How is one able to pick just one of Wendell Berry's writings, to be representative of the whole? And yet he exhibits such constant commitments, he defines fidelity; writing lucidly, profoundly and convincingly of our responsibilities of faithfulness in relating to God, one another, Creation and ourselves. For example, from Sex, Economy, Freedom and Community
: ''If we credit the Bible's description of the relationship between Creator and Creation, then we cannot deny the spiritual importance of our economic life. Then we must see how religious issues lead to issues of economy and how issues of economy lead to issues of art...If we understand that no artist-- no maker-- can work except by reworking the works of Creation, then we see that by our work we reveal what we think of the works of God... if we believe that we are living souls, God's dust and God's breath, acting our parts among other creatures all made of the same dust and breath as ourselves; and if we understand that we are free, within the obvious limits of mortal human life, to do evil or good to ourselves and to the other creatures-- then all acts have a supreme significance. If it is true that we are living souls and morally free, then all of us are artists. All of us are makers, within mortal terms and limits, of our lives, of one another's lives, of the things we need and use... everybody is an artist-- either good or bad, responsible or irresponsible.'' Berry faithfully examines this commitment through the whole knot of our lives-- literary, economic, political, educational, and agricultural.
An Eighth Day View:
In this new collection of essays, Wendell Berry continues his work as one of America's most necessary social commentators. With wisdom and clear, ringing prose, he tackles head-on some of the most difficult problems which face us as we near the end of the twentieth century.
Berry begins the title essay with the Anita Hill-Clarence Thomas hearings as an example of a "process that has been well established and well respected for at least two hundred years--the process . . . of community disintegration." Community, a "locally understood interdependence of local people, local culture, local economy, and local nature," bound by trust and affection, is "being destroyed by the desires and ambitions of both private and public life which for want of the intervention of community interests, are also destroying one another."
He then moves on to elucidate connections between sexual brutality and economic brutality, and the role of art and free speech. Berry forcefully addresses America's unabashed pursuit of self-liberation, which he says is "still the strongest force now operating in our society." As individuals turn away from their community, they conform to a "rootless and placeless monoculture of commercial expectations and products," buying into the very economic system which is destroying the earth, our communities, and all they represent.
Throughout the book Berry asks, What is appropriate? What is worth conserving from our past and preserving in our present? What is it to be human and truly connected to others? What does it mean to be free?