Ha Jolly Ha

Monday, August 28, 2006

Part III:Farming and the Land

"Oh! all too happy tillers of the soil,
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


Anonymous rjp said...

Where did you find the quote from Fr. McNabb?

9:17 AM  
Blogger Raindear said...

I am ashamed to admit, I googled him and found that quote on Wikipedia. (:

When I wrote the post, I didn't have any texts on hand. Being familiar with Fr. McNabb from reading Flee to the Fields and part of The Church and the Land, I figured it would be easy to find a punchy quote from him.

9:52 AM  
Anonymous Brian said...

Hello Rainbear,

I recently discovered your weblog via the Catholic Restorationist pages, and have very much enjoyed reading your thoughts on economics.

I must especially commend you for turning to a more positive and joyful presentation of your thoughts upon recognizing how unsavory and soul-crushing the cataloguing evils can be. Although a good walk in the woods tends to arouse my disgust for the excesses of industry, it also provides the wonderful benefit of sating the very want it exposes within me ;o)

And also, thank you for the link to "The Deserted Village". Wow! I've not read an apopolgy of such beauty and granduer since I first encountered Tolkien's "Mythopoeia". Though I am often quite moved by logic, it is such a joy to when the poet slips in the back door, and conquers my heart in ways the rhetorician can never conceive.

Many Blessings,


2:40 PM  
Blogger Raindear said...

Hi Brian,

Thank you for your compliments and well-wishing.

At times, it is necessary and helpful to consider the problems in our modern social and economic arrangements, but a look at the positive alternative is perhaps more informative, and certainly more inspiring. (: I recently discovered the great pleasure of observing pigs wander through a green field. They look entirely different outside the confines of a muddy and crowded pen! When there are no obliging woods or hogs handy, one can always find comfort in Belloc's essay, "The Mowing of a Field."

Yes, that poem is lovely! Thanks for reminding me. I read it long ago, and the experience deserves repeating.

Pax Christi,

4:25 PM  
Anonymous Brian said...

Hi Rainbear,

Pigs! You're right, a verdant pasture can certainly do wonders for an oft overlooked animal. Sort of the opposite of what we see as two Hobbits, slogging their way through the Dead Marshes, seem almost completely robbed of the innocent charms of the Shire.

I have fond memories of pigs. One summer I worked at a place called Harvest Farm, which is a rural division of the Denver Rescue Mission. In short, it provides a rural, agricultural, and Christian environment for men whose ruined and addictive lives have only ever known the confines of a city. It is wonderful place of healing and restoration, and one of the primary ways that God accomplishes this work is through animal husbandry. The majority of the animals and the produce go to support the poor, and it is truly amazing to see men who have for so long lived in the self-indulgent grip of addiction finally begin to live their lives for the sake of others. I can remember one man, Rick--a hardened addict--reduced to weeping as he helped deliver a litter if piglets. He had cared for the mother throughout her pregnancy, and then stayed up all night with her during labor. In the morning, when the piglets arrived, he had such joy in his eyes, and he said to me through tears: "I think this is the first thing I've ever done that really matters."

Pigs, yeah, God love 'em. They taught Rick that he could love himself and his neighbor, and because of that he began to love God too.

1:10 AM  
Anonymous Brian said...

Sorry! You're a rain*dear*, not a rain*bear* ;o)

4:22 PM  

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