Author Topic: Christian family - family and home topics  (Read 437693 times)

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Offline John

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Re: Christian family - family and home topics
« Reply #56 on: March 10, 2016, 11:40:01 AM »

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The article is fatally flawed in that it does not look at where sin and suffering come from.
All suffering ultimately comes from Adams rejection of God and his rules.  The consequences of that were a cursed earth and that is what we see in the illness and other problems that affect our bodies, it?s what we see in the casual cruelties? of those seeking gain at the expense of others, whether through crime or by legal loopholes or political or economic power.
It also doesn?t really look at the answer to all this suffering.
The world has no answer, it has to take Christian ideas and try to use them to help, but where in the world view of life is is the reason for helping others, of compassion, of equality, of equal justice. They are Christian ideas.
It is also Christians who provide most of the help, charity giving by believers far exceeds the giving by the ?liberal atheist? and finally only the Christian can offer hope through faith in the death and resurrection of Jesus.

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[Cfamily]World Relief: One Family’s story—Finding New Dreams
« Reply #57 on: March 11, 2016, 12:00:12 AM »
World Relief: One Family’s story—Finding New Dreams

At first glance, Abdulrahman may appear like any other Seattle hipster, in a flannel shirt and skinny jeans, with a finely groomed beard, his hair tied into a “man-bun.”

Not that long ago, he and his family were refugees, living in Turkey, having left their home country of Iraq. For two years, the 20-something Abdulrahman, along with his wife and daughter, lived in a tightly stacked apartment complex in Sakarya, Turkey.

Their lives were on hold.

Their future uncertain.

Everything they loved had been left behind.

Then one night, Abdulrahman got a call that changed his family’s life. That call brought the news that Abdulrahman, along with his wife, Zeena, and their baby daughter would soon been headed to Seattle. There they would be resettled with help from World Relief.

Stay motivated, he tells them. It’s not easy, but not impossible.

After hearing the news, Abdulrahman turned on the light, threw open his bedroom window and shouted for joy. He and his family were finally headed to America to start their new lives.

Today Abdulrahman is a certified nursing assistant, a full-time student at Everest College, security guard at Star Protection Agency, husband, father and friend to many.

With the help of World Relief’s federal Matching Grant program, he was able to fund his CNA certification and find a job that would accommodate his school schedule while covering the families living expenses.

Abdulrahman’s journey to America started early. He began hanging around U.S. troops who were patrolling the streets of Baghdad during his childhood, and looked up to them as heroes. By the time he was 17, he applied to work as an interpreter for the U.S. military, but was rejected for being too young. A year later, he applied again and was accepted on his 18th birthday. He spent the next four pivotal years of his life working alongside Americans in combat situations, learning U.S. military culture and ethics.

“They taught me so many things,” he says. “They helped make me who I am today.”

Heidi Isaza/ World Relief

Following his years of service to the U.S. military, Abdulrahman went back to school to pursue a degree in law. But on the day of his final exams to complete his degree, his family was threatened. They were forced to flee to Turkey for safety. Abdulrahman could not finish his law degree after nearly four years of investment. But he refused to give up, and began to search for a new dream.

He got a job working in a pharmacy, and began to learn medical terminology by studying the labels on pillboxes. By the time he was granted passage to the U.S., he had a new dream: a career in the medical field.

Almost immediately after his arrival, Abdulrahman began a certification class as a CNA and less than two months later had enrolled full time as a Medical Assistant student at Everest College in Renton. He now utilizes his phone and Google translator to interpret unknown words and concepts from English to Arabic during class lectures. He spends extra time at home memorizing words and definitions in English while simultaneously learning the concept in Arabic.

“Demonstrations and clinicals are easy for me,” he says. Textbook assignments are twice the work.

“They helped make me who I am today.”

Abdulrahman came with a clear vision of what he wanted to accomplish when he came to the United States. He was not naïve in thinking it would be easy. Like anyone else new to this country, he has faced definite challenges that come along with confronting a new culture and place so different from your own.

He often relies on lesson he learned while working with the U.S. military: “Put yourself in the hurricane and be a part of it. Stay calm and don’t freak out.”

In the midst of a whole new world that is swirling around you, Abdulrahman advises all newcomers to the U.S. to have a dream. Stay motivated, he tells them. It’s not easy, but not impossible. Unforgettable moments of joy await.

