Forswear love and excellence?

By Dave Henning / August 19, 2022

“We have tried to escape the sweat and sorrow promised in Genesis — only to find that, in order to do so, we must forswear love and excellence, health and joy.”- Wendell Berry, The Unsettling of America

Daniel Grothe concludes Chapter 4 of The Power of Place with the second and third core values espoused by Wendell Berry.

Value 2: Membership in a Thriving Local Community.  First, Berry stresses that membership makes a life truly good.  Specifically, a balanced and life-giving membership within a thriving local community.

For example, when Daniel’s Grandma Weezie (Louise) was five, she and her twin sister walked down to the train tracks.  A note from their mother pinned to their shirts gave instructions.  It said the twins needed to go eleven miles to Lewiston, ID.  There they’d pick up groceries and other basics at the five-and-dime store.

So, the train conductor, who knew the girls, stopped the train in the middle of nowhere to pick them up.  Then, a few hours later, the girls returned home.  Hence, Burley Coulter, a character in Berry’s novel The Wild Birds, sums it up:

“The way we are, we are members of each other.  All of us.  Everything.  The difference ain’t who is a member and who is not, but in who knows it and who don’t.”

Value 3: The Joy of Hard Work.  Above all, Pastor Grothe notes, God formed Adam from the dust of the ground.  In addition, each day saw Adam and Eve covered in dust.  Consequently, Daniel asserts, to try to run from the dust of the earth equates to running from ourselves – our very identity.  Thus, God designed our bodies for physical connection and contribution to the world.

In conclusion, Pastor Grothe exhorts, keep some life around you that needs tending every single day.  Furthermore, the author encourages:

“As you lovingly get your fingers down into the soil of your place, the place will begin to sprout vines that climb up into your heart.”

Today’s question: What do you see as the downside when you forswear love and excellence?  Please share.

Tomorrow’s blog: “In the moment of offense, we . . .”

About the author

Dave Henning


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