Practice Resurrection

The next to last chapter in The Slavery of Death is entitled "Practicing Resurrection."

When I was at Fuller Theological a few weeks ago Ron Wright and Paul Jones asked me if I got that turn of phrase--practicing resurrection--from Wendell Berry's poem Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front.

The poem can be found in Berry's recently published collection The Mad Farmer Poems.

Many of you know the poem, with its profound final line:
Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front

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.

--by Wendell Berry from his collection The Mad Farmer Poems
I told Ron and Paul that I couldn't recall if I got the title for my chapter from Berry's poem. But I can't rule out possibility that I'd come across the line at some point and it was rattling around in my brain.

Regardless, I told Ron and Paul that we need to make some t-shirts the the words "practice resurrection" across the back.

Practice resurrection.

Amen. That will preach. That will most certainly preach.

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4 thoughts on “Practice Resurrection”

  1. Wendell Berry is one of my favorites. I do not yet have ..MAD FARMER.., but I have his book THIS DAY: NEW AND COLLECTED SABBATH POEMS as well as his little book BLESSED ARE THE PEACE MAKERS, which I keep by my bed and read from each night before retiring. I also happen to be in the middle of his book of essays, WHAT ARE PEOPLE FOR? for my morning reading. His piece regarding Edward Abbey, one who "slaughtered" every sacred cow he knew is well worth the price of the book.

    What I love about Berry is that he is a common, yet beautiful human being simply because, as you have used the phrase, he PRACTICES RESURRECTION. This is what i see missing from most practicing Evangelicals. He finds life in each day, in each moment, from what is in front of his face. Neither movements, nor religion, per se, give him pride and purpose. From stones and trees scattered across his land, to people, strangers, who happen to walk by him on a busy day, it is all brand new, a birthing of another sacred moment. I do not see this in most occupiers of church pews. Their sacred moment is the "easy like a Sunday morning" feeling, which is, in some respects, well and good, I guess. But that often crashes into a Monday morning dullness that observes and interprets creation and time as things simply constructed by God, rather than BEING, continuously birthed and filled by God.

  2. "Tongue in Cheek, but Only Partly," Brent Auvermann, 2014

    put blind faith in humus that grows an

    inch every thousand years under the trees

    reject the green revolution as

    industrial oppression

    and fascism

    and environmental imperialism

    enjoy watching people starve

    for more reasons than

    this, but not for fewer

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