Side by Side: Julian of Norwich and Wendell Berry
Wendell Berry in The Progressive, May 2015

On Wendell Berry, Spirituality and Agriculture

I found a possible answer to this question while reading the words of farmer and philosopher Wendell Berry in The Unsettling of American Culture and Agriculture. To examine how people act in the world Berry puts forward the ideal types of “ the exploiter” and “ the nurturer.” An exploiter prioritizes accumulating wealth and acting efficiently, and has a tendency towards specialization. The nurturer thinks in terms of the overall health and longevity of the system and is prone to holistic thought. Berry explains:

“The exploiter is a specialist, an expert; the nurturer is not. The standard of the exploiter is efficiency; the standard of the nurturer is care. 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.”

The main thrust of Berry’s argument is that American society has swung towards the exploiter side of the spectrum and that environmental degradation, poor health, and over specialization has resulted.

What is relevant here in regards to spirituality is the idea that every person has characteristics of the exploiter and the nurturer inside of them.

Read more at An Unexpected Excursion 


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