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“My work has been motivated,” Wendell Berry has written, “by a desire to make myself responsibly at home in this world and in my native and chosen place.” In Home Economics, a collection of fourteen essays, Berry explores this process and continues to discuss what it means to make oneself “responsibly at home.”
His title reminds us that the very root of economics is stewardship, household management. To paraphrase Confucius, a healthy planet is made up of healthy nations that are simply healthy communities sharing common ground, and communities are gatherings of households. A measure of the health of the planet is economics—the health of its households. Any process of destruction or healing must begin at home. Berry speaks of the necessary coherence of the “Great Economy,” as he argues for clarity in our lives, our conceptions, and our communications. To live is not to pass time, but to spend time.
Whether as critic or as champion, Wendell Berry offers careful insights into our personal and national situation in a prose that is ringing and clear.
“Wherever we live, however we do so, we desperately need a prophet of responsibility; and although the days of the prophets seem past to many of us, Berry may be the closest to one we have. But, fortunately, he is also a poet of responsibility. He makes one believe that the good life may not only be harder than what we’re used to but sweeter as well.”—The New York Review of Books