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Of the Land and the Spirit
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Of the Land and the Spirit: The Essential Lord Northbourne on Ecology and Religion
Of the Land and the Spirit: The Essential Lord Northbourne on Ecology and Religion
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Comparative Religion
Environment and Nature

Price:  $19.95

ISBN:  978-1-933316-61-1
Book Size:  6 x 9
# of Pages:  256
Language:  English

Twenty-five years before Rachel Carson published her famous work Silent Spring, Lord Northbourne coined the phrase “organic farming” and helped to promote the importance of a holistic approach to the environment. His work, linking spirituality and ecology, has inspired a generation of writings from Wendell Berry to HRH Prince Charles.

This book not only features Northbourne’s previously unpublished writings, but also his private correspondence with Thomas Merton, highlighting the spiritual depth of his writings.
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Detailed Description of Of the Land and the Spirit

Lord Northbourne (1896-1982) was a Renaissance man: a farmer, painter, Olympic rower, translator, and a widely respected author on both ecology and religion. His first book coined the term “organic farming”, and he worked with E. F. Schumacher to bring greater awareness to ecological concerns. His subsequent writings include his concern for ecology along with an exploration of the nature of religion in the modern world.

The present anthology is intended to illustrate the uncommon breadth and depth that characterize Lord Northbourne’s writings. It includes selections from the fascinating correspondence between Lord Northbourne and Thomas Merton.

About the Author(s)

Lord Northbourne

Lord Northbourne, the 4th Baron Northbourne, was an agriculturist, educator, translator, and writer on both agriculture and comparative religion. He was educated at Oxford and was for many years Provost of Wye College in England. His first published writings were on "organic" farming (he introduced the term), and he later began to write on Traditionalist/Perennialist themes. A number of Lord Northbourne's essays appeared in the British journal, Studies in Comparative Religion, and were later included in his books Religion in the Modern World (1963) and Looking Back on Progress (1970).

Lord Northbourne's essential writings are collected in Of the Land and the Spirit. His other contributions to World Wisdom's books include:


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Joseph A. Fitzgerald

Joseph Fitzgerald has authored or edited several books on diverse world religions and philosophy that have won more than ten awards, including the prestigious Benjamin Franklin Award. The subjects include Buddhism, Hinduism, the American Indians, Christianity, the ecological crisis and the Perennial Philosophy. Fitzgerald studied Comparative Religion at Indiana University, where he also earned a Doctor of Jurisprudence degree. He is an adopted grandson of Thomas Yellowtail, one of the most honored American Indian spiritual leaders of the last century. For more than thirty years, Joseph has traveled extensively throughout the American Indian, Oriental and Islamic worlds. He has edited the following books for World Wisdom:


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Wendell Berry

Wendell Berry is a conservationist, farmer, essayist, novelist, professor of English, and poet. The New York Times has called Berry the "prophet of rural America." Berry is the author of more than 30 books of essays, poetry and novels. He has worked a farm in Henry County, Kentucky since 1965. He has received numerous awards for his work, including an award from the National Institute and Academy of Arts and letters in 1971, and most recently, the T. S. Eliot Award.

World Wisdom has included essays by Wendell Berry in the following publications:

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Christopher James

Christopher James, the 5th Lord Northbourne, is the son of the late Walter James, the 4th Lord Northbourne. The current Lord Northbourne is a British farmer and businessman. He was educated at Eton College in Berkshire and Magdalen College, Oxford, where he graduated with a Master of Arts in 1959.

Lord Northbourne is the co-editor (with Joseph A. Fitzgerald) of a book of his father's work, Of The Land And The Spirit: The Essential Writings of Lord Northbourne on Ecology and Religion.

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Reviews of Of the Land and the Spirit

“Northbourne … introduced many ideas that pepper current discussions of organic and bio-dynamic farming, including farmers’ markets, the relationship between food and health, the precautionary principle, the principle of care, the interconnectedness and interdependence of all living things, and warning against mining the fertility of the soil. If we are to attribute the title of father of Organic Agriculture, the title must be given to Walter Northbourne.”
Elementals: The Journal of Bio-Dynamics

“Lord Northbourne expresses convincingly enough his horror of the social system that seems to be growing up. The frenzy of destruction by which the nations are now overtaken must be succeeded by some new world, and a society that accepts the consequences of science but uses science to control them…. But any society will crash in its turn unless it embodies those qualities of simplicity and honesty which Lord Northbourne finds in life upon the land.”
The Times Literary Supplement

