Friday, September 25, 2015

Joel Salatin Quote on Redemptive Farming

This is admirable quote from Joel and he backs up his words with action on Polyface Farm:
Unfortunately, the Judeo-Christian ethic as articulated in Biblical writings has been wrested by many on the religious right into almost a militaristic, manipulative dominion mandate. With humankind at the pinnacle and virtually free - even encouraged - to change whatever can be changed, this view pay short shrift to the overriding theme of ancient scripture, which is one of loving stewardship, respect toward established creation patterns, and ultimate regeneration and redemption.

That the earth is not perfect is quite apparent. But when God created, He pronounced it all good and placed Adam and Eve in a garden of communion and choice. After the fall - sin - the earth changed. After the flood of Noah, recorded in Genesis chapter 6, it changed even more. What the radical environmentalists don't understand is that in this changed state, every volcano, earthquake, flood, fire, tsunami, has not left the earth in its best condition. While the earth as created is resilient indeed, it is far from being as efficient at soil building and solar conversion into decomposable biomass as it could with some informed human participation.

While it is true that the story of human civilization generally maps a rape and pillage course, desertification and destruction are not inherent in the human-earth relationship. Why have humans been endowed with such a large brain and opposing thumbs? Is it to be the most efficient rapist and pillager of our ecological womb? Or could it just be that a benevolent, though holy, Creator has placed us here to caress, massage, and heal a creation reeling under post-Edenic fallen conditions?

I suggest that building redemption into the earth is our Judeo-Christian mandate. That means we study creation patterns and templates and we adhere to a healing and forgiving model. As farmers, then, we should be hydrating the land rather than depleting aquifers and rivers. We should be enhancing genetics rather than making them more fragile through routine vaccination and pharmaceuticals. We should be capturing and leveraging carbon rather than using it up and throwing it away. We should be building soil rather than destroying it. We should build complex relational symbiosis rather than mono-speciated outside-dependent systems.

Farming should nest gently into the landscape rather than dominating it. We should use less energy rather than more energy and food systems should be net producers of energy rather than net extractors. Our farmscapes should become aesthetically and aromatically sensually romantic places, where kindergarteners love to visit and play. They should welcome people of all ages rather than hide behind "No Trespassing" signs and hazardous materials suits. If the earth is anything, it's a loving partner, not a subdued enemy. Ultimately, the physical creation is a visceral object lesson of divine and spiritual truth. That means we want farms that illustrate forgiveness, beauty, relationships, and vigor.
--- Joel Salatin, from interview by Karen Pendergrass Fri, 18 Oct 2013

Economic, Agrarian and Ecosystem Brainstorms for Post-Empire

It is sometimes said that the family is the building block of society, but what could we imagine is the building block to a healthy economy???  In theory, maybe the family farm unit.  And what better way to decentralize than to establish as many family farms as possible across a landmass?  I can't think of any other fruitful way to fight against monopolization.  And I think governments, corporations, and banks understand this better than anyone.  It is so difficult for a small family farm to make it.  The former understands that if people have land, capital, a regenerative means to support themselves, one cannot control them let alone profit off of them.  A multitude of family farm units balances power.

In an ideal agrarian world, if one decided not to farm (which is perfectly legit) one still has to keep close ties with a family farmer. One has to relate to the farmer.  They would be the ones who feed you and it is only natural that you would want them to thrive and produce healthy food so that you could stay sane and accomplish your work in whatever field you choose.  Or if a group wants to establish a city, that city should take responsibility and establish as well as sustain its own farm in a regenerative manner.    

