Wendell Berry reads "A Half Pint of Old Darling"

Many thanks to The Membership Podcast for bringing this video to our attention.

As part of Drennon Springs History Day, Henry County farmer, writer and activist Wendell Berry read his short story “A Half Pint of Old Darlin’,” from Watch with Me, a Port William Membership collection that took place in Goforth, a fictional stand-in loosely based on Drennon Springs, Kentucky.

Listen to The Membership discuss this story and "The Lost Bet" ... HERE.


Response to a recent review of Wendell Berry's essays

Instead of this Christian vision, Scialabba calls for “a pious paganism, a virtuous rationalism.” Berry’s early writing did espouse a kind of pious paganism, but Berry ultimately found that insufficient and returned to his Christian tradition and language. As Scialabba’s largely sympathetic review attests, however, Berry’s theological vision remains winsome, attractive even to those who don’t share it. Throughout his essays, Berry pairs his theological, moral arguments with ecological, pragmatic ones. This approach enables him to build common ground with people like Scialabba who don’t share his belief in God.

Read all of "Love Is its Own Justification: Wendell Berry and the Lure of Political Efficacy" by Jeffery Bilbro at Front Porch Republic.


On Wendell Berry and Antimodernism

Wendell Berry is probably the best-known and most influential antimodernist alive today, at least in the English-speaking world. Besides being a prolific essayist, novelist, story writer, and poet, Berry is a farmer in the Kentucky River Valley, an experience that has provided him with his material, his message, and his pulpit. He did not come to farming in midlife, as a novelty or a pastoral retreat. He grew up where he now farms, and his family has been farming in the area for many generations. Farming is the deepest layer of his mind; writing—learned at the University of Kentucky and then at Stanford in a famous seminar with Wallace Stegner—is the upper layer. That upper layer itself is divided: the fiction (a selection was issued last year by the Library of America) and poetry are slow-moving and deep-gauged, beautifully observed and full of interior incident, never loud or didactic. The essays, by contrast, though full of elegantly phrased and powerfully rhythmic sentences, are intensely earnest, aiming not to entertain or even to instruct but to convince and move. It’s been a feat, writing eight or so novels, several books of stories, several more of poems, and hundreds of lengthy essays and occasional pieces, all while managing a 117-acre farm, with only his wife and (occasionally) his children to help him. It’s an equal feat, traversing registers: the droll, meditative equanimity of his fiction, and the ardor, sometimes anger, of his nonfiction.

Read all of "Back to the Land: Wendell Berry in the Path of Modernity" by George Scialabba at The Baffler.


Season Two of The Membership: A Wendell Berry Podcast

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It’s good to see that the conversation continues at The Membership Podcast.

Hosted by Jason Hardy, John Pattison, and Tim Wasem since November 2018 and intending to discuss all of Mr. Berry's work in a mostly chronological order, the project has moved into its second season, with Episode Three posted just this past week.

The three collaborators offer both congenial chatter and well-focused insights around the works at hand and Mr. Berry in general. They occasionally break the routine with "interviews with farmers, makers, artists, writers, activists, and folks of all stripes who are responding to Berry’s writings in their own places."

Highly recommended. Check it out.

The Membership: A Wendell Berry Podcast


Wendell Berry's 1993 reprinted collection reviewed

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Sex, Economy, Freedom & Community is a departure from reality in that it is hopeful and romantic, and reality is bureaucratic and corporate. In an age when gnostic spirituality and transhumanism are valorized, however, we are quick to call the modest philosophy of people like Wendell Berry untenable. With the lofty promises every sterling new gadget gives us, it’s reflective that it seems impossible to return to a place that had already existed, while achieving eternal youth is likely a work in progress in a California lab. But in creating a fantasy world of the past in the present, the reader must face the prospect of a future that isn’t much different than the physically and spiritually polluted one that Berry pathologized.

Read all of "Poets of Brutality and Redemption" by Marlo Safi at The University Bookman