Society’s long move from the country to the city may have desacralized their meaning, but for so long has man’s festive calendar been defined by our ecological needs and vulnerabilities that it is hard to imagine us ever dropping our seasonal traditions. Some are embedded remnants of earlier religions or the inheritance of cultures long gone. Some, however, are expressions of a personal relationship, idiosyncratic rituals that structure an individual’s life.
The best stories in the volume offer Cather-esque explorations of the links between place and people. The stories are remarkable for their dense layers, for their social, psychological, and emotional intricacies.
There is much wisdom contained in English Pastoral for suffering churches. If the last fifty years have shown that innovation and modernization aren’t the solution to our ill-health, they have also made a nostalgic return to yesteryear an impossibility.