"Not a tame lion"
On Venice Beach

Sex, Economy, Freedom & Community

Sex, Economy, Freedom, and CommunitySex, Economy, Freedom, and Community by Wendell Berry
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is one of those Wendell Berry classics which I had not yet read. There are actually quite a few of those, which is funny given how important Berry has been to me. I guess I continue to return to those favourites savouring them and allow them to influence me anew.

Some of the specifics of this book are dated, but the general themes are not. In fact, many of the issues that alarm him are even more severe now than in the early 90's.

I probably underlined at least one sentence on every page.

Last week when the UCC was debating divestment from fossil fuels, I sat down in the convention center lobby to await Michael who was still in a committee meeting, and read Berry while I waited. He was talking about tobacco farming and why immediately ending tobacco farming was not a wise decision because it would harm a local economy of small farmers which would result in a loss of knowledge and care essential for maintaining the land.

The final essay, the title one, has much that we should reflect upon and ponder. His discussions of sex and marriage are powerful (though I found myself wondering what a dialogue between Berry and Foucault or Berry and Judith Butler would be like). Here is one example:

"If they had only themselves to consider, lovers would not need to marry, but they must think of others and of other things. They say their vows to the community as much as to one another, and the community gathers around them to hear and to wish them well, on their behalf and on its own. It gathers around them because it understands how necessary, how joyful, and how fearful this joining is. These lovers, pledging themselves to one another 'until death,' are giving themselves away, and they are joined by this as no law or contract could ever join them. Lovers, then, 'die' into their union with one another as a soul 'dies' into its union with God. And so here, at the very heart of community life, we find not something to sell as in the public market but this momentous giving. If the community cannot protect this giving, it can protect nothing -- and our time is proving that this is so."

I intend to blog more about topics from the book, but this should suffice for my review.

View all my reviews


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