Cultivating Faith, Community, and the Land
264 pages, 6.00 x 9.00
Hardcover | 9780268203092 | August 2022
eBook (EPUB) | 9780268203085 | August 2022
eBook (Web PDF) | 9780268203115 | August 2022
This refreshing work offers a distinctly agrarian reframing of spiritual practices to address today’s most pressing social and ecological concerns.
For thousands of years most human beings drew their daily living from, and made sense of their lives in reference to, the land. Growing and finding food, along with the multiple practices of home maintenance and the cultivations of communities, were the abiding concerns that shaped what people understood about and expected from life. In Agrarian Spirit, Norman Wirzba demonstrates how agrarianism is of vital and continuing significance for spiritual life today. Far from being the exclusive concern of a dwindling number of farmers, this book shows how agrarian practices are an important corrective to the political and economic policies that are doing so much harm to our society and habitats. It is an invitation to the personal transformation that equips all people to live peaceably and beautifully with each other and the land.
Agrarian Spirit begins with a clear and concise affirmation of creaturely life. Wirzba shows that a human life is inextricably entangled with the lives of fellow animals and plants, and that individual flourishing must always include the flourishing of the habitats that nourish and sustain our life together. The book explores how agrarian sensibilities and responsibilities transform the practices of prayer, perception, mystical union, humility, gratitude, and hope. Wirzba provides an elegant and compelling account of spiritual life that is both attuned to ancient scriptural sources and keyed to addressing the pressing social and ecological concerns of today. Scholars and students of theology, ecotheology, and spirituality, as well as readers interested in agrarian and environmental studies, will gain much from this book.
Norman Wirzba is the Gilbert T. Rowe Distinguished Professor of Christian Theology at Duke Divinity School and senior fellow at the Kenan Institute for Ethics at Duke University. He is the author and editor of sixteen books, including This Sacred Life: Humanity’s Place in a Wounded World.
"Norman Wirzba has done it again: this is—literally and figuratively—the most grounded (and grounding) book I've read in a long age. It will lead you to contemplation, and then, if you're lucky, to change." —Bill McKibben, author of The Comforting Whirlwind
"This lovely book is full of invigorating surprises. For the many of us who don’t live on farms, Wirzba’s reflections offer an invitation to reclaim in practical ways our relationship with the earth and its creatures who, with us, depend on all that has been entrusted to us for stewardship, for sharing, and for grateful enjoyment." —Marilyn Chandler McEntyre, author of Caring for Words in a Culture of Lies
"What ails us most is not susceptible of mere technological remediation, which by now has become an expensive enterprise in endless and ineffectual tinkering. Our most serious problems run much deeper, and they require the diagnostic and prescriptive powers of a mind at once capacious, clear, and reverent—a mind such as we see at work here. This would merely be a fine book were it not also a necessary one." —Jason Peters, author of The Culinary Plagiarist
“Incisive in its critical analysis, Agrarian Spirit is inspirational in how it opens up renewed possibilities of collective flourishing in our wounded world.” —Kate Rigby, author of Reclaiming Romanticism
"Norman Wirzba traces, in bold compelling strokes, the difference between the world taken as creation to be inhabited in gratitude and as nature to be exploited in greed, the difference between the world as commodity and the world as relationship. In the context of that difference he explores specific hands-on practices and disciplines that make it possible to live as a soil-embracing creature of God outside the grasp of an anti-creation economy of greed. This welcome book offers transformative energy and courage for a different way of living." —Walter Brueggemann, author of A Wilderness Zone
"With uncommon depth and breadth, Norman Wirzba’s Agrarian Spirit urges us to embrace and celebrate human and non-human creatures as co-becoming, embodied expressions of God’s creating and sustaining love. He urges us to acknowledge our self-insufficiency and our dependence on others as a gift and as a challenge to develop the nurturing relationships that can heal our world and inspire our hope." —Steve Bell, author of the Pilgrim Year book series
"Agrarian Spirit is a beautiful consideration of what it means to be interdependent and embodied. Wirzba opens up the possibilities of stewardship and care to all humans living in community, no matter their locale or vocation, and roots the truths of an agrarian faith in the example of Christ." —Grace Olmstead, author of Uprooted
"Norman Wirzba's agrarian spiritual exercises reposition us 'down and among' all living things, close to the God who sustains the life of every creature. Agrarian Spirit renews our desire to make a home in this world and to keep faith with the generations coming after us." —Stephanie Paulsell, co-editor of Goodness and the Literary Imagination
"If 'incarnate spirituality' sounds like an oxymoron to you, let Norman Wirzba be your guide to the agrarian arts of faith. This book is the culmination of decades of thinking and writing and work, and there is no writer better equipped to articulate how an agrarian sensibility should shape our spiritual practices.” —Jeffrey Bilbro, author of Reading the Times and editor-in-chief at Front Porch Republic
“Agrarian Spirit isn’t luddite, nostalgic, or angry. Rather, it’s a gentle, wise, and hopeful call forward, casting a vision for how to live as God’s people in God’s world. I loved this book, and it flooded my imagination with pictures of what the Kingdom of Heaven could be, right now, right in my neighborhood.” —Andrew Peterson, author of The God of the Garden
"This is an inspiring synthesis of current ecological thought and spiritual reflection in the Christian tradition. . . . Wirzba acknowledges the difficulties in constructing this vision alongside the spotty record of ecological care in Christianity's past, yet he still finds possibilities within the tradition to create a framework that draws on religious meaning and energy to advocate a holistic, responsively ecological way of living." —Library Journal
"There are multiple books on the philosophy and history of American agrarianism, but Norman Wirzba provides—for the first time—a comprehensive 'spirituality' of agrarian consciousness. . . . Wirzba’s book comes at the right moment, pointing us to the shared vulnerability—the deep interconnectedness—that is at the same time our plight and our salvation." —Current
"This is an outstanding place to start for both personal and communal work in the redemption of our earthly call to live fully within God’s creation and live wholly in our creaturely selves. . . . Wirzba offers this gift to the church as a way for all of us to cast aside an ideology we may not have known we have, one that puts humans in a singular relationship with God and leaves all the rest of His good creation as merely a backdrop." —Christian Scholar's Review
"I knew this would be a good book, and it is. In his typical clear style, Norman Wirzba takes complex philosophical arguments, agrarian practical insights, and solid theological teaching and mixes them together in accessible prose to encourage and challenge readers." —The Christian Century