For the past few years, I have been hearing more and more about a Kentucky farmer named Wendell Berry. He is as much a writer as he is a farmer, but if you ask me, more than anything he is a prophet.
Wendell has written a lot of fiction and all kinds of essays and poetry. But over the past couple of years, whenever I would try to starting reading his stuff, I never knew where to start. That’s always a problem for me when I stumble onto new writers.
At last I found my entre. The Way of Ignorance and Other Essays is teaching me a lot about this gentle man who speaks boldly for the earth, its inhabitants, and its creator. For all the times I’ve wondered how to combine my rural upbringing, my concern for the environment, and my interest in world events all within the context of my Christian faith, I’ve found it in Wendell.
Here’s a couple of samples: “If we believe, as so many of us profess to do, that the Earth is God’s property and is full of His glory, how can we do harm to any part of it?” AND “‘Every man for himself’ is a doctrine for a feeding frenzy or for a panic in a burning nightclub, appropriate for sharks or hogs or perhaps a cascade of lemmings. A society wishing to endure must speak the language of care-taking, faith-keeping, kindness, neighborliness, and peace. That language is another precious resource that cannot be ‘privatized.'” AND FINALLY, “The way of ignorance, therefore, is to be careful, to know the limits and the efficacy of our knowledge. It is to be humble and to work on an appropriate scale.”
I think my new friend Wendell has a lot to say to me through his writings and his life. I hope some of you might join me in hearing them.
The Way of Ignorance and Other Essays, by Wendell Berry. Published in 2005 by Shoemaker & Hoard.