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Virtues of RenewalWendell Berry's Sustainable Forms$
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Jeffrey Bilbro

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780813176406

Published to Kentucky Scholarship Online: September 2019

DOI: 10.5810/kentucky/9780813176406.001.0001

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(p.62) 3 Humility
Virtues of Renewal

Jeffrey Bilbro

University Press of Kentucky

When faced with moral or environmental problems, the industrial culture searches for a set of rules that can guide us through a messy reality. Yet these codes arrogantly foreclose a complex reality and provide a false assurance of propriety; as such, they are ways of keeping the self buffered. Berry, following thinkers such as Ivan Illich and Charles Taylor, turns to the parable of the Good Samaritan for insight into the embodied, humble forms of love that would characterize a truly sustainable community. His essays practice such humility not by being deferential or meek, but by recognizing that the human condition requires us to choose and act from a position of irremediable ignorance. Worse still, we humans generally don’t act on the basis of our most careful, rational thought, but on a more gut level. The occasional, ad hoc nature of his essays evinces his efforts to walk along what he terms a “way of ignorance,” a way of approaching reality in light of our condition as finite persons. In addition, many of Berry’s essays are structured by binaries—boomers versus stickers, the industrial economy versus the Kingdom of God—that work to pry open the codes we use to foreclose reality.

Keywords:   humility, essays, codes, Ivan Illich, Charles Taylor, Good Samaritan, way of ignorance

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