Sex, Economy, Freedom & Community | Wendell Berry

The cover of Berry's Sex, Economy, Freedom and CommunityWendell Berry sees the world through a different lens. An accomplished poet, essayist, and novelist, he chose to ignore the lure of literary New York to stay rooted in his Kentucky farm.

Rooted is an important idea for Berry. If more people were rooted in their land, they would want what’s best for it. In our global age we have traded in the local concrete for the global abstraction. As Berry reminds us, “abstraction is the enemy wherever it is found” (23).

Berry’s rootedness extends beyond his physical location. He has developed strong, firm, and often contrarian opinions which he is not ashamed to publish. For example, take his thoughts on economic growth:

Unlimited economic growth implies unlimited consumption, which in turn implies unlimited pride, covetousness, lust, anger, gluttony, envy, and sloth. (xvii)

Try his views on war:

War is obsolete, in short, because it can no longer produce a net good, even to the winner. (77)

Berry on Christian government:

Jesus would have been horrified by just about every “Christian” government the world has ever seen. He would be horrified by our government and its works, and it would be horrified by him. (115)

In the 8 essays (along with the superb preface, “The Joy of Sales Resistance”) which make up this volume, Berry speaks the truth as clearly as he sees it. You can either disagree with him and offer counter arguments, or agree and examine your own lifestyle. One thing is impossible: when it comes to Berry, you cannot be neutral!

—Wendell Berry, Sex, Economy, Freedom & Community (New York: Pantheon, 1993).

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