Wendell Berry and the Given Life

Wendell Berry and the Given Life

by Ragan Sutterfield


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Wendell Berry and the Given Life by Ragan Sutterfield

We drive to work on the stored energy of ten thousand years of sunlight. Our daily bread seems to generate miraculously from store shelves. And our communities can be connected with a billion ones and zeros over fiber optic cables. For us, the idea of being a creature can seem passé. Yet in this lonely world of mastery, in a time so dominated by human desire and design that it has been dubbed the “anthropocene,” the human age, many of us feel that we are missing some essential truth about who we are.   
The glimpses of this truth come when we lose cell reception on a long hike in the forest and our eyes are lifted to the simple marvel of trees. We feel this truth when we take up a shovel and sense the satisfying heave of dirt as we plant a modest garden. We hear this truth when we tune out the traffic and listen to the song sparrow’s melody, eavesdropping on a beauty that serves no human economy. In all this we hear a whisper of the truth that we are creatures—and we long to live in this reality. But how can we, when we have moved so far from our life source in the soil? 

For the past 50 years, Wendell Berry has been helping seekers chart a return to the practice of being creatures. Through his essays, poetry and fiction, Berry has repeatedly drawn our attention to the ways in which our lives are gifts in a whole economy of gifts.

Berry presents us with the sort of coherent vision for the lived moral and spiritual life that we need now.  His work helps us remember our givenness and embrace our life as creatures. His insights flow from a life and practices, and so it is a vision that can be practiced and lived—it is a vision that is grounded in the art of being a creature. 
Wendell Berry and the Given Life  articulates his vision for the creaturely life and the Christian understandings of humility and creation that underpin it.   

The audio edition of this book can be downloaded via Audible.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781632531223
Publisher: Franciscan Media
Publication date: 03/24/2017
Pages: 192
Sales rank: 1,305,280
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x (d)

About the Author

Ragan Sutterfield is the author of Cultivating Reality: How the Soil Might Save Us, and a memoir, This Is My Body. His work has also appeared in a variety of magazines including The Christian Century, The Oxford American, Men's Journal, Triathlete, Gourmet, Fast Company, and Books & Culture. He is an endurance athlete and long-time naturalist who loves records, film, and seeking the good life with his wife Emily and their daughters Lillian and Lucia. He has worked as a teacher, librarian and farmer, but he is most of all a reader and writer. His work also appears regularly in the Englewood Review of Books. More on Ragan's work can be found at his website RaganSutterfield.com.

Table of Contents

Foreword Bill McKibben v

Chapter 1 Givenness 1

Wendell Berry and the Art of Being a Creature

Chapter 2 Humility 13

Coming to Terms with Reality

Chapter 3 Love 24

It All Turns on Affection

Chapter 4 Economics 36

Home and Care in the Kingdom of God

Chapter 5 Work 48

Tilling and Keeping the Creation

Chapter 6 Sabbath 64

Delight and the Reorientation of Desire

Chapter 7 Stability 76

Becoming Native in an Age of Everywhere

Chapter 8 Membership 89

Joining the Community of Creation

Chapter 9 The Body and the Earth 101

Reclaiming Connection in a World of Division

Chapter 10 Language 113

Truth and the Work of Imagination

Chapter 11 Peaceableness 126

Living in Harmony with the Whole of Creation

Chapter 12 The Prophet 137

Lament, Imagination, and the Renewal of Religion

Afterword: A Conversation with Wendell Berry 151

Sources 155

Notes 157

Acknowledgments 157

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