Tag Archives | conservation

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War is obsolete, in short, because it can no longer produce a net good, even to the winner.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

A Sand County Almanac | Aldo Leopold

A storm blew up out of nowhere this spring while I was solo paddling the South Branch of the Muskoka river, just outside of Bracebridge. I pushed my canoe into the brush at the end of a secluded bay, and watched the storm approach. As it intensified, I pulled out this small paper-back book and read a section. That’s just the sort of book it is.

Leopold’s words read like poetry. You immediately realize that you’re in the company of someone who loves wilderness. The cover has a quote from the San Francisco Chronicle stating that this book belongs on the shelf with Thoreau and Muir. I heartily agree—so long as Sigurd Olson’s right there with them. Even better than the shelf: this book belongs in your backpack.

I had to pull my canoe out of the water, and turn it over to shelter my pack. I stood at the base of a large hemlock tree and watched the spring-time hail bounce off the scarred underbody of my 14 foot red solo canoe. A mere 15 minutes later the storm was over and I was back in the water. Leopold’s words far outlasted the storm.

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