Today’s response to Wendell Berry’s essay “The Gift of Good Land” comes from pastor, author, and sustainable homesteader Tri Robinson.
“The Gift of Good Land,” was published 30 years ago, and we reprinted it in the Fall 2009 issue of Flourish Magazine to celebrate Mr. Berry’s work, but also to provoke some questions: How has the natural world, and efforts to steward it, changed in these 30 years? How has Christianity changed? What is still relevant about Mr. Berry’s words today? What have been our successes and failures as creation’s stewards in these three decades? Where do we go from here?
We’ve asked a wide variety of Christian thinkers, writers, and leaders to respond to Mr. Berry’s essay, taking into consideration these questions and their own relevant experiences. Here is Tri Robinson’s reflection.
Doing Good in the Good Land
By Tri Robinson
Wendell Berry’s message in “The Gift of Good Land” may be more relevant today than when it was written over thirty years ago. With a very succinct and clear approach, Berry has reminded me that true heroism is far more dependent on a life that tenaciously makes consistent, long term, and righteous choices than one that pursues the notoriety of being an advocate for reformation.
Reading through this essay has taken me to a place of personal examination. This is not a place of simple intellectual contemplation, but a place that challenges how I will respond to creation’s degradation with my personal choices and the way I live. It has challenged me to ask uncomfortable questions concerning the congruency between my orthodoxy and orthopractice when it comes to my biblical mandate to care for creation. Does my life authentically reflect the truth of this mandate that I so passionately proclaim? Will I live my life in a way that reflects what I believe about the land being a gift from God? And in doing so, will I take seriously my responsibility to be His steward and advocate for it? Am I willing to sacrifice my short term comfort and security because I understand that excessive consumption is robbing future generations, as well as contemporary humanity, of the resources needed for a sustainable existence? These are vital questions that Berry convincingly challenges every serious Christian to consider. It is our responsibility to be more than just voices calling out to care for creation—we must live sustainable lives that do so, as well.
Tri Robinson pastors Vineyard Christian Fellowship of Boise and is the author of three books by Ampelon Publishing including, Saving God’s Green Earth and Small Footprint, Big Handprint. Tri’s newest book, Rooted in Good Soil, will be available in early spring 2010 through Baker Books.