Posts in: Wendell Berry

“The Reassurer” by Wendell Berry

A people in the throes of national prosperity, who breathe poisoned air, drink poisoned water, eat poisoned food, who take poisoned medicines to heal them of the poisons that they breathe, drink, and eat, such a people crave the further poison of official reassurance. It is not logical, but it is understandable, perhaps, that they adore their President who tells them that all is well, all is better than ever. The President reassures the farmer and his wife who have exhausted their farm to pay for it, and have exhausted themselves to pay for it, and not have not paid for it, and have gone bankrupt for the sake of the free market, foreign trade, and the prosperity of corporations; he consoles the Navajos, who have been exiled from their place of exile, because the poor land contained something required for the national prosperity, after all; he consoles the young woman dying of cancer caused by a substance used in the normal course of national prosperity to make red apples redder; he consoles the couple in the Kentucky coalfields, who sit watching TV in their mobile home on the mud of the floor of a mined-out stripmine; from his smile they understand that the fortunate have a right to their fortunes, that the unfortunate have a right to their misfortunes, and that these are equal rights.

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Happy 88th birthday, Wendell Berry!

No one needs me to recount the greatness of a living legend like Wendell Berry. I’ll limit myself to describing his impact on my life. I heard of him about twenty years ago through the newsletter/website Christian CounterCulture. The first book of his I read was What Are People For?. But let’s back up for a second. As with many people, my intellectual life began in college. Up to that point, my thoughts and opinions were merely echoes of the adults in my life.

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