Berry has been an important voice for the last 40 years, but I can see at least two reasons why we should particularly heed his wisdom now. The first is the election of Donald Trump, which many have interpreted as rural America rejecting the country’s reigning economic and political orthodoxies. Berry has spent decades criticizing the industrial assumptions that shape the policies of both major parties, but the local, humane, sustainable economies for which he advocates could not be more different from Trump’s bigger-is-better rhetoric. As Bill McKibben writes in the foreword to Sutterfield’s book, “if there were a literal opposite to Donald Trump on the planet, it would be Wendell Berry.” Perhaps this is the moment to listen carefully to Berry’s vision for creaturely economies.
Sutterfield’s introduction to Berry is also timely given the conversations sparked by Rod Dreher’s new book, The Benedict Option. (It was Dreher, after all, who in a 2011 essay nominated Berry as the “Latter-Day St. Benedict” hoped for by Alasdair MacIntyre in the famous closing paragraph of After Virtue.) While Sutterfield doesn’t mention Dreher’s project, he argues that, like Benedict, Berry provides a “coherent vision for the lived moral and spiritual life. … His insight flows from a life and practices, and so it is a vision that can be practiced and lived.”
Read the entire review here.