Over the past couple of Sundays, Bill has been quoting from a book with a particularly compelling title: Ents, Elves, and Eriador: The Environmental Vision of J.R.R. Tolkien (by Matthew Dickerson & Jonathan Evans). Just when you think you’ve begun to appreciate the depth of Tolkien’s many layered significance, you realize there’s yet another level. In this case: the environment. Exciting to consider, but not surprising from the man who invented Ents.
In fact, the book is part of a larger series from the University of Kentucky Press called CULTURE OF THE LAND: A SERIES IN THE NEW AGRARIANISM. Their advisory board (including the likes of Wendell Berry) describes their vision thusly:
"This series is devoted to the exploration and articulation of a new agrarianism that considers the health of habitats and human communities together. Far from being a naïve call to return to the land, and thus merely a reverse exodus to the country, the books in the series Culture of the Land show how agrarian insights and responsibilities can be worked out in diverse fields of learning and living: history, politics, economics, literature, philosophy, urban planning, education, and public policy. Agrarianism is a comprehensive worldview that, unlike other forms of environmentalism that often presuppose an antagonistic or exclusive relation between wilderness and civilization, appreciates the intimate and practical connections that exist between humans and the earth. It stands as our most promising alternative to the unsustainable and destructive ways of current global, consumer culture."
Needless to say, there’s been a lot of ink spilled on the subject of the environment. But this series strikes us as particularly thoughtful.
Other titles in the series include:
Agrarianism and the Good Society: Land, Culture, Conflict, and Hope by Eric T. Freyfogle
From the Farm to the Table: What All Americans Need to Know about Agriculture by Gary Holthaus
The Mother of All Arts: Agrarianism and the Creative Impulse by Gene Logdson
The Soil and Health: A Study of Organic Agriculture by Sir Albert Howard
Wendell Berry: Life and Work Edited by Jason Peters
Learning Native Wisdom By Gary Holthaus
Beyond Biotechnology By Craig Holdrege and Steve Talbott
The Virtues of Ignorance Edited by Bill Vitek and Wes Jackson
Bill was introduced to the book through a Mars Hill Audio interview with one of its authors. You can listen to a portion of that here.
Incidentally, Mars Hill Audio is a great resource to explore or even subscribe to (much like our blog here). The Mars Hill mission: assisting Christians who desire to move from thoughtless consumption of contemporary culture to a vantage point of thoughtful engagement. Their primary resource is a bi-monthly audio journal in which Ken Myers dialogues with a broad variety of guests on cultural topics ranging from baseball to surrealism.