Luminary Quotes
Topic: 13 - Love, Compassion, & Kindness

I believe that the world was created and approved by love, that it subsists, coheres, and endures by love, and that, insofar as it is redeemable, it can be redeemed only by love.

Wendell Berry

Only By Love

“I take literally the statement in the Gospel of John that God loves the world. I believe that the world was created and approved by love, that it subsists, coheres, and endures by love, and that, insofar as it is redeemable, it can be redeemed only by love. I believe that divine love, incarnate and indwelling in the world, summons the world always toward wholeness, which ultimately is reconciliation and atonement with God.”

Wendell Berry
Humanism, Arts and Sciences
Berry, Wendell. The Art of the Commonplace: the Agrarian Essays of Wendell Berry. Edited by Norman Wirzba, ReadHowYouWant.com, Limited, 2010, [Wendell Berry, The Art of the Commonplace: The Agrarian Essays].
Wendell Berry

Love and the World We Live In by Wendell Berry

I take literally the statement in the Gospel of John that God loves the world. I believe the world was created and approved by love, that it subsists, coheres, and endures by love, and that, insofar as it is redeemable, it can be redeemed only by love. I believe that divine love, incarnate and indwelling in the world, summons the world always toward wholeness, which ultimately is reconciliation and atonement with God.

This is also a fallen world. It involves error and disease, ignorance and partiality, sin and death. If this world is a place where we may learn of our involvement in immortal love, as I believe it is, still such learning is only possible here because that love involves us so inescapably in the limits, suffering and sorrow of mortality.

–Wendell Berry [Citizenship Papers: Essays, 2004].

Wendell Berry, Christianity and the Survival of Creation (Excerpt)

“If, because of these discrepancies, Christianity were dismissable, there would, of course, be no problem. We could simply dismiss it, along with the twenty centuries of unsatisfactory history attached to it, and start setting things to rights. The problem emerges only when we ask, Where then would we turn for instruction? We might, let us suppose, turn to another religion–a recourse that is sometimes suggested by the anti-Christian environmentalists. Buddhism, for example, is certainly a religion that could guide us toward a right respect for the natural world, our fellow humans, and our fellow creatures. I have a considerable debt myself to Buddhism and Buddhists. But there is an enormous number of people, and I am one of them, whose native religion, for better or worse, is Christianity. We were born to it; we began to learn about it before we became conscious; it is, whatever we think of it, an intimate belonging of our being; it informs our consciousness, our language, and our dreams. We can turn away from it or against it, but that will only bind us tightly to a reduced version of it. A better possibility is that this, our native religion, should survive and renew itself, so that it may become as largely and truly instructive as we need it to be. On such a survival and renewal of the Christian religion may depend the survival of that Creation which is its subject.
If we read the Bible, keeping in mind the desirability of those two survivals–of Christianity and the Creation–we are apt to discover several things that modern Christian organizations have kept remarkably quiet about, or have paid little attention to….
We will discover that God found the world, as he made it, to be good; that he made it for his pleasure; and that he continues to love it and to find it worthy, despite its reduction and corruption by us. People who quote John 3:16 as an easy formula for getting to heaven neglect to see the great difficulty implied in the statement that the advent of Christ was made possible by God’s love for the world–not God’s love for Heaven or for the world as it might be, but for the world as it was and is. Belief in Christ is thus made dependent upon prior belief in the inherent goodness–the lovability–of the world….”

–Wendell Berry [Christianity and The Survival of Creation].

Additional Wendell Berry Poems and Quotes

THE PEACE OF WILD THINGS

“When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.”

–Wendell Berry [The Selected Poems of Wendell Berry].

“But love, sooner or later, forces us out of time… of all that we feel and do, all the virtues and all the sins, love alone crowds us at last over the edge of the world. For love is always more than a little strange here… It is in the world, but is not altogether of it. It is of eternity. It takes us there when it most holds us here.”

–Wendell Berry [Jayber Crow].

“I see that the life of this place is always emerging beyond expectation or prediction or typicality, that it is unique, given to the world minute by minute, only once, never to be repeated. And this is when I see that this life is a miracle, absolutely worth having, absolutely worth saving. We are alive within mystery, by miracle.”

–Wendell Berry [Life is a Miracle: An Essay Against Modern Superstition].

“The soul, in its loneliness, hopes only for “salvation.” And yet what is the burden of the Bible if not a sense of the mutuality of influence, rising out of an essential unity, among soul and body and community and world? These are all the works of God, and it is therefore the work of virtue to make or restore harmony among them. The world is certainly thought of as a place of spiritual trial, but it is also the confluence of soul and body, word and flesh, where thoughts must become deeds, where goodness must be enacted. This is the great meeting place, the narrow passage where spirit and flesh, word and world, pass into each other. The Bible’s aim, as I read it, is not the freeing of the spirit from the world. It is the handbook of their interaction. It says that they cannot be divided; that their mutuality, their unity, is inescapable; that they are not reconciled in division, but in harmony. What else can be meant by the resurrection of the body? The body should be “filled with light,” perfected in understanding. And so everywhere there is the sense of consequence, fear and desire, grief and joy. What is desirable is repeatedly defined in the tensions of the sense of consequence.”

–Wendell Berry [The Art of the Commonplace: The Agrarian Essays].

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