Archives For Land

 

Wendell Berry

Today is the 80th birthday of Kentucky farmer/writer Wendell Berry!

I realize that there is some irony in doing this (Berry was, after all, the man who stood firm and penned “Why I am not going to buy a computer“), but to commemorate the occasion we offer the Top 10 online recordings of Berry to date. These recordings, some brief and some long, serve as a wonderful guide to the breadth and depth of Wendell Berry’s work: fiction, poetry, technology, community, land, etc., all the great genres and themes in which he has written.

***  Books by Wendell Berry  |  Poetry   |  Fiction  ***

Hope you enjoy these recordings!

#10 – On Online Community

Continue Reading…

 

A Land of Possibility and Community

A Feature review of

Places of Possibility: Property, Nature, and Community Land Ownership
A. Fiona Mackenzie

Paperback: Wiley-Blackwell, 2013
Buy now: [ Amazon ] [ Kindle ]

Reviewed by Sam Edgin

Generally we speak of ownership – especially property ownership – in binary terms. A house, a hillside, or a stretch of farmland is owned either privately or publicly. As there is little else we know, we are largely incapable of thinking otherwise. A mountain is either the property of the government, who will probably preserve it as public land or stick some military installation or communications array on top of it (but more popularly the former); or it is owned privately with farmland running along its base or ski slopes splayed across its face. Or, to boil it down a bit more, we generally see land turned towards conservation in an attempt to preserve the natural resources, or employed for what we think of as “human” use, that is, for building or energy or farming. In Places of Possibility: Property, Nature, and Community Land Ownership A. Fiona Mackenzie presents a stream of qualitative research that wants us to believe there is another way.

Continue Reading…

 

Fred Bahnson responds...Our new print issue features two reviews of

Making Peace with the Land: God’s Call to Reconcile with Creation.

(Resources for Reconciliation Series)

Norman Wirzba and Fred Bahnson.

Paperback: IVP, 2012.
Buy now: [ Amazon ]

Chris Smith’s appreciative review is available only in the print magazine.
Brent Aldrich’s semi-critical review (click here to read – PDF) challenges us with the question of how our eschatology shapes the ways in which we pursue reconciliation with the land.

We gave Fred Bahnson the opportunity to respond to Aldrich’s review and he was kind enough to do so…

In response to Brent Aldrich’s review of our book Making Peace With the Land, I wish to clarify what I believe are some fundamental misunderstandings and elisions on the part of the reviewer.

Mr. Aldrich’s main bone to pick, it seems to me, is his claim that our book exhibits an “overly-ruralized eschatology.” I think this is a mistaken accusation. First of all, the examples I wrote about were explicitly chosen to show how we might reconcile with the land in variety of places, both rural and urban. From the deserts of the Sahel to church gardens to a suburban farm (ECHO, just North of Ft. Lauderdale) to inner city Curitiba, a city of 2.1 million people, I tried to present the full spectrum of possibilities even in such a short book.

Despite the wide spectrum presented, Mr. Aldrich accuses us of a rural bias, which he dismissively calls “pastoral,” bemoaning that we don’t give enough attention to cities. If a city of 2.1 million people isn’t urban enough for him, then there’s not much I can say about that. But regardless, he is correct to say that we do focus more on making peace with rural land rather than urban land, and that’s not so much a bias as it is a declaration of an ecological reality: cities depend on the countryside much more than the other way around.

Continue Reading…

 

“For Farmers, For Landowners,
For Citizens and Neighbors

A review of
??American Georgics:
Writings on Farming, Culture and the Land
.
Brian Donahue, Sara Gregg, Edwin Hagenstein, eds.

Review by Rachel Reynolds Luster.


