Featured Reviews, VOLUME 5

The Humane Vision of Wendell Berry [ Feature Review ]

Page 2 – The Humane Vision of Wendell Berry

Overall, of course, the editors have chosen essays that celebrate the life-affirming (and very John-the-Baptist-like voice) message of the Kentucky farmer-writer.  From British Distributists to sex and marriage; from “Democratic Self-governance to Berry as a new kind of St. Benedict, one will find that Berry has touched on many seeming disparate topics.  Somehow, though it all comes together in his words.

As mentioned, the essays don’t stop at examining Berry’s numerous essays; Luke Schlueter discusses Berry’s poetry (perhaps the least discussed kind of his writing) and Anthony Esolen draws comparisons between Dante’s Divine Comedy and Jayber Crow.

The greatest value of this book is probably having a goodly portion of Berry’s work distilled, critiqued, praised, and synthesized with other thinking.  Consider it a one-stop source for Berry-ana.

Wendell Berry might be considered a prophet.  He calls us to examine our economic assumptions, to care for the gifts of soil, water, and air in ways that move beyond “reduce, reuse, recycle.”  He does not see the dualism that plagues North American Christianity as harmonious with the Bible.  He is not content with industrial models for resource extraction or education.  He is a farmer, rooted in a place, married to one woman for much of his life, who longs for a better America.

As mentioned bove, The Humane Vision of Wendell Berry is not a collection to give to a first-time reader of Berry.  But it might be the piece, in hand with his many other works, which spurs people to demanding something better for their town, village, or city,  to work to create a humane vision for their place.


Scot F. Martin teaches high school English and is a Master Naturalist.  He lives with his wife and children in Redford, Michigan.

Reading for the Common Good
From ERB Editor Christopher Smith

"This book will inspire, motivate and challenge anyone who cares a whit about the written word, the world of ideas, the shape of our communities
and the life of the church." 

-Karen Swallow Prior

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C. Christopher Smith is the founding editor of The Englewood Review of Books. He is also author of a number of books, including most recently How the Body of Christ Talks: Recovering the Practice of Conversation in the Church (Brazos Press, 2019). Connect with him online at: C-Christopher-Smith.com

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