Source: World Relief: One Family’s story—Finding New Dreams

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[Cfamily]World Relief: Involving Churches in Resettlement
« Reply #58 on: March 12, 2016, 12:00:22 AM »
World Relief: Involving Churches in Resettlement

Lisa, a volunteer from Life Center Church in Spokane, Washington, had never heard of World Relief before she started attending the church.

Then a sermon from Pastor Joe Wittwer caught her attention.

Pastor Joe was preaching about using your spiritual gifts to help others. That made her start wondering—what do I have to offer?

“There were two points that stuck out to me,” says Lisa, in a video produced by the church. “The first one was that you shouldn’t be worried about what you don’t have. Worry about what you do have.”

The second point: If you try, you will succeed.

“I thought, I can try,” says Lisa, “I don’t have a lot to offer but I can try.”

Not long afterwards, she had been through volunteer training with World Relief and was matched up with Bushra and her family. They were refugees from Iraq, who’d resettled in the U.S. after fleeing their home country.

Like many refugees, Bushra often felt isolated and alone, far away from the home she’d left behind. The life she once knew—where her husband had a good job and she was surrounded by family—was gone.

“I missed everything,” says Bushra in the church video.

Refugees who come to America need practical help, like food, clothing, and transportation, along with assistance in navigating American culture: help with school registration, community orientation, job preparation and English tutoring.

Volunteers like Lisa, who are part of church-based Good Neighbor Teams for World Relief, provided much of this assistance for refugees. But they offer something more important—simple human kindness and friendship.

By valuing the stories, dreams and contributions of refugees, churches and small groups are extending the gifts of friendship, belonging, and acceptance to those who are entering an unfamiliar world.

For Lisa and Bushra, what started as a volunteer opportunity soon turned into something deeper and more valuable—a true friendship.

“If you live alone, and you don’t have any family–it’s really hard,” says Bushra. “She’s like my sister now. She’s not my friend, she’s my sister.”

Lisa says that at first she saw volunteer as another job – and wondered if she’d have time to fit it into her life. But volunteering isn’t work, she says.

“It’s been about being someone’s friend,” she says. “And as a result, as with any good friendship, you learn a lot about yourself.”

Lisa has also come to have deep respect for her friend Bushra and what she overcame as a refugee.

“Bushra is quite possibly one of the bravest people I know,” she says. “She resettled her whole family and supported everybody. She is an amazing lady.”

Other churches in Spokane, and around the country, have joined World Relief in ministering to the needs of refugees.

The Good Neighbor team at North Church in Spokane, comprised of people of different ages and stages of life, came alongside recent refugees to Spokane, including an 11-member Muslim family from Somalia.

“We are connected to a mission beyond ourselves as we obey the Great Commission,” said North Church pastor Mark Mead.

He expected the team would be a blessing to refugee families, but he wasn’t expecting the blessings that came to him and his church as a result of serving. In the next year, the church hopes to form six to ten more Good Neighbor Teams.

“We share the mission of Jesus and that is what attracts people to our group,” says Pastor Mead. “Thank you, World Relief for helping mobilize the local church to what moves the heart of God.”

Sometimes all it takes is a small act of faith, says Lisa.

“It’s funny how life goes—you do something little—and sometimes it leads to something big,” she says. “And that is what this has been.”

Source: World Relief: Involving Churches in Resettlement

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[Cfamily]The Hard Work of Making Anne Rice’s Jesus Book into a Movie
« Reply #59 on: March 13, 2016, 12:00:11 AM »
The Hard Work of Making Anne Rice’s Jesus Book into a Movie

It's been a long, rocky road to the big screen for The Young Messiah, but at last, it's here.

The film is based on a 2005 novel called Christ the Lord: Out of Egypt, which takes place when Jesus is seven years old and his family is returning to Nazareth from Egypt. It was written by Anne Rice—best known for her vampire novels—after she returned to the Catholic church. An early attempt to make a film based on the novel fell apart in 2007, and Rice herself publicly quit Christianity in 2010, though she said she still follows Christ.

The book’s film prospects turned a corner when Rice wrote a glowing review of The Stoning of Soraya M., a 2009 movie about the treatment of women in Iran that was directed by Cyrus Nowrasteh, an American of Persian descent. Nowrasteh acquired the rights to Rice’s book, wrote a script with his wife Betsy Giffen Nowrasteh, and got Harry Potter director Chris Columbus to come on board as a producer. The film comes out March 11.

CT spoke to Cyrus Nowrasteh about creating new characters for the film, the tricky nature of movie ratings, the role the film played in his own journey towards Christian faith, and the possibility of a sequel. The interview below has been edited for length and clarity.