American GeorgicsAmerican Georgics:
Writings on Farming, Culture and the Land
.
Brian Donahue, Sara Gregg, Edwin Hagenstein, eds.
Hardback: Yale UP, 2011.
Buy now:  [ Amazon ]

American Georgics: Writing on Farming, Culture, and the Land, offers readers a concise and well-heeled collection of agrarian thought and writings from the founding of our Republic through the current wave, including speeches, essays, excerpts from novels, and poems. The writings in this volume trace the evolution of “the economic, political, social, and ecological dimensions of agrarianism” (372). Some of the authors will be most familiar to readers of agrarian writing including James Madison, Henry David Thoreau, and Wendell Berry; others, such as Jesse Buell, Louisa May Alcott, and Nate Shaw (Ned Cobb), will come as delightful surprises. The collection is rich in many ways but one of its greatest strength comes from the variety of perspectives offered but perhaps the most striking aspect of reading American Georgics is its undeniable relevance to our current political, economic, and agricultural moment.

Editors, Edwin C. Hagenstein, Sara M. Gregg, and Brian Donahue present the pieces in a fairly linear and chronological fashion beginning with the development of our nation’s identity and governance, and passing in turn through a burgeoning industrial economy, American Romanticism of the mid-nineteenth century, the advent of industrial agriculture, regional agrarian movements of the early to mid-twentieth century, and other back-to-the-land movements that would follow, and on through the current zeitgeist of locavores, school gardens, urban farmers, and the gourmetism of real food. The book is laid out in seven sections following these themes, introduced by a thoughtful essay on the grouping, and then each individual piece is preceded by a contextual biography of the author.

Continue Reading…

 

[Apologies to readers who receive the ERB via email, which came this week as two separate emails,
due to a technical error. This will not be a recurring problem! ]

“A Deep and Abiding Communion”

A review of
Food and Faith: A Theology of Eating.
by Norman Wirzba.

Review by Mary Bowling.

[ Read an excerpt from this book… ]

FOOD AND FAITH - Norman WirzbaFood and Faith: A Theology of Eating.
Norman Wirzba.
Paperback: Cambridge UP, 2011.
Buy now: [ Amazon ]

At first glance, Food and Faith: a Theology of Eating might seem like the newest in the long and popular line of books for foodies, in which case the question would be “What now?”  Michael Pollan, Joel Salatin, end even Wendell Berry  have done an effective job of getting their point across, and have seemingly been able to foster in a growing percentage of the American population at least a recognition that the system that provides most of the country with food is flawed to the point of creating widespread disease instead of health in both people and places.  Anyone who would seek out yet another book related to the modern food and agriculture industry has likely already heard this information coming and going.  But as the subtitle suggests, Food and Faith is not really a food book for foodies. It is a theology book for Christians. Norman Wirzba is certainly sensible to agrarian thought and the works of many writers who would promote more healthful ways of living and eating, and has authored or edited several other related works. What he does here however is to take the subject of food and eating- a subject that many people feel strongly about, although maybe for somewhat vague reasons- and locate it firmly within the realm of the goodness of God’s creation.

Continue Reading…

 

“Tomatoes Gone Bad

A review of

Tomatoland:
How Modern Industrial Agriculture
Destroyed Our Most Alluring Fruit
.
by Barry Estabrook.

Review by Alex Joyner.

Tomatoland:
How Modern Industrial Agriculture
Destroyed Our Most Alluring Fruit
.
Barry Estabrook.
Hardback: Andrews McMeel, 2011.
Buy Now:
[ Amazon – Hardback ]
[ Amazon -Kindle ]

With apologies to William Shakespeare:

What a piece of work is a store bought tomato,
how noble in color,
how infinite in shelf-life;
in form and roundness how excessive and admirable,
in inaction how like a wax dummy,
in taste how like a piece of cardboard:
the beauty of the world, the paragon of vegetables!
(or fruits, whatever)
And yet to me what is this quintessence of agriculture?
Store bought tomatoes delight not me –
nor canned neither, though by your redness you seem to say so.

There’s a hard science to growing tomatoes commercially.  In Florida it begins with acres of stretched white plastic covering long, straight mounds of raised dirt.  Underneath that plastic nutrients not native to the soil are injected in precise locations.  It ends with acres of burnt plants dotted with tomatoes that were not ripe at the harvest time and have now been left to compost.  In between growers spray dangerous chemicals, migrant laborers work in often inhumane conditions, and supermarkets treat American consumers to a product that is notable for its endurance, but certainly not its taste.

