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On Wendell Berry's redemptive fiction

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.


Wendell Berry on the proposed closing of the University Press of Kentucky

Like a good many others these days, I would welcome an earnest public discussion about education. What is it now? What should it be? What is the right ratio of its cost to its worth? Perhaps the discussion could begin with the proposition that to be properly human our species should include a significant number of politicians and others who are competently literate, which means in part having a familiar and usable knowledge of literature and history. 

Though I have doubts and questions about our state’s system of education, I am its product, its sometime employee, and in many ways its beneficiary. As such, and as a tax-paying citizen, I want to say that the part of this system that has most steadily served the great cause of literacy in my lifetime has been the University Press of Kentucky, which is now marked for destruction by one of Gov. Matt Bevin’s proposed budget cuts that is both petty and barbaric. If it should happen, this destruction would amount to an act of censorship, for the knowledge made available by the Press belongs to the people of Kentucky, to readers now and to come. It is a part of our commonwealth, which the governor and the government are entrusted to protect, not destroy.

Read the whole article by Mr. Berry at the Louisville Courier-Journal.