If you wish to steal farm products or coal or timber from a rural region, you will find it much less troubling to do so if you believe that the people are too stupid and violent to deserve the things you wish to steal from them.

– Wendell Berry in The Way of Ignorance: Imagination in Place p.49

[W]hen one passes from any abstract order, whether that of the consumer economy or Ransom’s “Statement of Principles” or a brochure from the Extension Service, to the daily life and work of one’s own farm, one passes from a relatively simplicity into a complexity that is irreducible except by disaster and ultimately is incomprehensible. It is the complexity of the life of a place uncompromisingly itself, which is at the same time the life of the world, of all Creation. One meets not only the weather and the wildness of the world, but also the limitations of one’s knowledge, intelligence, character, and bodily strength. To do this, of course, is to accept the place as an influence.

– Wendell Berry in The Way of Ignorance: Imagination in Place p.48

How To Be A Poet by Wendell Berry

(to remind myself)

Make a place to sit down.
Sit down. Be quiet.
You must depend upon
affection, reading, knowledge,
skill—more of each
than you have—inspiration,
work, growing older, patience,
for patience joins time
to eternity. Any readers
who like your work,
doubt their judgment.

Breathe with unconditional breath
the unconditioned air.
Shun electric wire.
Communicate slowly. Live
a three-dimensioned life;
stay away from screens.
Stay away from anything
that obscures the place it is in.
There are no unsacred places;
there are only sacred places
and desecrated places.

Accept what comes from silence.
Make the best you can of it.
Of the little words that come
out of the silence, like prayers
prayed back to the one who prays,
make a poem that does not disturb
the silence from which it came.


Big thanks to Bill over at Practicing Resurrection for introducing me to this poem and to Wendell Berry in general.

Surely no sane and thoughtful person can imagine any government of our time sitting comfortably at the feet of Jesus while he is saying “Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them that despitefully use you and persecute you.”

– Wendell Berry in The Art of the Commonplace: Christianity and the Survival of Creation p. 319

Because (modern Christianity) has been so exclusively dedicated to incanting anemic souls into Heaven, it has been made the tool of much earthly villainy. It has, for the most part, stood silently by while a predatory economy has ravaged the world, destroyed its natural beauty and health, divided and plundered its human communities and households. It has flown the flag and chanted the slogans of empire. It has assumed with the economist that “economic forces” automatically work for the good and has assumed with the industrialists and militarists that technology determines history. It has assumed with almost everybody that “progress” is good, that it is good to be modern and up with the times. It has admired Caeser and comforted him in his depredations and defaults. But in its de facto alliance with Caeser, Christianity connives directly in the murder of Creation.

– Wendell Berry in The Art of the Commonplace: Christianity and the Survival of Creation p.319