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August 2014

Reflecting on Moral Choosing in Wendell Berry's Hannah Coulter

“Caleb didn’t need a graduate degree to be a farmer and Nathan didn’t say anything. He went on eating. He had his work to do and he needed to get back to it. Tears filled his eyes and overflowed and ran down. I don’t think he noticed he was crying. That was as near to licked as I ever saw him. Even his death didn’t come as near to beating him as that did.” Wendell Berry, Hannah Coulter

Wendell Berry’s Hannah Coulter has no argument, but it does have a vision. Like all narratives it takes the reader up into its account of purposiveness and the rise and fall of the characters judged by this account. Caleb has missed the good life, narrates Berry, because he has missed “home” and the work, place, and people that “home” offers. He has chosen graduate school, professional life, and abandoned the farm and his family. Don’t call it abandonment perhaps; that’s too strict and legal. But abandonment is exactly what Caleb feels it to be.

Read more at Concerning the Soul

Wendell Berry Keynote in September: Register Now

Registration is now open for this September 27, 2014 conference Making a Home Fit for Humans: Localism Beyond Food in Louisville:

The fourth annual Front Porch Republic conference will examine ways to promote a more comprehensive localist vision that both learns from and goes beyond the increasingly successful local-food movement. It will feature Wendell Berry as the keynote speaker.

Other speakers will include Bill Kauffman, Jeff Polet, Jason Peters, Katherine Boyer, Jeffrey Bilbro, Jack Ray Baker, John E. Kleber, Susannah Black, Justin Litke, and David Bosworth, among others.

Go HERE for registration.

Expanding on what Wendell Berry said

As the conversation progressed, Berry read a prayer from the 1928 Book of Common Prayer entitled, “For Every Man In His Work.” The prayer, in part, reads as follows: “Deliver us, we beseech thee, in our several callings, from the service of mammon, that we may do the work which thou givest us to do, in truth, in beauty, and in righteousness, with singleness of heart as thy servants, and to the benefit of our fellow men.”

Berry observed that the prayer advocates an economic system that both glorifies God and is for the common benefit of humanity and the creation. He went on to say that the sentiments of the prayer are “utterly alien to our own economy. We have an economy founded foursquare on the Seven Deadly Sins,” Berry said. “Just go down the list.”


Read more about the May 18th event HERE.

Crushing on Wendell Berry

Woman Crush Wednesday is a thing. So is Man Crush Monday. But is there a day for crushes on an eighty year old farmer, writer, poet, cultural critic, and activist? If not, I am now officially creating a Wendell Crush Wednesday meme for my hero Wendell Berry. Although I fear Mr. Berry will never receive the appropriate amount of exposure, respect or appreciation that he surely deserves, I would like to pop in from time to time to draw your attention to this man. With a goal of encouraging you to love him as much as I and others do.

Read much more of Josh Brown's piece at The Broad Collective.

Jason Peters quoting Wendell Berry on Aldo Leopold

The example of Leopold, who spent a good part of his life working on big problems, is to know the minute particulars of this farm here.

I might add—maybe only because I read it again recently—that in his Jefferson Lecture Wendell Berry had this to say about Leopold:

I don’t hesitate to say that damage or destruction of the land-community is morally wrong, just as Leopold did not hesitate to say so when he was composing his essay, “The Land Ethic,” in 1947. But I do not believe, as I think Leopold did not, that morality, even religious morality, is an adequate motive for good care of the land-community. The primary motive for good care and good use is always going to be affection, because affection involves us entirely. And here Leopold himself set the example. In 1935 he bought an exhausted Wisconsin farm and, with his family, began its restoration. To do this was morally right, of course, but the motive was affection.

I’ll add, and I think Berry would agree, that affection for the world is useless if it isn’t realized in affection for a place small enough to give yourself and your affection to, such as an exhausted farm in Wisconsin.

Read more by Jason Peters at Front Porch Republic

Wendell Berry, greatest living Kentucky writer?

Kentucky journalist Tom Eblen writes:

You probably can think of others worthy of consideration, too. But for me, this competition comes down to a search for Wendell Berry. No other Kentucky writer can match the quality, breadth and impact of his work over the past half-century.

Berry, who turns 80 on Aug. 5, has written dozens of novels, poems, short stories and influential essays and non-fiction books. A fellow in the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, he won the National Humanities Medal and gave the prestigious Jefferson Lecture in 2012.

The Henry County native and resident is revered internationally for elegant, no-nonsense writing that helped inspire the environmental, local food and sustainable agriculture movements.

Berry’s 1977 book, The Unsettling of America: Culture and Agriculture, has become a classic. The Unforeseen Wilderness in 1971 helped rally public opposition to flooding the Red River Gorge. In recent years, he has been an eloquent voice against destructive strip-mining practices in Appalachia.

Read more at The Bluegrass and Beyond

Tilth Washington announces 40th Anniversary Celebration

Tilth's celebration and conference will take place November 7-9, 2014.

Raj Patel joins us Saturday morning as the T-40 Keynote Speaker and Mary Berry, Executive Director of The Berry Center, who joins us Sunday afternoon as the T-40 Capnote Speaker. Daughter of Kentucky farmer and writer Wendell Berry who spoke at the first Tilth conference in 1974, Mary continues her family’s mission to bring focus to the plight of our environment and health at the hands of industrial agriculture, while honoring the work of organic and sustainable farmers in an ever-changing rural landscape.

T-40 will be no different than other conferences in that there will be ample opportunity to network after the hard work of learning is complete. The conference will kick off Friday November 7, 2014 with two day-long symposia to choose from plus an all-day information fair. Mealtimes are always perfect for visiting with friends old and new while enjoying delicious organic food. Social events planned for this year include a Friday evening Reception featuring local beer and local bites to enjoy while visiting the Poster Session; the informative and fun weekend Trade Show; and the popular annual Wine Tasting and Auction followed by the never-to-be-missed Saturday Night Dance.

Find more information at Tilth Producers of Washington