 7

In Frankfort, KY on Saturday, June 7, 2014:

“Explore Kentucky’s Future and the Power of History” Luncheon and Discussion: Dine on Kentucky fare and then delve into how powerful the past can be in shaping tomorrow when award-winning novelist, poet and farmer Wendell Berry and State Historian Dr. James Klotter share their vision of the Commonwealth’s future. KET veteran commentator Renee Shaw moderates.

Boone Day Hours:
10 a.m.: Doors open. Capital City Dancers perform in Commonwealth
Hall (ongoing throughout the morning)
10:30 a.m.: Commemorative bricks dedication and reception on the Pathway Through History, Cralle-Day Garden
11 a.m.: President Lincoln’s Own Band concert, Keeneland Exhibition Gallery
12 p.m.: Lunch and panel discussion, Brown-Forman Kentucky Room
More important details at Capital Living

Blog Watch: Wendell Berry cited on solutions and problems

When describing the industrialized agriculture, Wendell Berry said modern farmers “can take a solution and divide it neatly into two problems.” He’s referring to how industrial agriculture breaks up the cycles in traditional farming and in nature into throughputs that require inputs and create waste, instead of feeding off of their own byproducts. Attempts to undo this trend and recreate cycles come in many forms, but few are as creative and progressive as The Plant, a former Chicago meatpacking facility whose eco-friendly transformation was spearheaded by Bubbly Dynamics, LLC. The separate businesses housed within The Plant produce and process food and work together to eliminate waste while feeding off of one another’s byproducts. The goal: produce food with zero net impact.

Via The Ground_Up Project

Blog Watch: Wendell Berry cited on the Afterlife

Wendell Berry’s novel, A World Lost, is a story about a family coping with the death of one of their own. In the final chapter, Berry reflects on the manner of man he was. This meditation gives way to a reflection on death as a pathway into the light of a more advanced spiritual realm.

Berry writes:

I imagine the dead waking, dazed, into a shadowless light in which they know themselves altogether for the first time. It is a light that is merciless until they can accept its mercy; by it they are at once condemned and redeemed. It is Hell until it is Heaven. Seeing themselves in that light, if they are willing, they see how far they have failed the only justice of loving one another; it punishes them by their own judgment. And yet, in suffering that light’s awful clarity, in seeing themselves within it, they see its forgiveness and its beauty, and are consoled. In it they are loved completely, even as they have been, and so are changed into what they could not have been but what, if they could have imagined it, they would have wished to be.

Read more at Faith Forward

Wendell Berry and Gary Snyder visit Petaluma CA, June 27

Berry and Snyder will be appearing June 27 at 7pm at Copperfield's Books in Petaluma to read from their book and discuss food, the environment and spirituality. It's a rare chance to hear from two men who have had such a deep impact on American intellectual life. Tickets go on sale May 21.

Copperfield's Books. 140 Kentucky St, Petaluma, 707.762.0563.


Blog Watch: The Ethics of Wendell Berry's Jayber Crow

In The Humane Vision of Wendell Berry Anthony Esolen notes that Berry’s longest Port William novel, Jayber Crow, is in many ways a modern day retelling of Dante. Berry’s own language throughout the book suggests the comparison, as his narrator, the novel’s subject and namesake, makes frequent mention of “the Dark Wood of Error.” What’s more, it’s hard not to note the similarities in Jayber’s relationship to Mattie and Dante’s to Beatrice–in both cases the story’s narrator is drawn to God via the love he has toward a godly woman he will only know from a distance. To understand the broader argument, you should just buy the book.

But here I want to focus on the particular question of what specifically brings about Jayber’s conversion and what exactly Jayber is converting to. The setting of the novel is mid 20th century small town Kentucky, particularly the small town of Port William. The novel’s narrator and protagonist, Jayber Crow, is a seminary dropout and barber who is in his early 40s and has been back in the Port William area for about 20 years. In the opening scenes of the novel, we meet a character who embodies the independent spirit we often associate with Kentucky. In one scene he describes sitting in a classroom at the orphanage where he grew up, staring out the window, longing to be out in a field instead of sitting in a stuffy classroom going over boring lessons.

Read more at Mere Orthodoxy

Blog Watch: A Report on Wendell Berry in Louisville

Berry began by dismissing the word “environment” as useless to the conservation movement, preferring “ecosphere,” or simply “the world.” Berry argued that in order to have a real effect one needs to embrace the particular, call it by “its proper name: the Kentucky River watershed, something known to its inhabitants.” Berry insists we cast off the abstract and embrace what we know and can define.

The same is true with the idea of “agrarian.” Berry harkened to the “Jeffersonian vision” of “small landholders who had a vested interest in the local place.” “The agrarian vision isold,” pointing to Virgil’s Georgics and the Psalms.

Just as he had dismissed “environmentalism,” so, too, Berry waved off the catchphrase “Think Globally, Act Locally.” Calling it a “linguistic mess,” Berry insisted it was not possible to think globally. He said he would prefer to reduce the slogan simply to “Think!”

Read more at Pinstripe Pulpit

Review of Wendell Berry's and Gary Snyder's Correspondence

A collection of letters chronicling two writers’ friendship and common interests in nature and faith.

Wriglesworth (English/Univ. of Waterloo) has gathered nearly 240 letters between Snyder and Berry, written since 1973, when the two began corresponding, Snyder (Back on the Fire: Essays, 2007, etc.) writing from his home in Nevada City, Calif., and Berry from Port Royal, Ky. Recurring themes include environmentalism, reflections on spirituality and the authors’ efforts to effect social change: “living at peace is a difficult, deceptive concept,” Berry wrote to Snyder in 1978. “Same for resisting evil. You can struggle, embattle yourself, resist evil until you become evil….And I see with considerable sorrow that I am not going to get done fighting and live at peace in anything like the simple way I thought I would.”

Read more at Kirkus Reviews