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Wendell Berry has been writing about the demise of rural America ever since he gave up a good job in New York City to move home to the family farm in Kentucky and receive the wisdom that was his birthright. A longtime nature writer and an accomplished poet, he says he became an activist because nothing else has moved the needle against society’s deep-seated desire to deny the obvious. He sees the way corporations spin and twist the facts about the consequences of their war on the environment as nothing short of diabolical. Nature’s way of doing things is just the opposite, he contends. Honest and true. “Sacred” is the word Berry uses. He calls man-made systems that sanction the humiliation and torture of other living creatures acts of desecration.
Taking an animal that nature gave a metabolism that let it live comfortably outdoors even in winter, and a digestive system that let it thrive on pasture-grown grass, and a temperament that let it coexist peacefully with other farm animals and even its human predators, and sharp hooves that let it work the soil and keep it enriched and teeming with organic life — taking that animal out of nature to Wendell Berry represents a monstrous misreading of Gospel. He calls it a crime against God.
Bonnie Blodgett is a writer in St. Paul. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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