How involved was Anne Rice beyond letting you have the rights to the property? Did she have any input after that?

Contractually, no. We acquired the book and ran with it, and we were going to do it the way we wanted. However, we felt that Anne had a lot to contribute, because she had done a lot of the research. Also, we wanted to make changes, and I just felt that, as the original author, she was entitled to be at least consulted and informed. I would do that with any author, whether they have it in their contract or not. So she was well aware of the process of what we were doing, and she was very supportive.

The subplot with the Sean Bean character [a centurion who took part in the slaughter in Bethlehem and now has orders to find Jesus] is not part of the book, and the Devil is in the book but not as prominent as he is in the film. How did you come to the decision to either add or expand those roles in the film?

Is there a better antagonist than the Devil? I don't think so.

Every movie needs an antagonist. If you don't have it, you don't have a movie, you don't have a story. Is there a better antagonist than the Devil? I don't think so. It was just too juicy to pass up, and Anne did have the Devil in her book. We just decided to have him lurking about a little bit more, you know what I mean?

And as far as the Roman centurion and Herod [are concerned], in Anne’s book there’s a lot of talk and description of threats, chaos, discord in the Holy Land, and the fears that the family is encountering—so in a movie, you can’t just say, “Hey, it's dangerous out there.” You know what I mean? You’ve got to show it! It’s got to be alive on screen. You’ve got to have characters who represent it. You have to experience it as a dramatic event through characters. So they were critical, the centurion and Herod, in conveying that idea that was represented in Anne’s novel.

Because it’s a movie about children, do you see this as a family film, or as a film for families or kids? Because the film does have a fair bit of violence in it.

Compared to Risen? I mean, let me tell you something, Peter. It is a joke that our movie and Risen are the same rating. You compare the violence in those two movies. I guarantee that you don't see anything in our movie. You know why? Because I was very careful about it. [It’s] all suggested. All impressionistic. It is the context—this is what I was told by the ratings board—of what is going on that gave us the PG-13.

Source: The Hard Work of Making Anne Rice’s Jesus Book into a Movie

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[Cfamily]Too Sexy for This Selfie
« Reply #60 on: March 14, 2016, 01:04:40 AM »
Too Sexy for This Selfie

I wish I wasn’t seeing this.

Facebook suggested I might like to become “friends” with a teenage acquaintance, who barely resembled the little girl I met years before. No longer carrying a stuffed animal and book in each arm, as I remembered her, she posed in a skimpy top and sultry makeup, as her peers relayed the usual comments: “You’re so pretty!” “Hot!” “Gorgeous!”

I thought of little chats I’d had with her about her favorite books, way back when. I felt a little bit sick. I closed the app. What happened?

Studies estimate American teenagers spend an average of nine hours a day using screens. That’s two hours more than they spend sleeping. Many of these hours are devoted to social media, which some teens admit to checking at least 100 times a day.

For “digital natives”—people who’ve never known a world without the Internet—social media has become the place where relationships are formed, proven, and tested. It also represents an aspirational pathway to fame and fortune, with figures like the Kardashians as sexy, selfie-taking role models.

Nancy Jo Sales’ new book, American Girls: Social Media and the Secret Lives of Teenagers, grew out of a set of troubling questions like mine: How did social media become so sexualized? Why do women and girls get harassed so much online? Why are girls posing like porn stars in selfies?

“Pornography really is central to what’s going on with girls and social media,” journalist and author Nancy Jo Sales told me in a phone conversation from her Manhattan apartment. “It’s one of the biggest issues that we’re facing now—and it’s not being talked about at the level of seriousness that it deserves.”

Author and journalist Nancy Jo Sales

Author and journalist Nancy Jo Sales

I talked to Sales about how porn culture is shaping teens’ use of social media and the need for parents to simply have conversations with their kids about what they do online. We also talked about how screen time is impacting all of us and the ways reading—and religion—can serve as antidotes to the dehumanizing effects of social media abuse and overuse.

You write that much of social media has come out of Silicon Valley, where “a male-dominated culture, some say a ‘frat boy’ culture, populated by ‘brogrammers’ and ‘tech bros’” predominates. How has that shaped these apps and digital cultural more generally?

Imagine it’s the 1970s, and a girl had a snapshot of herself naked, or in a bikini, and took it around school saying, “Like this picture of me; like my bikini pic!” She would have been taken aside for some counseling.

