Reimagining American Community
Feb
15
Painting by Robert Shetterly

Painting by Robert Shetterly

T

he problem that ought to concern us first, Wendell Berry told the audience at his Jefferson Lecture in 2012, is the fairly recent dismantling of our old understanding and acceptance of human limits. A sense of these limits has been crucial to Berry’s cultural critique through his half-century of writing and speaking.

What sort of limits, we might ask? Spatial, material, moral, spiritual, Berry has replied. “The world has room for many people who are content to live as humans, but only for a relative few intent upon living as giants or gods.

In the Kingdom of Whatever (as one critic has termed today’s world), Berry asks whether there is not after all an absolute good by which we must measure ourselves and for which we must work. “That absolute good, I think, is health–not in the merely hygienic sense of personal health, but the health, the wholeness, finally the holiness, of Creation, of which our personal health is only a share.”

In over 50 books–novels, poems and essays–Wendell Berry has both criticized the destruction of traditional agriculture and small farms while likewise celebrating the vision that might reconnect us to both the land and to our neighbors.

About the Author
A native Texan, Elias spent several good years studying classics and medieval Italian at UC Berkeley before wasting several more years in financial journalism around Chicago. He has written for Strong Towns, the American Scholar, the New Urbs blog, and the Gary Catholic Worker and is the co-author of a textbook on character education. He briefly published something called The Armchair Historian. None of his three teenage daughters display an interest in the Greek and Latin classics thus far. He and his family reside in leafy Valparaiso IN.