Sunday, September 30, 2012

To See Most Clearly

"To imagine is to see most clearly, to see not passively but with a force of vision.... To have a right understanding of our place in the world, we must imagine it properly."

-paraphrase of Wes Jackson quoting from Wendell Berry's 2012 Jefferson Lecture

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Berry Book Signing

I am rarely star-struck. However I can remember two meetings in the last fifteen years when I reverted to a little kid again, meeting Tim Keller in 2010 and meeting Wendell Berry today.

Wendell Berry at the Land Institute

My earlier estimate was probably off by around 300 or so. There are probably 500 folks here. Wendell Berry is currently in the center of this picture, just to the right of the pole in the center (he's in a blue shirt, though hard to see). It's hard to get a good seat here, but we can clearly hear Berry on the loudspeaker. When asked, "How fair is the land?" Berry replies, "Not very fair."

Seminar About Perennial Wheat

I'm going to guess there are a couple hundred folks here in Salina at the Land Institute. We're currently listening to Land Institute scientists talking about polycultures and developing seeds that are "perennials" (do not need to be replanted to reproduce) rather than "annuals" (need to be replanted to be reproduced).

Friday, September 28, 2012

Sabbatical Start at a Prairie Festival!

After a very difficult summer, the elders of Grace Chapel granted me a sabbatical through the month of October. I'm very grateful for their care as well as the support of the Grace Chapel congregation. My sabbatical is focused really on three areas: 1) to spend quality time with my wife Tanya and kids; 2) to take retreat days to sit at the feet of Jesus and 3) to work on my doctoral work.

I launch the sabbatical today by traveling to Salina, KS with my wife Tanya for a two days, two nights Prairie Festival with The Land Institute.  Tanya and I don't know entirely what to expect, but one of my favorite authors, Wendell Berry, will be among the keynote speakers. I may do my doctoral work on some of Berry's writings. Tanya and I will get to sleep in a tent, enjoy some local music, local food, dance and hear about sustainability issues, i.e. "creation care" issues that I've written some about:

Prayers are appreciated!  Some have referred to this as a "hippie festival." I don't know if that is exactly good or bad, but I'm going into all of it with an open mind!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

More Berry, from 2012 Jefferson Lecture

I don’t like to deal in categorical approvals, and certainly not of the arts. Even so, I do not concede that the “fine arts,” in general, are useless or unnecessary or even impractical. I can testify that some works of art, by the usual classification fine, have instructed, sustained, and comforted me for many years in my opposition to industrial pillage.

But I would insist that the economic arts are just as honorably and authentically refinable as the fine arts. And so I am nominating economy for an equal standing among the arts and humanities. I mean, not economics, but economy, the making of the human household upon the earth: the arts of adapting kindly the many human households to the earth’s many ecosystems and human neighborhoods. This is the economy that the most public and influential economists never talk about, the economy that is the primary vocation and responsibility of every one of us.

"It All Turns on Affection"

This excerpt is taken from Wendell Berry's 2012 Jefferson lecture:

The term “imagination” in what I take to be its truest sense refers to a mental faculty that some people have used and thought about with the utmost seriousness. The sense of the verb “to imagine” contains the full richness of the verb “to see.” To imagine is to see most clearly, familiarly, and understandingly with the eyes, but also to see inwardly, with “the mind’s eye.” It is to see, not passively, but with a force of vision and even with visionary force. To take it seriously we must give up at once any notion that imagination is disconnected from reality or truth or knowledge. It has nothing to do either with clever imitation of appearances or with “dreaming up.” It does not depend upon one’s attitude or point of view, but grasps securely the qualities of things seen or envisioned.

I will say, from my own belief and experience, that imagination thrives on contact, on tangible connection. For humans to have a responsible relationship to the world, they must imagine their places in it. To have a place, to live and belong in a place, to live from a place without destroying it, we must imagine it. By imagination we see it illuminated by its own unique character and by our love for it. By imagination we recognize with sympathy the fellow members, human and nonhuman, with whom we share our place. By that local experience we see the need to grant a sort of preemptive sympathy to all the fellow members, the neighbors, with whom we share the world. As imagination enables sympathy, sympathy enables affection. And it is in affection that we find the possibility of a neighborly, kind, and conserving economy.

Obviously there is some risk in making affection the pivot of an argument about economy. The charge will be made that affection is an emotion, merely “subjective,” and therefore that all affections are more or less equal: people may have affection for their children and their automobiles, their neighbors and their weapons. But the risk, I think, is only that affection is personal. If it is not personal, it is nothing; we don’t, at least, have to worry about governmental or corporate affection. And one of the endeavors of human cultures, from the beginning, has been to qualify and direct the influence of emotion. The word “affection” and the terms of value that cluster around it—love, care, sympathy, mercy, forbearance, respect, reverence—have histories and meanings that raise the issue of worth. We should, as our culture has warned us over and over again, give our affection to things that are true, just, and beautiful. When we give affection to things that are destructive, we are wrong. A large machine in a large, toxic, eroded cornfield is not, properly speaking, an object or a sign of affection.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

The Work of a Chef and a Furniture Maker

These were two videos about John Perkins the chef and Harrison Higgins the furniture maker. We tried to run the videos during today's worship services as we talked about the "Stewardship of Our Vocations" today; however, we were met with mild success in the first service, great success in the second and no success in the third service! Such is life on the journey, I suppose. Also, for those interested, here was today's sermon: Work and Our Earthly Hope. It comes in the middle of our annual fall stewardship series.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

John Piper on Reading Books and Dying Well

I've dealt with a lot of death this summer, and I love books. So I thought I'd post this short clip from John Piper that ties the two together:

Wednesday, September 5, 2012


With the challenges of ministry this summer, I haven’t been working much on my D.Min. program much as of late (I’ve participated in a funeral every month since May). I hope to return to my D.Min. work this fall; however, while things have been slow for me regarding my program, I’m thrilled that my D.Min. co-hort member Bob Robinson just launched his new ministry (re)integrate on Labor Day. I believe (re)integrate will be a tremendous resource for those thinking intentionally about the connection between faith and vocation, whether at the college level or professional level: