Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front

by Wendell Berry

From The Country of Marriage (Harcourt, 1975)

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more
of everything ready-made. Be afraid
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know.

So, friends, every day do something
that won’t compute. Love the Lord.
Love the world. Work for nothing.
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it.
Denounce the government and embrace
the flag. Hope to live in that free
republic for which it stands.
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man
has not encountered he has not destroyed.

Ask the questions that have no answers.
Invest in the millenium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.
Say that the leaves are harvested
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.

Put your faith in the two inches of humus
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion – put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come.
Expect the end of the world. Laugh.
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts.
So long as women do not go cheap
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep
of a woman near to giving birth?

Go with your love to the fields.
Lie down in the shade. Rest your head
in her lap. Swear allegiance
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos
can predict the motions of your mind,
lose it. Leave it as a sign
to mark the false trail, the way
you didn’t go. Be like the fox
who makes more tracks than necessary,
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

When we get out of the glass bottles of our ego,

and when we escape like squirrels turning in the
cages of our personality
and get into the forests again,

we shall shiver with cold and fright
but things will happen to us
so that we don’t know ourselves.

Cool, unlying life will rush in,
and passion will make our bodies taut with power,

we shall stamp our feet with new power
and old things will fall down,

we shall laugh, and institutions will curl up like
burnt paper.

~D. H. Lawrence

I can hardly wait
for the day that all this contrast
comes in to focus,
and I see it from above.

but oh how I love the pitch and peak of the story, the flashlight
at God's chin as he reads me
my next turn.

We all agree. Yes we do. Yes.

If I am being honest,
and not the kind of honest that asks for the
permission to say hurtful things under the mask
of honesty,

but honest in the sense that I share something that
may be unpopular:

I'd say 95% of the time
I fear exploring my culture-enforced beliefs,
I fear questioning the doctrinal authority of Paul,
and the salvation story
and the implications on sin and judgment if choice is an illusion,

because of social discomfort and alienation,
rather than upsetting or frustrating or disgracing God.

I wonder what that says about my true allegiance,
and if I am unique,
and the Christian quest for truth over the establishment of a comfortable culture
and the fiction of communal accord.