When I first read Wendell Berry's 1985 essay "What Are People For?" 12 years ago, I was in college preparing to do exactly what Berry says that colleges prepare people to do—move to someplace that is not home and serve the economy. I read with academic disinterest his lament for the fate of the many "country people" who moved to cities and became unemployed.
In the Feb. 3 New Republic, Alan Wolfe, the magazine's
go-to reviewer on matters of religion, seems to buy into the account of Dietrich Bonhoeffer that Eric
Metaxas gives in his new biography Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy.
The Scottish Enlightenment of the 18th century was fascinating because it pondered the deepest questions of how a social order can be structured to maximize human welfare. This movement explored human nature and the social institutions that would work best with the forces that really govern behavior.
Glenn Hinson recalls his first visit to the Abbey of Gethsemani in Kentucky with a group of Baptist seminarians. They heard a talk by Thomas Merton on contemplation. One student asked Merton a question along these lines: “What is a smart fellow like you doing in a place like this?” Hinson expected a stiff rebuke from Merton. Instead, Merton said: “I am here because I believe in prayer. That is my vocation.” It had never occurred to Hinson before to think of prayer as a vocation (Weavings, vol. 30, no. 1).