In an ideal world I think there would be as many family owned farms as possible.  A host of small farmscapes, all carefully planned out over generations with sparkling rustic local life.  A rustic culture.  One that would be rich as in the past, but perhaps taking on new and thrilling directions never imagined.  A rustic culture has great value.  Just think of all the melodies famous classical composer drew from the so called peasants.  But these family farm units would have freedom to operate without regulation or tax.  If they want to pledge to a king for protection or some other purpose, they could, but these trusts would only be temporary, not to mention fair.  Children should not have to be born into political systems that when coming of age they are forced to participate in.  They are their own kings. And there are many. They would have enlightened concepts, decent technology, etc. With modern advances and enlightened ideas like those found in permaculture design and holistic management . . . farming doesn't have to be such drudgery like it may have been in the past.  It is still hard work; takes dedication, patience and brilliance.  But perhaps this is not the sort of slavery one finds in the modern post-industrial workplace.  Furthermore, enlightened techniques could help the planet (as well as humans) heal. 

I also imagine (in this ideal world) that well established farmers, who have nothing to lose and value the health of society would help younger people get started.  I mean one can only have so many plants, timber and animals on a relatively small plot of land. Overdensity induces infertility and isn't good for all involved.  Its good to get animals, a polyculture of plants, not to mention people spread out.  It would make sense in the long run to donate some animals to those who could use them to establish themselves, and also freely exchange ideas, take on the young as farming apprentices, and so on.  It would be imperative that young couples who want to establish a farm be honored and equipped with the necessary skills, some land, a few animals, seeds, tools, and so on. A wise man would see value in this not necessarily for himself but for posterity.  The community would take a vested interest because it is no small secret that civilization is based on farming and maintenance of ecosystems.  I would like to think that a wise society would place inestimable value in Earth, soil, air, water, and food.

And this brings me to my next idea.  Some families could assume the role of ecosystem stewards in a land plot which they are allotted and to keep in the family or bequeath to whoever they see fit. Instead of focusing more on farming these resident stewards could take charge of an acreage in order to ensure that it is functioning optimally in connection with its ecosystem and the entire Earth. Perhaps they would own a few animals for sustenance, or even hunt to help control population, however the community would see the value of their work and donate to them what they need or they be provided with some credit or means of exchange without interest. This way they could buy necessities and live in frugal comfort.  They could even build tree-houses or live in the sides of mountains if they want because there wouldn't be any bureaucracy.  This is sort of in line with the economic Insights of John D. Liu found in his What If We Change Documentaries.  And they would be endowed with the necessary skills and tools to manage an ecosystem.  

Of course greed is out of the picture in this ideal conception.     

A host of viable and vibrant family farm units as well as family ecosystem maintainers balances power in society.  Does this make sense?  I think so.  Natural farm products and Mother Earth itself serves as the fundamental basis of economy with technologies and other services proceeding from these.  Is this more or less reasonable?  Maybe in a wise world.  My purpose is that I'm starting to look beyond the U.S. empire.  The empire will eventually die.  If anyone thinks that we are just going to keep on our merry way cheating Mother Nature and each other, then well perhaps this isn't for you.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

"The less we ask of Caesar . . . "

“The less we ask of Caesar, the less we will have to render to Caesar.”

--- Saint Hilary of Poitiers. A Frenchie saint from 4th century.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Pope St. John XXIII On the Structure of the Farm Unit

In his encyclical, Pope John XXIII understands and promotes the importance of family farms not "mega-farms" or literally hellish factory farms.  If only he could have seen the elegance and success of the small permaculture homesteads, their ethics and other smaller enterprises using wise techniques such as holistic management.

From Mater et Magistra:

The Structure of the Farm Unit

142. It is not possible to determine a priori what the structure of farm life should be, since rural conditions vary so much from place to place and from country to country throughout the world. But if we hold to a human and Christian concept of man and the family, we are bound to consider as an ideal that form of enterprise which is modelled on the basis of a community of persons working together for the advancement of their mutual interests in accordance with the principles of justice and Christian teaching. We are bound above all to consider as an ideal the kind of farm which is owned and managed by the family. Every effort must be made in the prevailing circumstances to give effective encouragement to farming enterprises of this nature.

