Randall Gerard writes back...

Location: Out West

An old-fashioned guy grappling with new-fangled ways.

Monday, February 27, 2006

There's Strength in Numbers...

I was perusing my well-worn copy of Gene Logsdon's 'The Contrary Farmer', and came across a great suggestion for wannabe agrarians with no land, like your's truly. I don't know how I missed it before, but here it is. He suggests that like-minded families or individuals should get together, buy a farm or ranch, and divide it between them. This approach has several advantages, the most obvious being a lower price per acre for all concerned. A second advantage would be knowing in advance who your neighbors are going to be; indeed you would be choosing your neighbors before you ever shop for land!

I am intrigued by the possibilities. I know I'm not the only land-less agrarian out there of modest means. I also know through the pleasant discovery of many fine agrarian blogs, that there are many who generally share my christian agrarian values and vision. While there are sure to be differences with regard to the details, surely all of us want good land at a good price, and good neighbors nearby.

So... towards that end, let's talk. Here are a few things I would like to accomplish and also some of my own druthers, prejudices and oughts. Please feel free to express your own. I have an open mind; yet I hope not so open that my brains are in danger of falling out my ears.

1. I want to accomplish this without any debt. I am planning to sell everything, join up with others in some kind of legal, enforcable covenant, and buy land out-right. I'm not interested in making payments.
2. I am a reformed christian, and would prefer to do this with other reformed christians. However, I do realize there are sincere, genuine christians in other communions that are not reformed. The label 'reformed christian' expresses my own convictions; it doesn't necessarily describe my boundaries of fellowship.

3. This is a big, beautiful country and I'm open to going anywhere; but I do have preferences I will apply to any location proposed. In general, I want reasonably fertile land, regular rain-fall and a fairly even mix of woodland, pasture and cropland. A four-season climate. Proximity to a town or small city might be an advantage, both as a potential market, for a variety of established churches and as a source of employment, should that be necessary. I don't like excessive regulation and bean counters and revenooers, public or private, give me a rash. I will be assessing the political climate accordingly. As an example, I own and use guns. I homeschool. I want to drink milk straight from the udder and butcher my own meat without interference. I don't want to pay a fortune in property, sales or income taxes. You get the idea.

4. I'm in no particular hurry. I've done this before by myself, and I've made enough mistakes by rush, rush, rushing at it to fill a book. I no longer want to go it alone; I want community AND land. If you've been there and done that as well, maybe we should talk. I would like to meet like-minded folks, have land agreed upon, purchased, and divided up by 2010. I think anything worth doing, is worth doing right. I have no idea what I'm getting into as far as legal entanglements go, so any advise from christian attorneys, CPA's, wise Pastors, would be appreciated. In a multitude of counselors, there is safety.

5. I personally would like a small grazing operation, with a variety of stock. But I also like to hunt, fish and home-brew a bit. A big garden space is a must and an orchard would be nice. I'm not so much geared towards growing for sale; mostly I want to grow enough for us and sell or trade some excess in the good years.
6. Oh, I almost forgot. I don't want to own anything jointly or in common, and I won't subsidize anyone or take subsidys myself. I want each family to have their own place in proportion to what they can afford. 'From each according to his ability, to each according to his need' is not a christian concept. 'Thou shalt not covet' and 'Thou shalt not steal' are. If a hypothetical group of people pitches in together and each contributes varying amounts, and you think the property they buy should be divided equally, don't contact me. We wouldn't get along. If, on the other hand, you believe a man shouldn't eat if he doesn't work and everyone should reap in proportion to what they sow, let me hear from you.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

A great Rushdoony quote...

