Wendell Berry on the Renewal of Christianity

But there are an enormous number of people — and I am one of them — whose native religion, for better or worse, is Christianity. We were born to it; we began to learn about it before we became conscious; it is, whatever we think of it, an intimate belonging of our being; it informs our consciousness, our language, and our dreams. We can turn away from it or against it, but that will only bind us tightly to a reduced version of it. A better possibility is that this, our native religion, should survive and renew itself so that it may become as largely and truly instructive as we need it to be.

Wendell Berry, “Christianity and the Survival of Creation”

This gets at what is often my final argument when it comes to why I remain, stubbornly, in the Christian faith. The reality is that I have experienced something — something-that-I-cannot-name — that gives me some indication that the material is not simply all that there is. Life seems to me to be too mysterious for that. And further, I have never spoken to a single individual who does not have some inclination that there are ultimate goods (and, therefore, ultimate evils). This points to a reality that transcends the material plane in which we experience life.

But I often don’t have an amazing answer for why Christianity and not Buddhism or Islam or some other form of religion. My best and final answer, really, is Berry’s. I was born in it — it’s the story I have been given, and no other story makes sense of the world for me the way Christianity does. I don’t deny that I think it makes more sense of the world than those other religions. But, like I’ve said previously, this is where we hit the “brick wall.” I simply take the world to be a certain way, for a mixture of rational and non-rational reasons. The basic Christian assumptions about the world are how I “take” the world to be before I start reasoning about the world and ethics and knowledge.

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