Tag Archives: calling

Old Literature: Wendell Berry’s “The Gift of Good Land”

Flourish Online Magazine has been running a feature celebrating the 30th anniversary of the publication of Wendell Berry’s essay, “The Gift of Good Land”.  This essay draws lessons on “ecological and agricultural responsibility” not from Genesis 1 or 2 or even Romans 8, but from the Old Testament story of God’s gift of the Promised Land to Abraham and his descendants:  “a divine gift to a fallen people.”  And that certainly applies to us, doesn’t it?

Read the essay here, and comments from many leaders in the field of creation care here.  Below is my contribution to this collection…

On being introduced to the world of Christian environmental stewardship about ten years ago,  I found early on that I had a lot of catching up to do.  Wendell Berry was one of the authors I was directed to  who has taught and continues to teach me.  Evidently, this is true of many of my colleagues as well.  It is a privilege to be counted among those who have sat at Wendell’s feet and learned from him, and I am sure I am not the only one who wishes that that learning could have been in person rather than through the pages of his books. Continue reading

Now we see the future, darkly

Regular readers are aware of my habit of collecting interesting conversations – usually on airplanes – and using these to draw out observations and occasionally conclusions about the state of the creation care effort as it relates to ordinary people.

Keeping in mind that we’re dealing with anecdotes, not data, there are still useful things that can be learned from talking with ordinary people. This month’s candidates are a business college Dean and an automotive company executive, and I want to say at the start that I plunged in hoping to learn from them. As far as I was concerned, they were experts. Continue reading

Lessons from the life of a wood-worker

James Krenov (NY Times photo)

James Krenov died recently.

No, you don’t remember him.  It would be quite surprising if you’d ever heard of him, unless you are one of the dwindling number of genuine ‘cabinet makers’ in the world today.  I hadn’t heard of him either – but his obituary in the New York Times this week makes me wish I had known him. Continue reading

When you see my farm, you see my soul…

Drive about forty-five minutes northeast from Madison Wisconsin to the town of Columbus. Then go northwest out of town on State Highway 16 and you’ll come to Fountain Prairie farm. Pull into the driveway and park between the house and the barn, step out of your car, and take a look around.

You will quickly realize that this place is different from other farms. You have been driving through farmland for an hour – mile after mile of rows of corn and acres of soybeans. Here you are standing on grass. Grass pasture and prairie stretches from border to border. And you’re looking at some of the most interesting – and beautiful – cows in the state of Wisconsin. Continue reading

Three cheers for Luddism

In my hometown lives a baker.  The very ordinary name of his business (“Madison Sourdough”) hides the fact that he’s a European trained master pastry chef.  Croissants, danish, brioche – the stuff is, if not worth dying for, certainly worth driving several extra miles across town early in the day to grab the last items before someone else gets them.

Still-life with Brioche by Chardin (Wikipedia Commons)
Still-life with Brioche by Chardin (Wikipedia Commons)

Now, I’ve been a fan of most of what he makes for quite a while, but his brioche are some of the best pastry I’ve ever eaten.  Which has led to a couple of very interesting conversations:

About a month ago my faithful readers may recall I was in Washington DC during the time of the Inauguration.  One of the mornings there I found myself, with Daughter #1, in a very authentic french patisserie in Bethesda Maryland.  Guess what was in the pastry case?  Brioche!  But these looked a bit different from those I’ve become accustomed to  in Madison.  A long conversation with the woman who ran the shop followed.  She had baked everything in the shop herself.  She had serious doubts as to whether the so-called brioche from Madison was the real thing, and in what would have to be described as a passionate defense of her craft, grabbed a brioche, sliced it in half, and stood there while we sampled it, with the following (please imagine a strong French accent):  “If this is not the best brioche you’ve ever had, I want to know it…”

Continue reading