The Eyes of Wendell Berry

From First Thoughts

The Seer opens with a blur of urban lights and longings: the faster freeway, the taller building, the machines that become the objects of our affections. Over this, the film’s subject, in his distinctive timbre, laments the pursuit of “the objective.” These opening three minutes culminate in . . . . Continue Reading »

Brush with Greatness

From First Thoughts

Many Beautiful Things lives up to its title. With lush visuals from the English countryside, the deserts of North Africa, and the watercolors of its subject Lilias Trotter, the latest from filmmaker Laura Waters Hinson pleases the eye while asking questions of the heart. If Trotter’s name sounds . . . . Continue Reading »

The God of the Womb and the World

From Web Exclusives

The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof.” Psalm 24:1 is a popular verse in Christian conservation (or creation care) circles—one I have heard often enough that it almost rings cliché. But these words struck me anew when used in a closing benediction before thousands of fellow . . . . Continue Reading »

A Golden Merry Christmas, Charlie Brown

From Web Exclusives

In A Charlie Brown Christmas, the round headed lead’s quest to escape a melancholy brought on by the materialism and artificiality of the season climaxes with his blanket-holding friend’s powerful recitation of St. Luke’s nativity. It is remembered now as a classic, and typical of the . . . . Continue Reading »

In Carbon and Capitalism We Trust?

From Web Exclusives

At the Crossroads” was ostensibly a conservative gathering in Austin to discuss energy and “so-called global warming” as Senator Ted Cruz put it, but at its core was a celebration of cornucopianism. That progressive philosophy sees an ever improving world flowing from the mind of man and the . . . . Continue Reading »

Evangelicals and Animals

From Web Exclusives

Ribs are getting harder to eat. I was gnawing on some nice tender bones in Memphis recently, but those bones were gnawing on me. Try as I might—and there are many days that I do indeed try to recapture the bliss of ignorance—I know too much about where that pork comes from to just devour it . . . . Continue Reading »

The Pope and the Plowman

From Web Exclusives

After you exit the interstate and turn on a two lane strip of asphalt headed towards Wendell Berry’s old Kentucky home, one of the first signs you see proclaims—with the leading word emblazoned in red letters: “Caution, Church Entrance Ahead.” It is a warning that Mr. Berry, the celebrated . . . . Continue Reading »

An Almost Godly Green

From Web Exclusives

Happy Earth Day! Easter it is not, but this niche “holiday” does afford an opportunity to reflect on the spiritual influences behind the modern environmental movement. Its three most important figures—John Muir, Aldo Leopold, and Rachel Carson—were all deeply influenced by the Book of Nature and the Book of Books, but none fully embraced the King of Kings.Muir was the product of a strict Campbellite home where he learned most of the Bible “by heart and by sore flesh.” Its imprint never left him, but Muir’s spiritual vision was incomplete—he was carried to ecstasy by the work of creation not the Resurrection. Yet, what he saw he saw in a holy fullness that most of us now miss, and his lyrical prose is filled with biblical echoes. “Heaven knows,” Muir would write, “that John the Baptist was not more eager to get all his fellow sinners into the Jordan than I to baptize all of mine in the beauty of God’s mountains.” Continue Reading »