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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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Many acts of faithfulness

'I know your love, faith, service and patient endurance' (Revelation 2:19)

As I pray for the upcoming ELCA Churchwide Assembly, I remember some of the lessons I learned from Wendell Berry's powerful novel Jayber Crow.

The larger narrative of Jayber — the town barber, lover of the land, and gatherer and preserver of the community — stands in sharp contrast to an inner story of Troy Chatham. Chatham's many small (and sometimes large) reckless acts of self-interest and greed ruin the land and cause him to lose everything in the end.

Jayber's faithful life profoundly illustrates Berry's comments about land and community in his essay "Conservation and Local Economy" (see "Resource" below). He emphasizes that soil erosion doesn't occur "in a huge slab," so no one can "engineer a glamorous, large, and speedy solution" (which would probably cause other problems too).


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