more from W. Berry: “the most urgent question[s]”

from Wendell Berry’s essay “Christianity and the Survival of Creation”

“To be uninterested in economy is to be uninterested in the practice of religion; it is to be uninterested in culture and in character. Probably the most urgent question now faced by people who would adhere to the Bible is this: What sort of economy would be responsible to the holiness of life? What, for Christians, would be the economy, the practices and the restraints, of ‘right livelihood’? I do not believe that organized Christianity now has any idea. I think its idea of a Christian economy is no more or less than the industrial economy – which is an economy firmly founded on the seven deadly sins and the breaking of all ten of the Ten Commandments. Obviously, if Christianity is going to survive as more than a respecter and comforter of profitable iniquities, then Christians, regardless of their organizations, are going to have to interest themselves in economy – which is to say, in nature and in work. They are going to have to give workable answers to those who say we cannot live without this economy that is destroying us and our world, who see the murder of Creation as the only way of life.

If we credit the Bible’s description of the relationship between the Creator and Creation, then we cannot deny the spiritual importance of our economic life. Then we must see how religious issues lead to issues of economy and how issues of economy lead to issues of art. By ‘art’ I mean all the ways by which humans make the things they need. If we understand that no artist – no maker – can work except by reworking the works of Creation, then we see that by our work we reveal what we think of the works of God. How we take our lives from this world, how we work, what work we do, how well we use the materials we use, and what we do with them after we have used them – all these are questions of the highest and gravest religious significance. In answering them, we practice, or do not practice, our religion.

The significance – and ultimately the quality – of the work we do is determined by our understanding of the story in which we are taking part.”

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