Don’t Break What You Didn’t Make!

Don’t Break What You Didn’t Make! February 8, 2007

tree_photos_s.jpgThe great American essayist, Wendell Berry, in his important collection of essays, The Unsettling of America, writes:

It is possible, I think, to say that this is a Christian agriculture, formed upon the understanding that it is sinful for people to misuse or destroy what they did not make. The Creation is a unique, irreplaceable gift, therefore to be used with humility, respect, and skill.

I love reading Berry. He has such a beautiful and powerful way with words. His writing is very direct and challenging to our notions of ambition, success and personal growth and well-being. Berry bought a small farm in Kentucky, his home state, in 1965, and has farmed it to the present day. He’s also written over 25 books of poems, 16 collections of essays, 11 novels and short story collections. His deep conviction is that our work should be deeply rooted and responsive to one’s place.

The photograph is from my friend, Mark Hemmings’ nature photography.

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  • The University Library, where I work, did not have any of his agrarian writings. This was an institution founded as an agricultural school! Fortunately, I have the power to suggest books for collection development. They just purchased Unsettling of America and I am waiting to see if other titles will be added soon.

    You should try Gene Logsdon or Wes Jackson if you like Berry. I also received two books for Christmas by David Kline, an Amish author, that look promising.

  • awesome! i love book suggestions.

  • I like the idea of one’s work being rooted in and connected to place. I think this can happen even in an urban setting.

  • i agree jenn

  • Chris

    I love that picture! It makes me miss home very much. Love the post! I’ll have to get some of his work, if I can find it. Can’t wait.