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Wendell Berry, Education, and Gnosticism

I finished this on the 4th of August. I would highly recommend this to anyone who already appreciates the Kentucky sage, but not to anyone who hasn't read a few of his works. It runs the gamut from personal tributes, to sharp analyses, to dryer academic examinations, the latter being the minority.
While there were several standout essays, Jason Peters' (the book's editor) "Education, Heresy, and the 'Deadly Disease of the World" bears particular mention. Why? Well, Peters examines Berry's views on education, and finds that Mr. Berry, not surprisingly, has little patience for education that doesn't include knowledge that leads to self-sufficiency. If it isn't "the husbandry and wifery of the world" then Berry despises it. And, I think, for good reason, if it creates the superstition "that money brings forth food."
Another interesting point that Peters turns to is Berry's hatred of gnostic dualism--the idea that matter is corrupt and evil and spirit is the only real and important "substance" in the universe. This heresy has found its way into the church, even today. Peters quotes Berry from A Continous Harmony, saying
some varieties of Christianity have held that one should despise the things of this world--which made it all but mandatory that they should be neglected as well. In that way men of conscience--or men who might reasonably have been expected to be men of conscience--have been led to abandon the world, and their own posterity, to the exploiters and ruiners. So exclusively focused on the hereafer, they have been neither here nor there.

Get that, Evangelicals? Your thinking has left the world to "exploiters and ruiners;" your single-minded focus on Heaven makes Earth a haunt for demons. Somewhere in this thinking is a connection to C.S. Lewis' The Last Battle, but I haven't quite connected all the dots yet.
Anyway, a wonderful book, but only for fanboys at this point. So, read some Berry and then read about his Life and Work.


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