R. J. Rushdoony wrote the "Institutes of Biblical Law" back in the late 70's, and it was and is a monumental achievement. He did a fine job explaining the enduring relevance of God's law and how it should be understood and applied today. I highly recommend it. Yesterday, as I was reading Rush's exposition of the 7th Commandment, the following quote leapt off the page, and I just had to share it. I think you'll understand why after you read it.
"The Biblical view of property will be discussed later, but, for the present, the case of Naboth can be cited (1 Kings 21:1-14). For Naboth, the land was not his to sell. Everything he had, land and vineyard, was an inheritance from the past as a trust for the future. Naboth as a good steward had no doubt increased the value of that inheritance, but this did not make any of it his own. As head of the family, he had an inheritance as a trust, not as a means of self-indulgence, and therefore his basic obligation was to the future. In China, by means of ancestor worship, the trustee family was bound to the past. In Biblical faith, because of the creation mandate, the trustee family was geared to the future. The modern family, because of its atomistic humanism, is geared to the present and is thus destructive of both the past and the future."
- the Institutes of Biblical Law, pgs. 418 - 419
This gem occurs in Rush's discussion of the family as a trustee of the creation under God. Please note the pronounced anti-capitalist AND anti-socialist sentiment implied by this understanding. Naboth didn't plunder his heritage for his own pleasure, as many CEO's do today. Neither did he regard his trust as something not to be used and improved, or as something held and preserved for 'society'. His society was his children and his children's children. Biblical law, which supports an agrarian understanding of family, property, God and creation, strikes the perfect balance between preservation and conservation, between the needs of the present and the need to improve property for the future.
As Rush correctly points out, the family today is a collection of soveriegn individuals living under one roof, but pursuing their own separate interests. This is perhaps the inevitable consequence of the family being rootless; of family being disconnected from real property. When God made man, he placed him in a garden and told him to dress and keep it. Adam was responsible under God for property even before he recieved his wife as a helpmeet. The lesson here ought to be obvious. We are as much created for property, as property was created for us. The land languishes and is plundered when there are no men and women to steward it as God intended. And we are diminished and lose some of ourselves when we have no land to keep and dress and pass down to our children.
And this is why only agrarianism will produce long-term health for familys, the land and ultimately our nation. Capitalism views land and people as 'resources' to be mined and consumed for the benefit of the haves. Socialism views land and people as a trust, but not under God's covenant and not to benefit the family but a soveriegn centralized authority. Agrarianism gives authority over property to familys who hold it and keep it under God.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Some musings on 'Brokeback Mountain'...

The movie 'Brokeback Mountain' is causing quite a stir here in the inter-mountain west. The local paper has been publishing salvos from both sides, many of which shed a lot more heat than light on the issue. I've decided to enter the fray and have submitted the following to the Editor. I'll let you know if they have the guts to publish it. Anyway, here's my take...

To the Editor.

Erin from Los Angeles writes to remind us that gay cowboys exist in Wyoming. Of this, I have no doubt. But I have considerable doubt that straight movie producers exist in L.A.

How else do we explain the dominance of the homosexual community within the entertainment industry? We are inundated with pro-homo propaganda. Every T.V. show, it seems, has it's token queer. Invariably, they are the smartest, funniest, most charming, most normal-looking characters on the show. Generally speaking, this is a lie. Anyone who has ever witnessed a gay-pride parade in a major city knows better. You will never see a more twisted, confused, tragi-comic spectacle as that. But what do we expect from people who identify themselves according to their sexual proclivities and strive to rub our noses in their perversion? Most people confine sex to their private lives; yet homos delight in leaping out of the closet and making their private acts public. And then they have the gall to wonder what we're all so upset about.

But, as much as I hate to admit it, some of the 'Brokeback Mountain' apologists have a point. After all, hollywood has been selling sex for decades; with nary a peep from the hetero community. The same straight cowboys who are outraged by two men tongue-wrestling in Wyoming probably have girlie magazines stashed in their pick-up trucks. 'Our' porn is A-O.K., but their's is not? Hollywood never fails to depict traditional married sex as dull and/or dysfunctional, and where is all the hetero outrage when they do? Sexually explicit movies featuring hetero couples are routinely celebrated as works of art despite their adulterous and perverted themes. But, NOW by heaven, we're drawing a moral line with 'Brokeback Mountain'? There's a very special word for those who think this way, and it's not used enough in public discourse. Hypocrite.

The wide-spread tolerance of heterosexual sin has produced the present social climate and our double standards are now catching up with us. Indeed, we are now so desensitized to every form of heterosexual sin, that it barely registers on our skewed morality scale when homosexual porn is marketed as a 'love story'. Does anyone want to imagine what comes after a general desensitization to homosexual porn? Does anyone wish to live in a society that permits animals and children to be used as sex toys? Just checking; because that's where we're headed. And that's also why homosexual sin should never be celebrated and promoted. But even as we stand against the normalization of homosexuality, we ought to remove the log from our own eye. The filthy preferences of others will never justify our own.