Source: Too Sexy for This Selfie

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[Cfamily]Your Spiritual Crisis Has 214 Likes
« Reply #61 on: March 15, 2016, 01:18:31 AM »
Your Spiritual Crisis Has 214 Likes

It’s been nearly two decades since the psychologist Jeffrey Jensen Arnett coined the phrase “emerging adulthood” to describe young people between the ages of 18 and 29. Previous generations, Arnett observed, moved from adolescence into adulthood without much preamble; it used to be common to marry right out of high school, start a family, and work a steady job.

But then things started to shift. Arnett observed young adults milling about the waiting room before entering adulthood, compounded by an uncertainty about how exactly to start “adulting.” And yes, that verb is now in regular, if still somewhat self-conscious, circulation, thanks to a website of the same name that promises to teach young people “how to become a grown-up,” “in 468 easy(ish) steps.”

Around the time Arnett published his ground-breaking work, Britney Spears, the poet of emerging adulthood, wrote a song called “Not a Girl,” a song which could be considered the ballad of the in-betweeners.

I’m not a girl / Not yet a woman
(I’m not a girl don’t tell me what to believe)
All I need is time / A moment that is mine
While I'm in between

Neither Arnett nor Spears probably fully understood the development that would end up reshaping emerging adulthood more than any other: the emergence of the Internet as the dominant social context of our time. The Internet today is a pervasive presence, a thoroughgoing part of existence. Young adults still experience the intensity of being in-between, living in the “age of identity exploration,” as Arnett put it—only now they experience it online.

It is easy to forget just how new, and how startling, this shift is. In the past, a person could try on different personas as he milled about, waiting for things to really start. He could work out his belief system, his network of friends, his relationship with his parents—all of it in relative privacy. The idea of making any of this truly public, available in principle to anyone and everyone, present and future, while it was still in process, would have been unimaginable (not to mention impossible).

Today most Americans use social media: 62 percent of all adults are on Facebook, according to the Pew Research Center. That rises to 82 percent for those between the ages of 18 and 29, the same demographic that Arnett identifies as milling about the waiting room of adulthood. Facebook may have the reputation of no longer being the trendiest social network, but reports of its death have been greatly exaggerated. Add other social media platforms to the mix—Instagram, Twitter, Tumblr, and so on—and it adds up to this: being a young adult means being online. Being online offers young adults “their very lifeline to the world,” as Arnett stated in a summary of his most recent research on the topic.

The Comment Section Effect

Does it matter that young people are inching toward adulthood, developing their beliefs, their practices, their core identities, all while using social media as a “lifeline to the world”? The short answer is: we don’t know yet. The Internet hasn’t been around long enough to fully assess its effects on human experience. But in the meantime, the question of social media’s influence takes on added complexity for young Christians.

If Augustine had a blog, readers might have lost interest.

Along with the usual concerns all young people share—finding stability, a meaningful job, a relationship that makes the heart sing—for those who profess Christian faith there is a far greater one: working out your own salvation with fear and trembling. Matters of the soul, your place in the church, questions about the goodness of God or even his existence, questions of death, eternity, sin, the problem of evil—matters that have been of concern to young people all along—are now all being worked out in public, in real time. This process used to be a sometimes-agonizing, always-private rite of passage. Not any longer.

Source: Your Spiritual Crisis Has 214 Likes

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[Cfamily]My New Life as a Chimera
« Reply #62 on: March 16, 2016, 01:01:01 AM »
My New Life as a Chimera

The day I received my cancer diagnosis was harrowing. But what followed—learning that the only possible remedy was a risky bone marrow transplant—was even more distressing.

Months after the transplant was completed, I learned from a medical blog that I had become a chimera. Totally unfamiliar with the term, I soon discovered that its first usage, in Homer’s Iliad, described a hybrid monster with a lion’s head, a goat’s body, and a serpent’s tail.

Over time, the definition softened (thankfully) to include mermaids, centaurs and other beings with incongruent parts. Today, the word is used in two primary ways, both benign.

First, it describes animals that possess two sets of DNA—their own and that of their non-identical twin.

Second, scientists employ the concept to describe bone marrow transplant patients who have received life-saving cells from another person. That’s me. Like chimeric cats, we each possess two distinct sets of DNA.

My cancer is relatively rare. Sometime last year, my bones began to produce an increasing number of mutant white cells. If untreated, it would gradually shut my immune system down, much like AIDS does. I would then die, not of the cancer itself, but of a simple common cold.

But then a medical miracle occurred. My brother, Grant, was identified as an identical genetic match. His bone marrow was transfused and my life was spared.

