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Wendell Berry and the Given Life

published by Franciscan Media | Hardback - With dust jacket | 192 pages
$ 22.99
Over the past 50 years, Wendell Berry has been helping those with ears to listen chart a return to the practice of being creatures. Through his essays, poetry, and fiction Berry has repeatedly drawn our attention to the ways in which our lives are gifts in a whole economy of gifts. In Wendell Berry and the Given Life, naturalist Ragan Sutterfield articulates his vision for the creaturely life and the Christian understandings of humility and creation that underpin it.
 

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An Introduction to the Given Life of Wendell Berry

For someone like me, who has read snippets of essays and poems by Wendell Berry over the years and who has known – somewhere deep – that I ought to be reading him more, Ragan Sutterfield’s “Wendell Berry and the Given Life” is the perfect introduction to the life, thought and work of this 20th and 21st-century icon.

The slender volume is a lovingly compiled synthesis of this Kentucky farmer-philosopher’s writing, drawing amply from his poetry, essays and fiction and illustrating Berry’s vision and hope for a more fully moral, ethical and spiritual life.

Sutterfield writes beautifully himself, and he guides the reader gently through 12 separate but integrated themes in Berry’s work, ending with the author’s own argument that Berry should, indeed, be considered a prophet in the line of John the Baptist, St. Francis of Assisi, Dorothy Day and Martin Luther King, Jr. Berry’s work certainly falls into this prophetic mode, although the reader is left with no doubt that Berry would eschew such a moniker. But no argument here, and to the list I would add Henry David Thoreau, as Berry seems a natural extension of that naturalist and philosopher.

In the end, I was left with a couple of overarching thoughts about this book. The first is that we so desperately need his voice today. The second is that I am way behind on reading Berry, and I am thankful to Sutterfield for the introduction.

Ragan Sutterfield is the author of Cultivating Reality: How the Soil Might Save Us, and a memoir, This Is My Body. His work has also appeared in a variety of magazines including The Christian Century, The Oxford American, Men's Journal, Triathlete, Gourmet, Fast Company, and Books & Culture. He is an endurance athlete and long-time naturalist who loves records, film, and seeking the good life with his wife Emily and their daughters Lillian and Lucia. He has worked as a teacher, librarian and farmer, but he is most of all a reader and writer. His work also appears regularly in the Englewood Review of Books. More on Ragan's work can be found at his website RaganSutterfield.com.

Customer Reviews

Based on 1 review
100%
(1)
0%
(0)
0%
(0)
0%
(0)
0%
(0)
S
S.G.
An Introduction to the Given Life of Wendell Berry

For someone like me, who has read snippets of essays and poems by Wendell Berry over the years and who has known – somewhere deep – that I ought to be reading him more, Ragan Sutterfield’s “Wendell Berry and the Given Life” is the perfect introduction to the life, thought and work of this 20th and 21st-century icon.

The slender volume is a lovingly compiled synthesis of this Kentucky farmer-philosopher’s writing, drawing amply from his poetry, essays and fiction and illustrating Berry’s vision and hope for a more fully moral, ethical and spiritual life.

Sutterfield writes beautifully himself, and he guides the reader gently through 12 separate but integrated themes in Berry’s work, ending with the author’s own argument that Berry should, indeed, be considered a prophet in the line of John the Baptist, St. Francis of Assisi, Dorothy Day and Martin Luther King, Jr. Berry’s work certainly falls into this prophetic mode, although the reader is left with no doubt that Berry would eschew such a moniker. But no argument here, and to the list I would add Henry David Thoreau, as Berry seems a natural extension of that naturalist and philosopher.

In the end, I was left with a couple of overarching thoughts about this book. The first is that we so desperately need his voice today. The second is that I am way behind on reading Berry, and I am thankful to Sutterfield for the introduction.