Dr. Michael Stevens believes Wendell Berry is a crucial voice for the world today, and more particularly, for Christians. His book, written with co-author Dr. Matthwe Bonzo, “Wendell Berry and the Cultivation of Life” evaluates Wendell Berry’s writings theologically, addressing themes congruent with contemporary theological concerns while acknowledging ways Berry’s vision can be adopted and lived. It’s no secret that Bonzo and Stevens find Berry to be a profound writer who provides the church with a new vision of life. While Berry’s writing is unlike traditional theological writing, the authors affirm Hauerwas’ statement at the end of the Gifford Lectures in “The Necessity of Witness” when he “offers John Paul II, John Howard Yoder, and Wendell Berry as crucial voices exhorting the church to a properly countercultural vision of life.” Though Berry seems like a “surprising inclusion” in this list, Bonzo and Stevens argue it is because Berry “represents the fullest embodiment of telling ‘the Story’ through stories…Berry’s work is precisely the sort of ‘renarration’ that can bring healing and make visible the call to ‘practice resurrection’” (35).
Michael Stevens (Ph.D. in Literature, Institute of Philosophic Studies, University of Dallas) is an English professor at Cornerstone University in Grand Rapids, Michigan, where he has taught since 1997. His original graduate work on T.S. Eliot’s socio-political ideas led him on a circuitous route to the fiction, poetry, and essays of the Kentucky farmer Wendell Berry, about whom he and colleague Matt Bonzo wrote Wendell Berry and the Cultivation of Life for Brazos Press in 2008. He has also published articles and chapters on Berry’s critique of higher education, his pacifism, and his fictional universe. A native of Harford, in rural Cortland County, New York, Stevens attended high school in Dryden and often visited his grandparents on Ellis Hollow Road in Ithaca. After college, he even worked a brief but eventful stint at Cornell University Catering! He and his wife Linda (a native of Long Island) have raised their three kids in Michigan, amidst maple trees and apple orchards that betoken the strong link to New York State of Michigan’s early settlers (yes, there is an Ithaca, Michigan, and a Dryden, etc.). Ethan (20), Julia (17), and Gabe (15) are still waiting for Dad to take them to the Moosewood Restaurant on one of these Grandma visits.