Months afterward, I asked my doctor about my new chimeric identity. With Grant’s DNA now in place, would I suddenly begin to imitate his love of dancing (I’m a horrible dancer)? Would I share his disdain for chocolate (perish the thought)? Would my sense of humor deviate to match his (I won’t comment on who is funnier)?

The doctor smiled and then gave a binary response. He said that if he were to take a swab from the inside of my cheek, the DNA would still be my own. But if he took a blood test, it would no longer be my birth type but Grant’s. Learning of this new reality, one of my adult daughters asked (with a wink): “Are you still my dad?”

Changing Jeans, Changing Genes

Over the past several months, I’ve pondered the use of my new dual identity as a metaphor for the Christian life. In doing so, I’ve come to a startling conclusion: Every believer is chimeric.

In Ephesians 4, Paul writes: “put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires. Put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.”

While his language to “put on” and “put off” refers to changing one’s clothes, I take a degree of license to read it more literally, as changing of one’s genes—the internal code that makes each of us unique.

If bone marrow transplants had existed in his day, Paul might very well have employed it as his preferred metaphor. A transplant is much more graphic than changing one’s clothes in describing the radical change that faith brings to one’s identity and character. It recasts the very core of one’s being from the inside out.

Kill the Deadly Old Nature

Paul exhorts us to shed our “old self” which is “corrupted.” In my battle with bone cancer, my rogue cells had to die—to be “put off”—in order for life to continue.

In a similar manner, our corrupted fallen nature is killing us. Elsewhere, Paul refers to it as a “body of death” that makes us “wretched,” “ hostile to God,” “slaves to sin” and “by nature children of wrath.”

Theologian Reinhold Niebuhr once quipped that “original sin is the only empirically verifiable doctrine of the Christian faith.” It is such an ugly tenet that most of us prefer to ignore it.

But its expression through our daily attitudes and behaviors cannot be denied. Not only have we inherited the warped spiritual DNA of our first ancestor, but we compound the problem with our own vices and misdeeds.

Bone cancer is an apt image of original sin because both are so destructive, detestable and deadly. And both must be dealt with aggressively in order for good health to flourish.

At the moment my body reached its lowest point after chemo and radiation, the doctors transfused my brother’s life-giving blood cells into me. For the next month, as I was kept alive by a cocktail of pills, my wife and I waited anxiously to learn if his cells were grafting. When we finally received word that they were multiplying by the billions, we shed tears of gratitude.

The second part of Paul’s admonition in Ephesians 4, to “put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness,” should move us to adoration.

My medical story is replete with spiritual parallels. To cite the old Baptist hymn, I’ve literally been saved by the blood. As the beneficiary of my brother’s cells, I am now much more keenly attuned to Jesus’ gracious gift of redemption on the Cross. Surely, as we are told in Leviticus, “Life is in the blood.” Never again will I experience Communion or Easter in the same way.

Likewise, I have a much deeper appreciation of the new spiritual nature I received at conversion. Through grace, divine DNA was transplanted into my soul. Phrases like “being born again,” “becoming a new creation,” “conforming to the image of the Son,” and “being changed into his likeness” all now speak to me in a fresh way about the miracle of regeneration.

And I’m intensely grateful that Jesus attacked the ravages of original sin head-on. By becoming a “second Adam,” his new spiritual DNA superseded that transmitted by our first ancestor. Paul puts it succinctly: “For if, by the trespass of the one man [Adam], death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God’s abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ!” (Rom. 5:17)

While I hate to compare myself to Adam and my brother to Jesus (after all, we were sibling rivals growing up), the analogy works. My cells were sick and dying; Grant’s were healthy and life-giving. Reversing the story of Cain and Abel, my elder brother gave me life. In like manner, Jesus redeems and gives us hope.

My Civil War

Every Christian is a spiritual chimera. Within each of us simultaneously resides both the new nature of Jesus and the old nature of Adam. As Martin Luther aptly observed, “Both will continue in us our whole life long.”

I wish I could claim that all of my cancerous cells are gone. But, even post-transplant, some live on, continuing to wage a civil war within me. Accordingly, my doctors are ever vigilant to monitor the sinister presence of these bad cells in order to take appropriate medical action.

Just so, even after we come to faith, the effects of our old nature continue to linger. This is the basic message of Ephesians 4: though redeemed, we must continuously “put off” (present tense) the old self and its vices. As with my cancerous cells, regression is quite possible. That’s why Paul goes on to exhort his readers not to commit sins such as dishonesty, anger, greed, and sensuality.

