Part III:Farming and the Land
Could they but know their blessedness, for whom
Far from the clash of arms all-equal earth
Pours from the ground herself their easy fare!" Virgil, Georgics
"I have devoted my life to the preaching of platitudes - it is one of the satisfactions of my life. I like the old things - sun and moon, fresh air, bread and butter, work, friendship, avoiding the occasions of sin. Sometimes the devil would say to me, 'Now, Father Vincent, people don't like those sort of things, give them something modern.' My Guardian Angel says, 'It isn't your duty to be modern. You must give something true.'" Fr. Vincent McNabb
The preceding series of post by no means exhausts the evils of capitalism, and I originally intended to post something about contractual vs. role-based justice and the effects of industrialism upon the nuclear family and education. However, my spirit droops at that bleak task and I have decided to leave behind the problems of our present situation and consider the many joys and benefits of farming.
Nota bene - When I speak of farming, I refer to sustainable, organic farming.
First, the farming life is conducive to health. This may be somewhat obvious, but I mention it all the same. It is healthier to do physical labor out in the fresh air and sunshine than to sit under flourescent lights in front of a computer screen in a climate-controlled office. It is better to eat fresh seasonal produce from your own land than to buy processed or preserved food in a store. It is better to go to sleep when the sun goes down and to awaken when it rises. "[Some researchers believe that every minute you sleep before midnight is the equivalent of four minutes of sleep after midnight.] "
Secondly, it is a very "human" activity. Rational creatures reflect the Creator by their power of ordering. As the rational steward of creation, man has a duty to order non-rational created things for the good of creation. For example, a trained horse is both more useful and more noble, for it acts with a reasonableness above its nature. Or again, pruning makes an apple tree both more beautiful and more fruitful.
Thirdly, it is better to work with natural materials. According to the Fathers of the Church, signs of the Creator abound in His Creation. Synthetic materials do not bear the same imprint, thus, the ordering and use of natural materials is more conducive to contemplation. Furthermore, when one uses natural materials one must conform oneself to nature, the order of the Creator. For example, the carpenter must take into account the grain of the wood and the farmer must conform himself to the seasons.
Finally, it is conducive to the life of the family. Saint Bernardino of Siena warned against the spiritual dangers of trade, which separates the husband and wife for lengthy periods of time. Not that everyone must work from their home, but the interest of the home and the interest of the workplace have become so distinct that it is often difficult to preserve an integrity of life. When a man invests a great deal of time and attention in his work, his family is likely to suffer. On a farm, the family shares both the labors and the fruit.
Added 8/29/06 The Deserted Village, by Oliver Goldsmith