Things We Do

Continuing on the Wendell Berry theme, on his blog The Way I See It, Joel has posted a series of quotes taken from Wendell Berry’s collection of essays The Way of Ignorance.

Here is one of them (to which I’ve added another sentence from the essay):

Our attempt to maintain a “growth economy” in an ever diminishing world is playing devil with our traditional (and admirable) moral code, which our most prominent politicians now put to public use mainly to paint over our immoral behavior. We make war, we are told, for the love of peace. We subvert our Bill of Rights and impose our will abroad for the sake of freedom and law. We honor greed and waste with the name of economy. We allow ever greater wealth and power to accumulate in the hands of a privileged few only to provide jobs for working people and charity to the poor. And we sanctify all this as Christian, though the Gospels support none of it by so much as a line or a word.

– Wendell Berry, from “Letter to Daniel Kemmis

13 comments on “Things We Do

  1. Sue says:

    Sad, but true.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Joanna says:

    I’m glad for those who have the clarity to see it and I pray that more will open their eyes to this sad fact and be prompted to do something


  3. Jeff says:

    So tell me – how can anyone be a Christian and a capitalist?


    • Bill says:

      There are Christians all over the political map. There are Christian capitalists, communists, libertarians, anarchists and everything in between. I know your question is rhetorical, but I’m not well-qualified to answer it. My guess would be that for those who self-identify as Christian capitalists, some rely on some form of the “two kingdom” dualism, some on arguments like the one referenced by Mr. Berry, and some have likely never given it any thought.

      As an aside, I especially like one of his concluding thoughts in this essay/letter: “Competitiveness, covetousness, ruthlessness and greed are not economic virtues; the economic virtues are neighborliness, generosity, trust, good workmanship, thrift and care.”


  4. nebraskadave says:

    Bill, another thought provoking Wendell quote. The cobwebs in my mind are really getting dusted out over the last few days. The big thing I see slipping away today is giving up Constitutional freedoms for the sake of security. There is no guarantee that we can be totally safe. Harsh things happen in the journey of life that can not be explained. The general population will give up freedoms that were held precious 200 years ago just for the sake of an easier life. We have become a scared population that relies on the government to protect us no matter what the cost. It’s very sad when you think about it.

    Have a great things we do day.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Bill says:

      Yes, I agree (as does Mr. Berry). We seem anxious to surrender liberties in exchange for an illusion of security while calling it “freedom.” Sad, indeed.


  5. avwalters says:

    1984. Wendell Berry meets George Orwell.


  6. And we cut down our forests, pollute our air, pave over grass, destroy wetlands, wipe out species, etc. etc. and call it progress. –Curt


    • Bill says:

      I’m not sure how much more of that kind of “progress” we can stand. Too often it seems our vision extends no further than the next quarterly earnings report. That’s one of the reasons I’m thankful for voices like Wendell Berry’s.


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