Slow Church: Embodying Justice, Peace and Love [Video]

Last Saturday, I had the opportunity to do a brief talk (between broadcast sessions) at The Justice Conference Indianapolis. I gave a short description of Slow Church that focused on our call to embody justice, peace and love in our local congregations. I also read part of one of my favorite poems by Wendell Berry and highlighted four themes in it that are essential to Slow Church: 1) Stability / Rootedness 2) Listening to our neighbors and the land in our place 3) Imagining flourishing futures for church and neighborhood 4) Working  with and for others, so that they can do these same … [Read more...]

The most important book of 2013…

Wendell-Berry-This-Day

My pick for the most important book of 2013 is the new collection of Wendell Berry's Sabbath Poems, entitled This Day. I'll admit that it was a really close call between this book and David Mikics's volume Slow Reading in a Hurried Age, but Berry's book wins by a nose as it takes a broader view, and offers not only carefully-crafted poems, but a way of living and being in the world.  Slow Reading starts to move in the same direction, but never seems to look much beyond the scope of the reader, his or her book and its author.I posted a sample poem from Berry's collection on this blog … [Read more...]

Life On the Threshold: Reading the father of the rural life movement in the heart of the modern city

UrbanNat-header

  I have been talking about the work of Liberty Hyde Bailey a lot recently....  (See this previous post for instance)  So, I decided to republish this short essay on Bailey here.  Of all the things I've written over the years, this is one of my favorite pieces. This essay originally appeared in Catapult Magazine, March 2009.  Life on the threshold Reading the father of the rural life movement in the heart of the modern city   About a year ago, my friend Ragan Sutterfield recommended that I read Liberty Hyde Bailey’s The Holy Earth.  At some earlier point in my … [Read more...]

Blessed Are the Poor in Spirit

Simple-Weight

I was delighted to get a copy of poet Tania Runyan's collection Simple Weight last week, which fortuitously is structured around the backbone of the Beatitudes.Another collection of Runyan's poems, A Thousand Vessels was recently named a 2012 Englewood Honor Book (as one of the best books of the year).Simple Weight is going to make an excellent companion to my reading daily through the Sermon on the Mount, and I hope to share a few of the poems here between now and Easter.I begin today with the opening poem of the collection, one whose title are the opening words of the first … [Read more...]

How to Be a Poem

Today I was thinking about spiritual formation and what came to mind was a poem by Wendell Berry, the Kentucky writer, farmer, and activist. The poem is called "How To Be a Poet." But I think it could be re-titled "How To Be a Poem." Here's what I mean: the New Testament says we are "God's workmanship." The word used for "workmanship," poiema, is the same word from which we get our word "poem." Thus, it's not too much of a stretch to say that we are "God's poem." So much of what Berry describes here is good advice not just for the poet but for anyone who wants to put themselves in the loving h … [Read more...]

The Taste of the Place

The Pines Vineyard

One of the keys to understanding Slow Church is captured in the seventeenth-century French phrase le goût de terroir, which can be translated “the taste of the place.”Carlo Petrini, co-founder of the Slow Food movement, writes often about terroir as “the combination of natural factors (soil, water, slope, height above sea level, vegetation, microclimate) and human ones (tradition and practice and cultivation) that gives a unique character to each small agricultural locality and the food grown, raised, made, and cooked there.” Thus, a Pinot noir from Oregon’s Willamette Valley takes on the t … [Read more...]

Learning Contentment (from Thomas Merton and Liberty Hyde Bailey)

Bailey-WNW

This is the second in my promised series of reflections on Liberty Hyde Bailey’s poetry.[ Bailey's collection of poems Wind and Weather, has just been released by The Englewood Review of Books as a bargain-priced Kindle ebook.  It's well worth it! ]Read the first post in the series here: Cultivating Wonder.Wind and WeatherPassengers on the cosmic sea We know not whence nor whither, -- 'Tis happiness enough to be Complete with wind and weather.This first and title poem in this collection of Bailey's poetry reflects the importance of contentment (and particularly with t … [Read more...]


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