Monday, August 11, 2014

Jayber Crow: looking for a well lived life

I am almost done with Wendell Berry's favorite book: Jayber Crow.

My favorite is Hannah Coulter. BUT I want my students to read a story
about "calling." 

Steven Garber calls it a book of pilgrimage. "   with the ability to grow one's heart."

How is the vocation of a barber similar to being a pastor?
This book illustrates many, many stories of a place called Port Williams where 
many give each other a cup of cold water. Isn't that what Jesus said to do?!
How do you love your neighbor?
Breath deeply. 
Stay put. 

"On Sunday mornings I go up to ring the bell and sit through the service. I don't attend altogether for religious reasons. I feel more religious, in fact, here beside this corrupt and holy stream."

Do you see Berry's weltanschauung? 

“If you have lived in Port William a little more than two years, you are still, by Port William standards, a stranger, liable to have your name mispronounced” 

Trust takes time.  We feel as those in Port Williams: the crushing feeling of modern life. 

There are echoes of Dante : Jayber's love for Mattie Chatham is like Beatrice and a few
lines referring to the circles of Hell made me smile. The Inferno. 

Your heart feels just like it does in Jan Karon's Mitford , although it is harder to break into Port Williams and there is agrarianism , farmers abounding.: “One was, I felt at home. There is more to this than I can explain. I just felt at home. After I got to Port William , I didn’t feel any longer that I needed to look around to see if there was someplace I would like better” 

I don't know of many books that give wisdom within a story as to how to be content 
and to examine life. Jayber's gives us his  journey of vocation and belonging. You want to have him cut your hair!

What I sent my students tonight with a map and geneology of Port Williams:
( Wendell Berry)
As you read Jayber Crow by Wendell Berry:
Remember to copy sentences or ideas that strike you for beauty, goodness and truth.
Just copy in your journal Beautiful crafted sentences.
( disregard the curse words...! It is the flavor Berry gave the book )
Jayber wrestles with the big ideas of life. THINK upon how he tests what he believes.
It took him a lifetime to live into the questions he posed to Dr. Ardmire in the beginning of the book.
( in seminary)
Think about as you read:
Did Jayber  become wiser?  What is membership?
What is community ?
Berry pronounces so much to be good  in this story  which is being crushed by modern life.
Wendell Berry’s  “weltanschauung” ( worldview) is mirrored in Jayber’s life story and introspection.
Think about what is important to living a life well lived.
This is a story about calling.
How did Jayber  Jayber find what he was called to do?
What is education? What does his vocation do for others?
This is Wendell Berry’s favorite novel.
Mine is Hannah Coulter.
Mrs. Buckingham
a fun quote:
He famously doesn’t own a computer and has written all of his books in longhand.
Wendell announces that in response to our culture of instant messaging, he has just founded a new cause, the Slow Communication Movement. Certainly we embody that spirit today, and it feels good. ( interviewer using a small notebook) It is a more leisurely, more deliberate form of communication, and it isn’t limited to 140 characters.


Sara at Come Away With Me said...

Love that last paragraph - the idea of his Slow Communication Movement!

I read Hannah Coulter and a book of short stories but nothing else. Tried one of his non-fictions but did not finish it. I agree he certainly does include so much wisdom within his stories about how to be content and examine life. Hannah Coulter really forced me to look at some things in my own life; caused some pain and soul searching and finally there was peace on the particular issue. Peace with a lack that time has stolen any chance of it being satisfied . . .

melissa said...

Not sure which of his I've read, but do appreciate the reminder to slow down.