Book review: Jayber Crow

I picked up a copy of Wendell Berry’s Jayber Crow on the recommendation of Andrew Peterson and some of the other folks at The Rabbit Room. It promised to fit into my recent exploration of agrarianism, simple living, and earthy Christianity — and in that regard I wasn’t disappointed. I wasn’t disappointed in most regards. The book was brilliant. It’s the closest thing to literature that I’ve read in some time (too much Hornby and Bryson and McCall Smith for me of late), and I’m glad I took the time to invest in this one. The writing is at once simple and profound, and it’s filled with snippets of Berry’s wisdom like: “Every shakeable thing has got to be shaken,” and “But here is maybe a harder thing that I have thought of at last: What if they endured and suffered through so many years together because, even failing each other, they loved each other?”

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Introducing: 11th Hour Ale

“The time has come,” the Walrus said,
“To talk of many things:
Of hops—and wort—and homebrewed beer—
Of barley malt—and yeast.”

You’re right — the Walrus never said any of that. But no one cares about cabbages and kings, right? Not when my first attempt at homebrewing is sitting in the fridge, waiting for me.

And so, in honor of the occasion, I present to you, the faithful few, my inaugural live blogging endeavor:

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Out with the Old, in with the New

Yesterday, after nine months of determined devotion, I finally finished my first entire read-through of the Old Testament. Genesis through Malachi. “In the beginning” all the way to “lest I come and strike the land with a decree of utter destruction.

I won’t be stopping here, of course. The New Testament is on the other side of the page, and I’m eager to get started — but it’s worth reflecting on what I’ve noticed while reading through the L. and the P.

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In Defense of Being Dull

Earlier today, as I was having the get-to-know-you conversation with Group Tour Media’s newest editorial intern, Carly, I informed her that, in my exact words, “I’m actually pretty dull.”

She tried to tell me (though she knew me not at all), that surely I must be mistaken. Dullness, she seemed to think, is a bad thing. Many people believe this.

I’m not one of these people.

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It isn’t always that simple…

Simplicity has been a recurring theme in my life lately. Through books, movies, conversations, t-shirts, and bumper stickers, I’ve been relentlessly pursued by the gentle insistence that I need to simplify. In some regards, this is nothing new. When Becca and I were house shopping a few years ago, I told her, “I want something nice, and big enough for the family we hope to have — but modest.” No ostentation for me, thank you very much.

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Already and not yet

I’ve come across the concept of “already, but not yet” often enough recently that it’s stuck with me. I’m pretty sure that it has theological significance (the kingdom of God is both “already” and “not yet” here, or something like that), but I last thought of it while showing a friend my garden earlier this afternoon.

To be honest, my garden is an embarrassment. Sure, it has been yielding a fair share of crops — a zucchini the size of my thigh, for example, and grape tomatoes that are so sweet when you bite into them that they almost taste like candy — but the edges are overgrown with weeds, my corn stalks are pathetically thin, and my pepper plants have been eaten by pests of some sort or another. It was clear to me, and to my friend, that I don’t have the time to maintain a garden.

This is where the already and the not yet come into things. I already have a garden, but I’m not yet ready to take care of it properly. And it isn’t just the garden: as a general rule, I have an already/not yet understanding of most of my life.

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Back in the game

I hate myself.

That is to say, I hate people who Announce their Return To Blogging in a blog post, which is exactly what I’m doing here. Ergo: I hate myself. The truth is, I’ve needed to blog for a while — I’ve got things to say (I think), my wife and a handful of friends have been encouraging me to get back into it, and I’ve realized that any self-respecting writer has his own blog (I’ve realized the same thing about Twitter, but I’m not sure I want to go there again).

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