Tag: Need to be Whole
Brecon, Wales. Stories are a necessary part of healing and wholeness. I don’t just mean a story we may like or we tell ourselves...
The various parts—historical and autobiographical, theological and literary—all contribute to the central thread: that we seek wholeness, and that wholeness depends on better understanding ourselves and our damaged, but not lost, chances for community.
Berry, with an insistence that defies despair, is still carrying out his calling. He notes the discouraging odds his kind has faced not just now but in the past. Imperial presence in whatever its forms has long imperiled the agrarian ideal.
Berry connects these major themes from The Hidden Wound to other themes from his many works—work, agrarianism, industrialization, citizenship, affection, and place. In so doing, he offers his readers a fuller-orbed view of his thinking than maybe he has ever done previously. In the end, at least after my first close reading of the volume, I think this work of integration is the most valuable contribution of The Need to Be Whole.
These are not compassionate times—not in the public square, and not in all too much of our increasingly chaotic private life, though I think many people are trying. Mr. Berry knows this very well. And so about halfway through the book, he takes a few pages to acknowledge he was told, more than once, that his reputation would be marred by showing any sympathy to the life or plight of any Confederate.
If I attempt to follow Berry’s underwater route too closely, I’m afraid I will drown. Rather than try to summarize it, then, I will instead distill from it a set of guidelines for improving the quality of our language. The shouters who dominate our public discourse are unlikely to heed Berry’s advice, but those of us who are weary of shrill denunciations have much to learn from Berry’s sanity.
No one can be whole alone; no one can be free alone. Rather, Berry holds that “[t]o be whole and free is…to be at home in a place and in a community where one knows and is known,” and where its boundaries include soils, waters, plants, and animals.