Continue Reading…

 

Portraits of the Prairie

A Review of


Portraits of the Prairie:
The Land that Inspired Willa Cather
.
Richard Schilling.
Hardback: University of Nebraska Press, 2011.
Buy now:  [ Amazon ]

Reviewed by Ruth Huizenga Everhart.

See an excerpt of this book here… (PDF)

Willa Cather famously said: “There are only two or three human stories, and they go on repeating themselves as fiercely as if they had never happened before.” It’s this ability to step back and see an ordinary thing with different eyes that is captured so beautifully in this unusual coffee table book. The author, Richard Schilling, has paired quotations from Willa Cather with his own original art, primarily done in watercolor, all of it focused on the Nebraska prairie.

Willa Cather, who is known for her fiction writing, spent a single year on the prairie when she was nine. At the time she disliked the rolling flat lands, but later realized how tussling with the land had shaped her. Cather’s relationship to the land is not sentimental. Rather, the solitude and rawness of the prairie sandpapered her prose to its pristine qualities.

Continue Reading…

 

Today [ August 5th] is Wendell Berry’s 77th birthday!!!

Wendell Berry

Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

 

 

Most of our readers know that his work is pretty important to the way we at the ERB think about both church and culture.

So, to celebrate his birthday, we’ve pulled together a bunch of reviews and other materials that we’ve run in the ERB over the last few years…

 


 

***First of all, you will want to
Download these Mp3’s of Wendell reading his poetry
!

Multimedia:

Continue Reading…

 

“Amateur Reading”

A review of

The Achievement of Wendell Berry:
The Hard History of Love

by Fritz Oehlschlaeger.

Review by Ragan Sutterfield.


The Achievement of Wendell BerryThe Achievement of Wendell Berry:
The Hard History of Love

Fritz Oehlschlaeger.
Hardback: UP of Kentucky, 2011.
Buy now:
[ Amazon – Hardback ]
[ Amazon – Kindle ]

I must admit, I haven’t yet finished Fritz Oehlschlaeger’s The Achievement of Wendell Berry: The Hard History of Love. Though I have been busy with a number of projects, I have had enough time in theory to read the book, so time hasn’t been the hold up. I can also say confidently that the other reason I haven’t finished the book isn’t the usual reason I abandon a volume midstream—it’s simply unreadable. Instead, I haven’t finished Oehlschlaeger’s book for two reasons—Wendell Berry has indeed achieved and written so much and second, Oehlschlaeger is such a wise and careful conversation partner with Berry’s work that I can’t help but constantly want to bring Berry more deeply into the conversation by going back, again and again to his work. So if you read this book, and you really should if you care for all things good and holy, set aside some time for it—a year or so perhaps.

Continue Reading…

 

“What does our Geography
Compel us to Believe?

A review of
What Can We Believe Where?:
Photographs of the American West.
By Robert Adams.

Reviewed by Brent Aldrich.


Robert Adams - WHAT CAN WE BELIEVE WHERE?What Can We Believe Where?:
Photographs of the American West.
Robert Adams.
Paperback: Yale UP, 2011.
Buy Now [ Amazon ]

[ Editor’s Note: One of the very first reviews we ran on this site was Brent’s review of Robert Adams’ book Why People Photograph.  We are delighted to see him return to explore Adams’ work again. ]

A new collection of Robert Adams’ more than 40 years of photographs asks in the title “What Can We Believe Where?” I’d like to not underestimate the significance of that question, but to proceed on to three related questions Adams asks in a brief foreword: “What does our geography compel us to believe? What does it allow us to believe? And what obligations, if any, follow from our beliefs?”

Before diving into the photographs, then, it seems prescient to seriously consider the ramifications of this formulation of belief. In it, Adams moves the locus of belief from abstracted objectivity into particular places and contexts, which inform the beliefs of situated communities, even as these communities, in turn, inform the place. In this formulation of reality, Adams rejects the dissociation of ‘belief’ from material reality, along with any separation of people from particular places, or generalized ideas of ‘nature’ apart from specific human practices and culture.

Continue Reading…