Re-Membering Home: Wendell Berry's Response to the Gnostic Abstraction of Place




Lunsford, Sarah

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The modern world is by and large in a cultural crisis of displacement. This is allowed for by gnostic tendencies that place the entire vale of home in the abstract qualities of it and disregard the worth of particular places. Wendell Berry’s fiction shows a counter to this. Grounded in firmly fixed communities running generations deep, his stories show how the cultivation of place breeds affection and attachment to it in the midst of a cultural current that offers no explanation of or defense for homes. The physicality of place matters as it interacts and leads upward to spiritual realities. This is seen in the love of Hannah Coulter, the faith of Jayber Crow, and the hope of Andy Catlett, given to their place and given to them through their place. In these ways places, and especially homes, have sacramental value with the ability to lift one upward to the ultimate and final Home.