Thursday, February 26, 2015

From the ruins...

From Toledo, IA
Charles Church & Drake Circus Shopping Centre; Plymouth, England (2012)
During World War II, historic Charles Church in Plymouth, England, was devastated along with much of the rest of the city in the Plymouth Blitz, carried out by the Nazi Luftwaffe. Being a major port city on the southern coast, Plymouth had long been (and still is) an important military position, and so was a target.

In 2006, the Drake Circus Shopping Centre was erected just behind the ruins of the church, which had sat unmolested for decades. As the photo above illustrates, it was certainly no accident that the design of the mall's facade incorporates and frames in the ruins of the church, now an historic landmark in the city centre.

We visited Plymouth in 2012 and I took the photo above. I had first noticed this ruined-church/thriving-mall arrangement from the window of our hotel (on the left), and chuckled to myself. It certainly sends a message...

Thursday, February 5, 2015

The earth and debt: Marriage in Wendell Berry

From Toledo, IA
Tanya & Wendell Berry
Photo by Ann Thompson via Flickr
Jake Meador has a wonderful essay up on Fare Forward, entitled "Wendell Berry's 'Room for Love'." He cycles through three marriages in Berry's fictional works, and offers reflections on how successful marriages in Berry often resemble the author's agrarian understanding and expansive writings on how to live in harmony with the created world (of which we are a part).

Becoming a good steward of the earth involves learning to live, love, and tend with the land, not over or against it. It's about identifying the rhythms of life, health, and beauty already at work in nature, and partnering with it in our human culture-making, through which we create the stuff and meaning from the world we inhabit and use (channeling Andy Crouch's thinking on culture here).

And it's not a question of whether we do this culture-making and use of the world (or our relationships, such as marriage), but how, which reflects our moral character. Meador isolates what he thinks might be the heart of Berry's vision and purpose for writing as he does, with a quote from The Gift of Good Land:
“To live, we must daily break the body and shed the blood of Creation. When we do this knowingly, lovingly, skillfully, reverently, it is a sacrament. When we do it ignorantly, greedily, clumsily, destructively, it is a desecration. In such desecration we condemn ourselves to spiritual and moral loneliness, and others to want.”
So it goes in creation, so it goes in marriage.