Twitter Delicious Facebook Digg Stumbleupon Favorites

Monday, October 15, 2007

Roots in rich soil

I recently finished reading 'The Rural Solution; Modern Catholic Voices on Going "Back to the Land"' . It's a quick read at only 102 pages, but the seven essays each provide compelling arguments for a return to our agricultural roots. There are no dates provided, however the references to the forties date some of the "modern" voices. Despite this, it would be a great book to hand to someone to give them a basic idea of what the Catholic Land movement and distributism is about.
That said, I have one complaint, and it's not directed only at some of the writers of these articles; and that's the supposed need for fathers/husbands to have a job away from the home, "in the city or town" to make homesteading possible. This opinion seem especially appalling when you read in the same essays the horrible temptations of the city and the working world. We homeschool our kids to protect them, we keep off our TVs and read balanced media, we socialize with like minded Catholics, but we send our husbands and father's into the lion's den 'out of necessity' and expect them to be immune to the world? At what point did sending men away from their families become the only way to make a living? If you are reliant on a paycheck to buy all your needs and refuse to furnish any yourself from your land, then a 'city job' is the only option. If you're homesteading, sending the head of the family away for 8 to 10 hours a day hardly seems the smart thing to do unless you love working every possible hour. How can a man slave 40+ hours for a company and work the land to the level needed to sustain a large family? When does such a man get the chance to be a model for his children and a partner for his wife? He can't unless he wants to kill himself. Especially when you consider the average commute nowadays and the cost of gas. To find sizable, affordable land within a reasonable drive to a metropolitan area is almost impossible; it's been our goal for the last two years. The homestead IS the full time job. Worst case, the husband needs to find a part time job away from home but ideally, money to buy anything you can't raise or grow comes from something you sell (extra produce, eggs, honey, etc.) or a service (website design, graphic design, writing etc.) from your homestead. Modern society has come to accept the absence of the father from the home, and to an extent even the mother, but should Catholic agrarians accept this? Keeping the man at home with the family should be as much a goal as keeping mom home with the kids. The Internet makes home based businesses more possible than ever before. Or remember when families had the storefront and an apartment behind the counter or upstairs? These businesses will prosper, and the families behind them, when other like minded families spend their money inside. Such families would be the backbone of a successful Catholic community. The Amish excel at this model and their communities thrive, while Catholic communities are few and far between (and struggling at that.) What can we learn? So as we (and maybe you?) plan our move 'back to the land' consider the costs of keeping Dad at home.
"Now it might be argued-tendentiously-that the return to the land is something vouchsafed to a particular kind of Catholic; that it is a legitimate vocation, if a minority one. But is that really so? Granted that, in a period of immense societal decadence, it will be missionaries"possessed" by a vision, by a vocation, who will lead the return to the land and to sanity, it remains nonetheless the case that the call is made to the majority of Catholics- not to the mere enthusiastic few. Why? Because life on the Land gives the Faith roots in rich soil, whilst life in the City for the Faith is sterile an ultimately destructive of the Catholic Church."
Intro to 'The Rural Solution', pg 11


say what? said...

I picked up a copy of “The Rural Solution” with high hopes of learning something useful from it. I’ve been talking to and occasionally working with pagans in various stages of going back to the land. Some of them have succeeded and could easily go on with their lives if what they call “Babylon” (Western Civilization) crumbled to dust. I understand some of their reasons and arguments for leaving the towns and cities for the country. A chance discovery that some Catholics were moving in the same direction seemed a moment of awakening for me. I’ve been outside the Church for better than 30 years and thought there might, at last, be some common ground to work from.

Sadly I found otherwise. The introduction in the book has me nearly convinced that the sooner the last Catholic has gone onto to its reward the sooner the rest of us can get on with salvaging the Human Condition.
I write “nearly convinced” because I realize the book is only a handful of thinkers and not the bulk of the Catholic community.

I hope the book has better ideas following such a horrid intro, but I’m not holding my breath. I am hoping to read more positive ideas here. If you don’t mind my hanging about and chewing on your thoughts occasionally?