Jack R. Baker and Jeffrey Bilbro, professors of English at Spring Arbor University, share their exploration of Mr. Berry's fiction.
Berry describes himself as a “marginal” Christian, and his position on the outskirts of our dominant, consumerist culture makes his a voice from the wilderness—one many evangelicals with more orthodox theology might do well to consider. Perhaps the greatest threat to the church today isn’t falling for doctrinal heresy but implicitly adopting the consumerist, self-centered assumptions of our Western culture. It’s all too easy for American Christians to assent to the right doctrines on Sunday while inhabiting a counter-Christian economy the rest of the week, loving ourselves more than God and neighbor.
Both Berry’s writings and his life challenge Christians to be rooted, fruit-bearing members of their communities—“to stand like slow growing trees / on a ruined place, renewing, enriching it.” This challenge is made most clearly in his Port William fiction, where broken, fallible characters work to embody Scripture in their daily lives. These stories act as parables, seeding our imaginations to consider redemptive ways of inhabiting our neighborhoods.
Read all of "The Rooted Faith in Wendell Berry's Fiction" at The Gospel Coalition.