Everybody’s Business

Wendell Berry on the commercialization of sex:

The triumph of the industrial economy is the fall of community. But the fall of community reveals how precious and how necessary community is. For when community falls, so must fall all the things that only community life can engender and protect: the care of the old, the care and education of children, family life, neighborly work, the handing down of memory, the care of the earth, respect for nature and the lives of wild creatures. All of these things have been damaged by the rule of industrialism, but of all the damaged things probably the most precious and the most damaged is sexual love. For sexual love is the heart of community life. Sexual love is the force that in our bodily life connects us most intimately to the Creation, to the fertility of the world, to farming and the care of animals. It brings us into the dance that holds the community together and joins it to its place.

Sex, Economy, Freedom & Community, page 133

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  • Bruce Nuffer

    Mar 18, 2014 - Reply

    You know, I typically like what Berry says, but I am not ready to accept this one yet. I know, I haven’t read the book, and perhaps I’d understand better if I had more context. But sexual love makes us better farmers and providers of animals? Come on. Notwithstanding the fact that you could probably create an extensive list of world class farmers and animal providers who were abstinent (including Dian Fossey), the logical leap from the phrase, “…sexual love is the heart of community life…” to “Sexual love is the force that in our bodily life connects us most intimately to the Creation…” is totally absent and not at all obvious.

  • Elizabeth Perry

    Mar 18, 2014 - Reply

    Good points, Bruce. I thought this quote pretty provocative and worth a conversation, but also mysterious. And, like you mentioned, this one paragraph doesn’t do justice to the larger picture Berry paints in his book regarding the practice/responsibility of love vs. the emotion/consumption of love (which he connects to husbandry and creation care). I highly recommend this read if you’re at all interested. . . one of my favorites to date!

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