143. But if the family farm is not to go bankrupt it must make enough money to keep the family in reasonable comfort. To ensure this, farmers must be given up-to-date instruction on the latest methods of cultivation, and the assistance of experts must be put at their disposal. They should also form a flourishing system of cooperative undertakings, and organize themselves professionally to take an effective part in public life, both on the administrative and the political level.
The Self-Advancement of the Farming Community

144. We are convinced that the farming community must take an active part in its own economic advancement, social progress and cultural betterment. Those who live on the land can hardly fail to appreciate the nobility of the work they are called upon to do. They are living in close harmony with Nature—the majestic temple of Creation. Their work has to do with the life of plants and animals, a life that is inexhaustible in its expression, inflexible in its laws, rich in allusions to God the Creator and Provider. They produce food for the support of human life, and the raw materials of industry in ever richer supply.
Vocation and Mission

149. In the work on the farm the human personality finds every incentive for self-expression, self-development and spiritual growth. It is a work, therefore, which should be thought of as a vocation, a God-given mission, an answer to God's call to actuate His providential, saving plan in history. It should be thought of, finally, as a noble task, undertaken with a view to raising oneself and others to a higher degree of civilization.

Quote of the Day On Subsidiary

…it is a fundamental principle of social philosophy, fixed and unchangeable, that one should not withdraw from individuals and commit to the community what they can accomplish by their own enterprise and industry. So, too, it is an injustice and at the same time a grave evil and a disturbance of right order, to transfer to the larger and higher collectivity functions which can be performed and provided for by lesser and subordinate bodies. Inasmuch as every social activity should, by its very nature, prove a help to members of the body social, it should never destroy or absorb them (Pope Pius XI, Quadragesimo Anno, §79).

Practical Distributism: Distributism or Capitalism: Two Ways to Work - Par...

Practical Distributism: Distributism or Capitalism: Two Ways to Work - Par...: by Thomas Storck When human beings engage in economic activity they engage with other people. Even a gardener cultivating his own sma...

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Quote of the Day On the Conundrum of 'Regulatory' Institutions

"Regulatory" institutions provide a bit of a conundrum.

Instead of having competing quality and certification businesses selling their services to producers so they can market their products faster we have one, centralized, monopolistic institution that has little or no competition. Whereas in the former scenario things like bribery or conflicts of interest (a revolving door between top echelon members of certifiers/producers) would instantly destroy the reputation and bankrupt the certifying company, in the latter you've virtually guaranteed rampant bribery, a revolving door, and an institution that is not really concerned about reputation because it has no competition.

In other words, ironically, this attempt to "regulate industry" has actually led to massive de-regulation of industry. Only the market and competition can regulate quality. Instead now you have an institution that empowers large corporations by helping to push through the legislation they want to cripple their competition and by giving them endless special exemptions.

In short, the FDA acts to remove normal market liabilities from major corporations thereby allowing them to do basically whatever they want. As an added bonus you have people trained to blindly believe FDA recommendations so instead of thinking for themselves they have placed their trust in an organization that has no interest in their health or safety and every interest in ignoring it at the behest of those corporations that we were all supposed to be protected from.

That's why I laugh when "democratic socialists" scream about big corporations and call for big government to regulate them. They're clearly thinking in very abstract terms which are completely divorced from practical reality.

---David Robinson

Interview with the lunatic farmer Joel Salatin -- Health & Wellness --

Salatin is not only a genius accomplished farmer, he is one of the greatest living Americans.  See his virtuoso insights in this interview:

Interview with the lunatic farmer Joel Salatin -- Health & Wellness --

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Excellent, Perfect, Virtuous Advice of Pope Francis to Theologians

Taken from his video message to Second International Congress of Theology, September 3rd 2015:

“The anniversary of the Faculty of Theology celebrates the coming to maturity of a particular Church. It celebrates life, history, the faith of the People of God journeying on earth and in search of 'understanding' and 'truth' from their own positions. … It seems to me of great importance to link this event with the 50th anniversary of the Closing of Vatican Council II. There exists no isolated particular Church that can be said to be the owner and sole interpreter of the reality and the work of the Spirit. No community has a monopoly over interpretation or inculturation just as, on the other hand, there is no universal Church that turns away from, ignores or neglects the local situation”.

