Tag: Wendell Berry
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.
What is being outlined here is fundamentally a Wendell Berry conservatism: our solutions are not global in nature. They might not even be national in nature. It asks individuals to get involved at the lowest possible scale, in church and on school boards, to be productive in the home and show up in a community as ways to build an emergent virtuous and meaningful life now.
Beyond writing about craftmanship and antique furniture, M&T explores ideas about human work in a technological age, work in the context of community, and the relationship between craft and tradition. Regardless of your interest in the nuances of woodworking, many Porchers would find reading M&T to be worthwhile.
“Choose you this day whom you will serve,” the Old Testament leader, Joshua, charged his fellow Jews. And that choice, while crucial, while fundamental, must also be borne out during a lifetime of choices.
I am not faulting Wirzba for failing to include these examples of more conservative Christians who practice agrarianism. But I would ask whether his theology of agrarianism, written in an academic context, can speak to and challenge the church at large.
If we can foster a freedom to flourish rather than our modern freedom of choice, and if we can recognize versions of a common good appropriate to different real entities of social order from the family to the town to the nation, integrated with the rest of nature at scales from the local and regional to the biosphere, then the need to impose order through laws and regulations is minimized, replaced by deliberative, cooperative action towards a common good.
The real challenge is to make the wisdom of the past live in the present. Such work is analogous to sprouting a seed, playing a song, cooking and enjoying a family recipe.
If students grew up moving from city to city, or if they hail from a soulless suburb, or if they are inevitably complicit in economic and social systems they deplore, does reading Berry put them on a path to despair?
The status of NFTs in the world of 2027 depends, in large part, on how well we’re able to incorporate them into our positive vision of the good. We can, and should, step back and question them. But to stay removed from the craze is to abdicate our duty to shape the future in accordance with our values. The NFT trend marches on: will we help to choose its destination, or will we resign ourselves to futile finger-wagging?