The Holy Earth: The Birth of a New Land Ethic

The Holy Earth: The Birth of a New Land Ethic


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The agrarian tradition runs as an undercurrent through the entire history of literature, carrying the age-old wisdom that the necessary access of independent farmers to their own land both requires the responsibility of good stewardship and provides the foundation for a thriving civilization. At the turn of the last century, when farming first began to face the most rapid and extensive series of changes that industrialization would bring, the most compelling and humane voice representing the agrarian tradition came from the botanist, farmer, philosopher, and public intellectual Liberty Hyde Bailey. In 1915, Bailey’s environmental manifesto, The Holy Earth , addressed the industrialization of society by utilizing the full range of human vocabulary to assert that the earth’s processes and products, because they form the governing conditions of human life, should therefore be understood not first as economic, but as divine. To grasp the extent of human responsibility for the earth, Bailey called for “a new hold” that society must take to develop a “morals of land management,” which would later inspire Aldo Leopold’s “land ethic” and several generations of agrarian voices. This message of responsible land stewardship has never been as timely as now.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781619025875
Publisher: Counterpoint Press
Publication date: 12/15/2015
Edition description: Anniversary
Pages: 144
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.10(h) x 0.60(d)

About the Author

Born on a humble frontier farm in southwest Michigan, Liberty Hyde Bailey (1858-1954) went on to become the “Father of Modern Horticulture,” a leading public intellectual on the question of rural communities, and a national spokesperson for agricultural policy. His birthplace and childhood home functions as a museum and educational outreach center devoted to telling Bailey’s story and engaging the modern world with his philosophy and ideals.

John Linstrom is a writer, doctoral student, and teacher. He writes and publishes poetry and nonfiction prose, and has recently begun work on a PhD. He is the editor of The Holy Earth

Table of Contents

Foreword Wendell Berry vii

Editor's Introduction John Linstrom xviii

Retrospect xxvi

First, the Statement 3

In the beginning 5

The earth is good 7

It is kindly 9

The earth is holy 12

Second, the Consequences 15

The habit of destruction 17

The new hold 20

The brotherhood relation 25

The farmer's relation 26

The underlying training of a people 30

The neighbor's access to the earth 32

The subdividing of the land 35

A new map 39

The public program 43

The honest day's work 46

The group reaction 49

The spiritual contact with nature 52

The struggle for existence: war 55

The daily fare 61

The admiration of good materials 69

The keeping of the beautiful earth 76

The tones of industry 79

The threatened literature 81

The separate soul 85

The element of separateness in society 89

The democratic basis in agriculture 91

The background spaces. -The forest 97

A forest background for a reformatory 101

The background spaces. -The open fields 106

The background spaces. -The ancestral sea 108

Notes 111

The Liberty Hyde Bailey Museum 116

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