“And this leads us to assume that it is not the same to be a Christian … in India, in Canada, or in Rome. Therefore, one of the main tasks of the theologian is to discern and to reflect on what it means to be a Christian today, in the 'here and now'. How does that original source manage to irrigate these lands today, and to make itself visible and liveable? … To meet this challenge, we must overcome two possible temptations: first, condemning everything: … assuming 'everything was better in the past', seeking refuge in conservatism or fundamentalism, or conversely, consecrating everything, disavowing everything that does not have a 'new flavour', relativising all the wisdom accumulated in our rich ecclesial heritage. The path to overcoming these temptations lies in reflection, discernment, and taking both the ecclesiastical tradition and current reality very seriously, placing them in dialogue with one another”.

“Not infrequently an opposition between theology and pastoral ministry emerges, as if they were two opposite, separate realities that had nothing to do with each other. We not infrequently identify doctrine with conservatism and antiquity; and on the contrary, we tend to think of pastoral ministry in terms of adaptation, reduction, accommodation. As if they had nothing to do with each other. A false opposition is generated between theology and pastoral ministry, between Christian reflection and Christian life. … The attempt to overcome this divorce between theology and pastoral ministry, between faith and life, was indeed one of the main contributions of Vatican Council II”.

“I cannot overlook the words of John XXIII in the Council's opening discourse, when he said 'The substance of the ancient doctrine of the depositum fidei is one thing; and the way in which it is presented is another'. We must turn again ... to the arduous task of distinguishing the living message from the form of its transmission, from the cultural elements in which it is codified at a given time”.

“Do not allow the exercise of discernment to lead to a betrayal of the content of the message. The lack of this theological exercise detrimental to the mission we are invited to perform. Doctrine is not a closed, private system deprived of dynamics able to raise questions and doubts. On the contrary, Christian doctrine has a face, a body, flesh; He is called Jesus Christ and it is His Life that is offered from generation to generation to all men and in all places”.

The questions our people pose, their anguish, their quarrels, their dreams, their struggles, their concerns all have hermeneutical value we cannot ignore if we are to take seriously the principal of incarnation. … Our formulations of faith were born of dialogue, encounter, comparison and contact with different cultures, communities and nations in situations calling for greater reflection on matters not previously clarified. For Christians, something becomes suspicious when we no longer admit the need for it to be criticized by others. People and their specific conflicts, their peripheries, are not optional, but rather necessary for a better understanding of faith. Therefore it is important to ask whom we are thinking of when we engage in theology. Let us not forget that the Holy Spirit in a praying people is the subject of theology. A theology that is not born of this would offer something beautiful but not real”.

“In this regard, I would like to explain three features of the identity of the theologian:

1. The theologian is primarily a son of his people. He cannot and does not wish to ignore them. He knows his people, their language, their roots, their histories, their tradition. He is a man who learns to appreciate what he has received as a sign of God's presence because he knows that faith does not belong to him. This leads him to recognize that the Christian people among whom he was born have a theological sense that he cannot ignore.

2. The theologian is a believer. The theologian is someone who has experience of Jesus Christ and has discovered he cannot live without Him. ... The theologian knows that he cannot live without the object / subject of his love, and devotes his life to sharing this with his brothers.

3. The theologian is a prophet. One of the greatest challenges in today's world is not merely the ease with which it is possible to dispense with God; socially it has taken a step further. The current crisis pivots on the inability of people to believe in anything beyond themselves. ... This creates a rift in personal and social identities. This new situation gives rise to a process of alienation, owing to a lack of past and therefore of future. The theologian is thus a prophet, as he keeps alive an awareness of the past and the invitation that comes from the future. He is a able to denounce any alienating form as he intuits, reflecting on the river of Tradition he has received from the Church, the hope to which we are called”.

“Therefore, there is only one way of practicing theology: on one's knees. It is not merely the pious act of prayer before then thinking of theology. It is a dynamic reality of thought and prayer. Practicing theology on one's knees means encouraging thought when praying and prayer when thinking”.