Innocent Lies? No Such Thing.

Friday is for Heart Songs

The following paragraph is from Kairos Journal and I thought it was worth passing on.

“These Lies Are Not Innocent”—Wendell Berry (1934 – )

Farmer-philosopher Wendell Berry recommends a back-to-basics lifestyle, wherein people are content with simple, but essential, endeavors. He draws inspiration from British thinker C. P. Snow, who, in a distinguished lecture at Cambridge University in 1959,1 bemoaned the fact that fewer and fewer people were satisfied with “a humble job.” Consequently, “Postal services, railway services, [were] likely slowly to deteriorate . . .” Picking up on this concern in Life is a Miracle, Berry connects the problem with an educational system which puts unrealistic and unholy demands on the students. Lost is the dignity and delight in addressing God-given and servant-minded tasks at hand.

Young people are being told, “You can be anything you want to be.” Every student is given to understand that he or she is being prepared for “leadership.” All of this is a lie. Original discovery is noteverything. You don’t, for instance, have to be an original discoverer in order to be a good science teacher. A high professional salary is not everything. You can’t be everything you want to be; nobody can. Everybody can’t be a leader; not everybody even wants to be. And these lies are not innocent. They lead to disappointment. They lead good young people to think that if they have an ordinary job, if they work with their hands, if they are farmers or housewives or mechanics or carpenters, they are no good.2

1  His Rede Lecture was entitled “The Two Cultures.”
2 Wendell Berry, Life is a Miracle (New York: Counterpoint, 2000), 58.

Want your children to be faithful to God. Desire for them to find out what it is that God wants them to do and to do that with all the passion of their heart. But be careful about denigrating humble tasks done well. Encourage them to do all for the glory of God, even such mundane things as eating and drinking, but don’t equate living for the glory of God with personal glory among men.

3 thoughts on “Innocent Lies? No Such Thing.

  1. Great post with a lot of wisdom. It represents biblical principled reasoning versus the lies of the world or of the Father of Lies, who wants us to feel like failures and despair. Even the smallest task done with great love glorifies and is pleasing to God. Of course, if God gives someone the gift to lead, they should lead. Or if they have the gift to create great wealth, they should create great wealth and use it also for the glory of God.

    Our pleasure seeking/success at all costs culture has mortgaged its future and seems to be getting ready to pay for our many sins over the years. Time to repent and seek the Lord above all else.


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