Though we possess new natures, our old DNA continues to clamor for attention. Like chimeric transplant patients, each of us must take both affirmative steps (practice spiritual disciplines) and negative precautions (avoid unholy choices). Our new identities, while initiated at conversion, must be cultivated with life-long intentionality.

The good news is that after we die, our souls (and bodies) will be purged of all such mutations. This restoration will go far beyond the innocence experienced in the Garden of Eden. We will, rather, be conformed into the very image of Christ himself.

I now celebrate three birthdays: physical (being born), spiritual (being born again) and transplant (being born again again). I still dance poorly, love sweets and retain my own odd sense of humor. And I am—thank God—still alive.

Alec Hill left the presidency of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship in 2015, following his myelodysplasia diagnosis. He recently returned in a new role as president emeritus. He is a board member of Christianity Today.

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Source: My New Life as a Chimera

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[Cfamily]Watching Wendell Berry, The Mad Farmer
« Reply #63 on: March 17, 2016, 01:01:45 AM »
Watching Wendell Berry, The Mad Farmer

'The Seer'

'The Seer'

The Seer's subtitle is “A Portrait of Wendell Berry,” but that's not strictly accurate. Berry (who is 81) only appears on screen in old photographs and footage from the 1977 debate between him and former Secretary of Agriculture Earl Butz. He speaks to director Laura Dunn throughout the film, though, and his wife Tanya and daughter Mary appear as well, along with a number of farmers from Henry County, Kentucky, where the Berrys have made their home for a long time.

So we do learn about his life. But The Seer is only sort of biographical, and that seems like at least partly Berry's doing. Just last week, when asked in The New York Times's “By the Book” feature whom he'd want to write his life story, Berry replied, “A horrible thought. Nobody. As the only person who ever has lived my life, I know that most of it can never be documented, is beyond writing and beyond words.”

Luckily, The Seer—which premiered in competition at SXSW on March 12 and was directed, edited, and produced by Dunn—has a much grander goals than hagiography.

Berry is the rare writer and activist who can't be claimed by a single party: beloved by the right for his localist pro-family traditionalism and the left for his localist anti-corporate activism, Berry's writings—which make an unswerving case for a return to the farm, the family, faith, and all that is traditional and local—have taken on an unquestioned totemic quality among a lot of evangelicals.

Wendell Berry in 'The Seer'

Wendell Berry in 'The Seer'

I'm uneasy about that. Years ago, Robert Joustra and I wrote in Books & Culture about Berry and the local food movement, and while I took the pro-Berry side in our exchange, Rob wrote that “to be truly virtuous in a globalized world means that our justice must be scalable,” and that line has stuck with me as a way of explaining what parts of Berry's writing I find problematic.

Berry sometimes seems to be writing polemics meant for a world that barely exists. Rooting in place and community and limits look very different for twenty-first century urbanites who are lawyers and IT professionals than it does for farmer-poets in Henry County. Without probing the edges of his arguments and trying to work them into the broader globalized context, those who read him limit the possibilities of what he's saying. He also needs interpreters.

I suspect Berry knows this, and that's why he writes poetry and fiction: his ideas take on a more universal quality when particularized to his characters in the fictional Port William, or to his Mad Farmer poems. He's most coherently viewed as a prophet. And he's been recognized as one through numerous awards, including the National Humanities Medal, awarded by President Obama in 2010. “I don't think that you can love those old values and love what has come to be American agriculture at the same time,” he says.

So it is fitting that Dunn's appropriately-titled film is actually a cinematic elegy for American farming and a plea for renewal. It both mourns and celebrates a way of life that is threatened. In a number of “chapters” with titles drawn from Berry's writings, farmers and family—who in the film are only identified on screen by their role: daughter, wife, farmer—speak of their love of the land and the creative and intuitive intelligence a farmer must develop to tend to his own. They talk frankly about the havoc wreaked on them by the rise of commercialized, large-scale farming, especially in the Philip Morris-subsidized farming of tobacco. Mexican farm workers talk about their jobs, and farmers talk about how labor has shifted. Some of them talk about being in debt so deep that they can't recover. (There's a smattering of salty language.) They talk about the impact the work of Berry and others have had to stem this tide; initiatives like community supported agriculture and farmer's markets, which are now ubiquitous in both the rural town where I grew up and my home in Brooklyn, owe a debt to Berry.

Source: Watching Wendell Berry, The Mad Farmer

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