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The Achievement of Wendell BerryThe Hard History of Love$
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Fritz Oehlschlaeger

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780813130071

Published to Kentucky Scholarship Online: September 2011

DOI: 10.5810/kentucky/9780813130071.001.0001

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Against the Church, for the Church

Against the Church, for the Church

Berry and Christianity

(p.77) Chapter 3 Against the Church, for the Church
The Achievement of Wendell Berry

Fritz Oehlschlaeger

University Press of Kentucky

This chapter takes as its starting point a question once posed by one of the author's students: is Wendell Berry's work dependent on Christianity? The chapter first addresses Berry's consistent criticism of forms of Christianity he regards to be life-denying; far too devoted to the language of individual salvation; and too easily co-opted by the projects of nation, economy, and technology. It also emphasizes the way some of Berry's work, especially in his earliest volumes, stresses the fidelity of poets over Christianity, understood as a system of belief that undermines the sanctity or holiness of the natural world and everyday life. It then highlights Berry's counterargument to White and his claims that the Bible and Christian tradition point toward the need for loving and sustainable use of the land. Discussions that concentrate, respectively, on the importance of Berry's Christianity look at two closely related terms, “body” and “mystery”. Finally, it is suggested that Berry's understanding of the land throughout has a biblical dimension.

Keywords:   Wendell Berry, Christianity, church, Bible, land, poets, salvation

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