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 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.
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.
In their newest incarnation, American racial preferences are advertised to the public as compensating for prior pro-white discrimination and promoting racial diversity. Problems of definition persist under the new order of things, however. There is still no central race bureau, but there is no shortage of guidelines and administrative decisions trying to find the boundaries between preferred races and non-preferred ones.
A decent society must be characterized by individuals who reject designations of class guilt and innocence, who are capable of seeing the image of God in the face of the other, and who are willing to forgive. The alternative is the will-to-power that, in practical terms, becomes the rage-to-destroy.