Tag Archives: Wendell Berry

Earth Week 2012 – Two Perspectives

Yesterday was Earth Day, this week is Earth Week.  Many of my creation care friends are in Washington DC right now involved in a number of large scale events that we all hope will have great impact on the environmental and creation care conversation going on in the US in general and within the evangelical community in particular.  I’m not in Washington; I’ve just returned from the bustling metropolis of Arcadia, Florida – where a different kind of and altogether remarkable creation care event took place this weekend.  Let me tell you about it… Continue reading

The Creation Care Movement is Alive and Well!

Photo courtesy Flickr CC License

The evangelical creation care movement, though almost invisible to many, has been around for quite a few years.  One of its most visible historical markers is probably the founding of Au Sable Institute in 1979, thirty-three years ago now – but well before that date there were many individuals and a few small organizations seeking to promote what was then called ‘Christian environmental stewardship.’  There are many more of us now, and there is a lot of good work going on, but we still fly below the radar in most cases.

So it was enlightening and important that many of the current key players in this movement were on the phone together last week to share what we’re all doing, and perhaps more to the point, what God is doing to continue to foster and strengthen this movement.

Here’s a brief summary with bullet points of the highlights.  [If you’d like to hear a recording of the phone call yourself, just call  (507) 726-4220 and choose to listen to recording #1.]  Continue reading

Warm Hearts and Cool Heads:Thoughts on Economics and the Environment

Yellowstone Park - Madison RiverA couple of weeks ago I attended a conference in Bozeman, Montana.  The announced topic was ‘Human and Environmental Health: Social Justice Implications: A Program for Religious Leaders and others…’  The setting was magnificent:  A century old railroad inn an hour’s drive from the western entrance to Yellowstone Park, surrounded by the mountain ranges for which Bozeman is famous.  But what made this conference unique was the oxymoronic nature of the sponsors.  FREE (The Foundation for Research on Economics and the Environment) is a conservative institution dedicated to the application of what they would consider ‘sound economic principles’ to environmental problems.  I call them my ‘libertarian economist environmentalist friends’, and while I happily retain my own convictions, I found much that was profitable in this conference.

New Friends

As with any gathering of people around a common concern, the most profitable and enjoyable aspect of this conference was the people.  There were just 25 of us including presenters, and we represented a wide range of intellectual and religious  and career backgrounds.  A number of mainline protestants (Methodist, Episcopalian, Presbyterian and so on), a couple of Catholics, one Orthodox priest, two Rabbis (including one who survived the Holocaust as a teenager), and yes, four or five evangelicals. Someone commented than an afternoon hike could have been a joke:  “A priest, a rabbi and a minister went up a mountain…” Continue reading

Easter People – in a Good Friday World?

courtesy Thomas Schneider

This is the message we have just sent from Care of Creation to our friends and partners around the world. It’s topic is appropriate to Our Father’s World friends and readers, I think. May you have a truly blessed and deeply meaningful Holy Weekend whereever you are!

“Easter People in a Good Friday world.”

This phrase grabbed the attention of a few people earlier this week – in part, I suppose, because it was heard on NPR. Host Michele Norris was interviewing writer Ann Lamott about Easter. Citing the tension she feels between the world as it should be and the world as it is, Lamott quoted another author, Barbara Johnson: “We are Easter people living in a Good Friday world.”

Of course, most of the people around us are actually Good Friday people living in a Good Friday world. Continue reading

Old Literature: Jayber Crow on Preaching and Preachers

Via Flickr-click for source image

["Old Literature" is an occasional series of posts on works from the past (and in some cases, the not-so-long-ago-past) that still speak today.  Here are some of the earlier posts.]

Wendell Berry maybe best known for his essays on agrarian (hence environmental and ecological) topics; his greatest work, to my mind, is in his novels, all of which take place in and around and concern the “membership” of Port William, a small river town in Kentucky.  My wife Susanna and I recently finished reading (aloud, of course!) Hannah Coulter, and we are now halfway through Jayber Crow.  Yes, I know we’re working backwards – that’s how life is sometimes.  Anyway – last night’s selection caught my attention and seems worth sharing.  Enjoy the selections – but better, get out and read the book!

Jayber, whose religion is real and deep and passionate and mostly of the unorganized variety, is the town’s barber – and gravedigger – and permanent bachelor – and, in this chapter, has just become the Port William’s church janitor.  Jayber’s  observations on the nature of the preaching (and preachers) in this rural church are important, and reflect Berry’s perception of a fundamental flaw in the Christian faith as practiced at that time and in that place: Continue reading

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