“Lord Northbourne was the philosopher of the organic movement's early years. He believed that care for the earth is a spiritual discipline and that our world's bounty and beauty are best preserved through fidelity to religious tradition. This selection of his writings amply demonstrates the artistic sensitivity and lucid rejection of secularism which were the hallmarks of his thought. It provides a most welcome opportunity for a new generation to discover the ideas of an uncompromising cultural prophet.”
Philip Conford, author of The Origins of the Organic Movement

"…Northbourne deals with the profoundest issues so clearly and concisely, this might be the first book to place in the hands of those wanting to understand why 'tradition' is so important. Not only does the author have an exemplary style, but he constantly tests his own arguments against common sense and experience. Time and again the reader is felt to be put in his 'right mind', in dealing with questions that currently perplex our society."
Temenos Review

Of the Land and the Spirit contains substantial extracts from all three [of Lord Northbourne’s] books, as well as previously unpublished material on Christian symbolism and a moving ‘bequest’ or testamentwritten two years before his death. In it, he reminds his descendents that they cannot fulfil their human duty asmediators between Heaven and Earth if they ‘pillage and pollute Nature’. There is also some interesting correspondence with the monk Thomas Merton, who shared Northbourne’s concern about the destructive impact of technology on the natural environment.…For the rural historian, this anthology offers the opportunity to study the ideas of a remarkable landowner and key figure in the story of the organic movement. Given the intimate, centuries long relationship between religion and agriculture, and, also, given the fact that some of the most aggressive recent attacks on the organic movement have come from prominent secularists such as Lord Taverne, it is fascinating to read a contemporary reinterpretation of this relationship from first principles. Northbourne was a man of strong aesthetic sensibility, as his essay on the beauty of flowers demonstrates; but this characteristic did not prevent him from developing his arguments with an entirely unsentimental force of reason. Christopher James, the collection’s co-editor, is the present Lord Northbourne, and contributes an introduction which adds personal depth to our knowledge of his father. The American farmer-writer Wendell Berry, in his foreword, is admiring although not uncritical. For Berry, the continuing value of Northbourne’s work is to be found in his recognition that beneath Western society’s approach to agriculture lies its neglect or denial of life’s spiritual dimension.”
—From a review in the journal Rural History

“We are extraordinarily fortunate to have this recent publication available and I cannot recommend it highly enough. This anthology belongs in the library of every 'seeker', as it presents an integral orientation that embraces the fullness of the human potential and what it accurately means to be human, which is inseparable from what is transpersonal or divine..”
—From a review by Samuel Bendeck Sotillos in the journal Resurgence

Table of Contents for Of the Land and the Spirit

  1. Soil and Growth
  2. Health and Food
  3. Farms and Farmers
  4. Look to the Land: Sustainability
  5. Agriculture and Human Destiny
  6. Compassion in World Farming*
  7. Religion and Tradition
  8. Looking Back on Progress
  9. Decadence and Idolatry
  10. Intellectual Freedom*
  11. Change in the Churches*
  12. “With God All Things Are Possible”
  13. What Am I?
  14. On Truth, Goodness, and Beauty*
  15. Art Ancient and Modern
  16. The Beauty of Flowers
  17. A Cross Awry*
  18. A Reflection on Christmas*
  19. Old Age
  20. The Problem of Pain*
  21. The Ineluctable Alternative:
A Letter to My Descendants*
Correspondence with Thomas Merton
* Indicates material previously unpublished in book form.

Selection from our Library about Of the Land and the Spirit
 TitleSourceAuthor 1Author 2Subject WW HTMLWW PDFExternal Link
Lord Northbourne discusses extensively the various symbolic meanings of the cross, explaining how it simultaneously represents several aspects of Christian doctrine and philosophia perennis. Each of these corresponds to a unique perspective from which the symbol can be approached. Northbourne also expounds upon the necessity to present the cross under certain conditions if its symbolic intergrity is to be maintained and observes how these conditions have sometimes been forsaken in the name of aesthetic value.
A Cross AwryStudies in Comparative Religion, Vol. 8, No. 2. (Spring, 1974); also in the book "Of the Land and the Spirit"Northbourne, Lord Christianity, Symbolism
Foreword to Of the Land and the SpiritOf the Land and the Spirit: The Essential Lord Northbourne on Ecology & ReligionBerry, Wendell Modernism
Agriculture and Human DestinyOf the Land and the Spirit: The Essential Lord Northbourne on Ecology & ReligionNorthbourne, Lord Modernism
Introduction to Of the Land and the SpiritOf the Land and the Spirit: The Essential Lord Northbourne on Ecology & ReligionJames, Christopher  Biography
 4 entries (Displaying results 1 - 4) View : Jump to: Page: of 1 pages

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