Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Wendell Berry's JAYBER CROW

John, in his wonderful down-home Kentucky accent, just finished reading Jayber Crow this morning. I had read it years ago, but it's well worth reading a second time. Here is a quote (p. 321) that's worth pondering. Jaber, after more than thirty years, has been pushed out of his barber shop by government inspectors and has moved to a little shack on the river:

I kept on as janitor of the church, which is scheduled work. I still walk up on Fridays to clean, as I have always done, and 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. I am not sectarian or evangelical. I don't want to argue with anybody about religion. I wouldn't want to argue about it even if I thought it was arguable, or even if I could win. I'm a literal reader of the Scriptures, and so I see the difficulties. And yet every Sunday morning I walk up there, over a cobble of quibbles. I am, I suppose, a difficult man. I am, maybe, the ultimate Protestant, the man at the end of the Protestant road, for as I have read the Gospels over the years, the belief has grown in me that Christ did not come to found an organized religion but came instead to found an unorganized one. He seems to have come to carry religion out of the temples into the fields and sheep pastures, onto the roadsides and the banks of rivers, into the houses of sinners and publicans, into the town and the wilderness, toward the membership of all that is here. Well, you can read and see what you think.