Hate has no world

Hate has no world.
The people of hate must try
to possess the world of love,
for it is the only world;
it is Heaven and Earth.
But as lonely, eager hate
possesses it, it disappears;
it never did exist,
and hate must seek another
world that love has made.

From Wendell Berry, A Timbered Choir: The Sabbath Poems 1979-1997

If I kill my enemy

Peaceableness toward enemies is an idea that will, of course, continue to be denounced as impractical. It has been too little tried by individuals, much less by nations. It will not readily or easily serve those who are greedy for power. It cannot be effectively used for bad ends. It could not be used as the basis of an empire. It does not afford opportunities for profit. It involves danger to practitioners. It requires sacrifice. And yet it seems to me that it is practical, for it offers the only escape from the logic of retribution.

… The logic of retribution implies no end and no hope. If I kill my enemy, and his brother kills me, and my brother kills his brother, and so on and on, we may all have strong motives and even good reasons; the world may be better off without all of us. And yet this is a form of behavior that we have wisely outlawed. We have outlawed it, that is, in private life. In our national life, it remains the established and honored procedure.

… Peaceableness is not … passive. It is the ability to act to resolve conflict without violence. If it is not a practical and a practicable method, it is nothing. … In the face of conflict, the peaceable person may find several solutions, the violent person only one.

Wendell Berry, ‘Peaceableness toward Enemies’, in Sex, Economy, Freedom and Community

Looking into one another’s eyes

In his essay ‘Sex, Economy, Freedom, and Community’, Berry laments contemporary society’s ‘gravitation of attention from the countenance, especially the eyes, to the specifically sexual anatomy’, noting that

the countenance is both physical and spiritual. There is much testimony to this in the poetic tradition and elsewhere. Looking into one another’s eyes, lovers recognize their encounter as a meeting not merely of two bodies but of two living souls. In one another’s eyes, moreover, they see themselves reflected not narcissistically but as singular beings, separate and small, far inferior to the creature that they together make. In this meeting of eyes, there is an acknowledgment that love is more than sex.

Modern Christianity has stood silently by

Modern Christianity … has, for the most part, stood silently by while a predatory economy has ravaged the world, destroyed its natural beauty and health, divided and plundered its human communities and households. It has flown the flag and chanted the slogans of empire.

Wendell Berry, ‘Christianity and the Survival of Creation’, Sex, Economy, Freedom and Community

Sermons and churches

Most sermons are preached without any awareness at all that the making of sermons is an art that has at times been magnificent. Most modern churches look like they were built by robots without reference to the heritage of church architecture or respect for the place; they embody no awareness that work can be worship.

Wendell Berry, ‘Christianity and the Survival of Creation’, Sex, Economy, Freedom and Community

An idea so far not accepted

‘Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you and persecute you.’ … It is an idea given to our civilization but so far not accepted.

Wendell Berry, ‘Peaceableness toward Enemies’, in Sex, Economy, Freedom and Community