As we hurtled toward Shakespeare, Ontario, I felt a familiar cold visceral tightness and fear. “Shakespeare,” I brooded. “I hope the name isn’t an omen. ‘Shakespeare’ suggests tragedy. Or worse, comedy.”
Wendell Berry has lived as a farmer and writer in Kentucky for a quarter century. In his fiction, essays and poetry, he often meditates on the human relation to the earth. His poem “The Slip” is precipitated by a disaster. A river bank has given way, leaving an acre of farmland swallowed by water.
The latest wave of sexual abuse scandals crashing upon Catholic parishes and chanceries has apparently missed most Protestant churches. In fact, analysts and insurers give credit to mainline churches for adopting policies and practices in the early 1990s aimed at protecting minors from coercive intimacy in congregational settings.
Analysts of industrial nations often are perplexed by the continuing high level of religious activity in the United States. According to historians, this persistent vitality of congregational life is the result of overlapping waves of renewal rather than a steady growth from pioneer strengths.
The U.S. war against terrorism since September 11 has obscured a longstanding yet growing set of dysfunctional relationships between this nation and most other nations. The U.S. has become disconnected from the interests and perspectives of other nations on every continent due to its isolationism, lack of cooperation, and unilateral actions.