Archives For Land


[easyazon_image align=”left” height=”333 identifier=”0316342262″ locale=”US” src=”” tag=”douloschristo-20″ width=”218″]A Book About Us
A Review of

The Ground Beneath Us:
From the Oldest Cities to the Last Wilderness, What Dirt Tells Us About Who We Are
Paul Bogard

Hardcover: Little, Brown, 2017
Buy Now: [ [easyazon_link identifier=”0316342262″ locale=”US” tag=”douloschristo-20″]Amazon[/easyazon_link] ] [ [easyazon_link identifier=”B01GZY28PO” locale=”US” tag=”douloschristo-20″]Kindle[/easyazon_link] ]

Reviewed by Sam Chamelin


Paul Bogard is all of us.

Well, most of us.  Bogard established himself as an important voice for environmental issues in his highly recognized The End of Night.  Bogard’s first book took us on a journey to the stars, or the lack thereof, highlighting the loss of genuine darkness in our LED-saturated culture, and how that shapes us and our environments. Bogard shows himself fluent in a variety of languages – science, technology, anthropology, and even theology.  In The Ground Beneath Us, Bogard continues honing and sharpening his multi-faceted voice, turning his attention to the soil with a similar literary recipe. The Ground Beneath Us is a well-paced, diverse exploration of the various grounds that humans trod, from the paved surfaces of Manhattan to the thawing tundra of Alaska, both in how we have shaped these grounds, and how the ground shapes us.

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[easyazon_image align=”left” height=”333″ identifier=”B0140PFOZG” locale=”US” src=”” tag=”douloschristo-20″ width=”222″]Memory Carved Into the Land

A Review of 

Riverine: A Memoir
from Anywhere but Here
Angela Palm

Paperback: Graywolf Press, 2016
Buy Now: [ [easyazon_link identifier=”B0140PFOZG” locale=”US” tag=”douloschristo-20″]Amazon[/easyazon_link] ]
[ [easyazon_link identifier=”B0140PFOZG” locale=”US” tag=”douloschristo-20″]Kindle[/easyazon_link] ** $2.99 for a limited time ]


Reviewed by Sarah Lyons


How is it possible to forget something that the land itself remembers?

When Angela Palm was in high school, her next-door neighbor and the boy she loved was sentenced to life in prison.  Corey, just coming off drugs and suffering from withdrawal—details Palm would not learn until much later in her life—murdered two of their elderly neighbors and then stole the couple’s car, lighting it on fire a few towns away in an attempt to erase what he’d done.  In the days that followed his arrest, Palm’s rural Indiana hometown would speculate as to what his motives were.  Her government class took the opportunity to talk about opposing views on the death penalty.  Coworkers whispered rumors until they noticed her listening, and then silenced themselves in a weak attempt to protect her.  No one asked Palm if she was okay, and so she buried the trauma silently inside her.

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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.

***  [easyazon_link cloaking=”default” keywords=”Wendell Berry” localization=”default” locale=”US” nofollow=”default” new_window=”default” tag=”douloschristo-20″]Books by Wendell Berry[/easyazon_link]  |  [easyazon_link cloaking=”default” keywords=”Wendell Berry Poems” localization=”default” locale=”US” nofollow=”default” new_window=”default” tag=”douloschristo-20″]Poetry[/easyazon_link]   |  [easyazon_link cloaking=”default” keywords=”Wendell Berry Novel” localization=”default” locale=”US” nofollow=”default” new_window=”default” tag=”douloschristo-20″]Fiction[/easyazon_link]  ***

Hope you enjoy these recordings!

#10 – On Online Community

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[easyazon-image align=”left” asin=”1405191716″ locale=”us” height=”333″ src=”” width=”222″ alt=”A. Fiona Mackenzie” ]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: [ [easyazon-link asin=”1405191716″ locale=”us”]Amazon[/easyazon-link] ] [ [easyazon-link asin=”B00A3JA7AG” locale=”us”]Kindle[/easyazon-link] ]

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.

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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.

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“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.

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[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.

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“Tomatoes Gone Bad

A review of

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

Review by Alex Joyner.

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.

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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.

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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


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