Known Need: Faith and Work in Wendell Berry’s Fiction

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From very early in my professional career, both in and out of professional ministry, I have struggled to connect my faith and my work. That clash in consciousness may have been what drew me to Wendell Berry’s 2012 short story “A Desirable Woman” and helped me relate to directly to its heroine, Laura Milby, the wife of a young preacher in fictional Sycamore.

“For nearly the whole congregation, or for all of them, and especially the men and children, there was a disconnection between the little white clapboard church with its steeple and bell, its observances and forms of worship, and the world’s daily life and work. . . . Laura recognized these disconnections in the people because she felt them, and labored over them, in herself,” Berry wrote.

This disconnect between faith and work, though not the main theme, sets a poignant backdrop to Berry’s story about Laura Milby and her husband, Williams. This town that separates its work from its worship also keeps its distance from its church—and the new young preacher and his wife—except in times of suffering.

:: CONTINUE READING ::

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Photo by A Roger Davies, via Flickr, used with permission under the Creative Commons License.

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Charity Singleton Craig

Charity Singleton Craig is a writer, author, and speaker, helping readers grow in their faith and experience true hope in the middle of life’s joys and sorrows. She is the author of My Year in Words: what I learned from choosing one word a week for one year and coauthor of On Being a Writer: 12 Simple Habits for a Writing Life That Lasts.