A good thought – but

May 14, 2010 § Leave a comment

You knew there was a “but” right?

Every now and then I pop into mmlist.com which has some good insights into simplicity.   Most of what he says I agree with in principle, but….  a couple weeks ago  there was the article, society, reimagined,  Leo treats us to his imagining of a better society but I also felt there was something very much missing in his look at society.

If there is one thing modern, urban simplicity advocates forget it is the invisible screen against which their lives are projected.  What do I mean by that?  Well, quite simply there is a whole mesh and network of things, services, stuff, that is a scratch and a peck under the surface that we never see, we never know about but it is there and without it all our systems would crumble and most people would find that crumbling utterly unbearable.  Which I realize is probably clear as mud so I will pick on poor Leo and pull out his ideas and use them as examples.

Junking the car: It sounds like a good idea, getting rid of our cars –  working closer to home or even working at home with mass transit available for those times when one must travel.  To urbanites it is an awesome idea.  Not such a great plan if you are rural and the nearest mass transit is 50 miles away.

I don’t hear a lot of simplicity advocates wanting to get rid of mass transportation, emergency vehicles or freight.   These are part of the screen.  We like the fact that our homes are not right up against the clothing factory or the manufacturing site, but as long as we want mass transportation and freight someone, somewhere has to be building buses and trains,  these are built out of parts that must be manufactured, from materials which must be manufactured from raw materials that have to be harvested and shipped.  Then to run the bus or train you have to have fuel (some sort of energy), it has to be maintained, the roads or tracks it runs on have to be maintained.   All this requires energy, people and raw materials.

While the simplicity advocate might really want to have their nice little community free from cars in the street where are these mass transportation workers going to live?  Is the miner going to raise his children within walking distance of the mine?  What about the ore smelter, the steel worker or the parts manufacturer?   We do not have (nor can I imagine we will develop) technology that will make aluminum parts manufacturing for mass transit vehicles a clean process – certainly not one I would want to raise my children in the shadow of – which, considering my husband works for a company that makes freight vehicles, buses and emergency vehicles, is a real possibility if we are going to localize industry.   If we are going to advocate a change in how we  loco-mote we need to consider the holistic costs of what we are thinking of.  Do we create a better community for ourselves and our children while leaving those families who enable this lifestyle living in the shadows of factories and manufacturing plants or do we sacrifice transportation as we know it.  How much would we be willing to sacrifice in order to improve our communities?  Would we give up mass transportation, freight or emergency response vehicles?  And if not willing to do so are we asking others to live in a way we would not choose to in order that we may live as we want?

Locally Grown Food: I like this idea, but the idea that we are going to grow enough food in back-yard and community gardens to sustain families is — well, naive.   Farms, family farms, those sized large enough to produce enough food for the family living on them can only be so small.  Just think of how much land you need to devote to growing food in order to supply yourself and your children (and your parents) with enough food to survive the year.    I suspect my family could do in it our area (the insanely rich and fertile Willamette Vally) on right around 20 acres.  This would produce enough for us and enough to trade.  If we are just looking at sustaining ourselves 10 might be possible and that is with modern preservation techniques.   If we lived in a community were we could trade skills for grain-crops closer to 5 might work.  A back yard garden or a community garden plot is not going to supply my family’s needs.  That is reality.  I would love to  think that I could possibly manage to do it on a 1/4 acre or something, but that would be delusional.  There is an interesting discussion here with more thoughts.

Now organizing communities around farming, going back the the village model is something that rings right in my soul.  If we were mostly farmers with some tradesmen here and there we could return to a system of locally grown food as the center of most family’s diets.   But we would have to sacrifice a lot of modern life.   This would require a rural agrarian life style for almost everyone. Which is going to mean smaller communities overall. Then you loose some things.  You are not going to have a universally “wired” world and a universally agrarian world.   The energy and manufacturing needs of a digital society are so enormous that the two are in reality incompatible.  Building buses and trains is nothing compared to building computers, digital networks and modern communication infrastructure.   Who will be feeding these factory workers making the microprocessors, network cable and video screens?  Again do they have to farm and work in a factory?  The amount of time to plant, harvest, preserve, store, prepare and serve homegrown food is astronomical.   Not equal to the amount of time most of us work at our livings today, but it is an everyday of the year gig.

And mmlist actually does go into the idea that the ideal simple world would be a world that was highly digital.  Look at the manufacturing footprint of your basic laptop, it dwarfs the bus or firetruck, then  look at the foot print required for a digital infrastructure.  Are we ever going to be able to provide that style of living for everyone?   How this is supposed to happen I can’t even imagine.   Sure I agree that this sort of vision could be real in some places, maybe the college towns mmlist suggests, I am sure Eugene would be game for it, at least in parts, but I think that vision of simplicity only works as long as it is a subculture within a highly developed, factory manufactured, consumer base world.   Sort of a new aristocracy, as long as there are enough serfs to plow the field the royalty can live resplendently, just don’t peek too closely at the lives of the serfs.

What is missing in the vision?  Humanity.  How do we provide a quality, dignified existence to all God’s children?  It is not enough for us to envision a life that benefits us while harming others, it is not enough to free ourselves and our children while leaving the rest of the world in the mud.  Sure we can do just that, but is that in any way better than shopping at Walmart and buying cheep, plastic, crap from China?   We eventually have to make the choice.  We will eventually have to give up the freight and the digital infrastructure if we wish to have an equitable world, or we will have to accept that some parts of the world will always be the “slaves” to the wants of the rest.

The Man Behind the Collar

January 13, 2010 § 1 Comment

This is really worth sharing.

Fr “This short series follows three priests from the Archdiocese of Cincinnati in their daily priestly duties and offers a glimpse into the diverse ways that priests serve others and relax through their own hobbies. It shows The Man Behind the Collar.”

My most recent interaction with the priesthood outside of mass was knowing that at almost midnight a priest came to the hospital to give last rites to my grandmother and another patient in the hospital.  24 hour job.

I also love the idea of asking “Lord, what do you want me to do?”.   When I was working with the youth in my parish I told them to pray every morning “What do you want for me to do today?” and if they would be bold enough to listen and act on God’s will they would live extraordinary lives of purpose and joy in Christ.  I really believe this, though I forget all too often to do it myself.

Because I suck

May 29, 2009 § Leave a comment

lemonadestandaward

I have let almost a month go by without acknowledging Michael from Reach Paradise for the very kind Lemonade Award.

Thank you so Michael.

Sorry it took so long to respond… but my lemons have been pilling up on me. 😉

Heads up

April 4, 2009 § 7 Comments

I know a good number of Catholic mommy-bloggers link (or used to link) to Moms for Modesty, hosted by “Everyday Mommy“.   I saw her button when I first started blogging, but did  link to her because I detected a bit of an “anti-catholic” slant to her writing.  Nothing obvious and nothing I would want to say anything about at the time, but enough to make me think better than to link to her.  But I did support her Moms for modesty effort.

But as true colors often do she has finally shown them in all their ugliness.  (note: that she cut off the crucifix in her image, and accidentally I am sure – I don’t think she is low enough to try to mislead her readers that way.  She probably doesn’t even realize she did.  By eliminating Christ from the rosary mysteries in her image she actually creates  the thing she is really attacking.  It is almost a perfect example of a strawman.)

It isn’t that she is expressing a view counter to Catholic teaching — Catholics see that all the time.   It is her  mocking, nasty, ugly tone that is really offensive.  Also offensive is the way that she lumps everyone who has a different opinion as an “enemy”.     I guess this is just one of those cases where we need to pray.  This woman obviously has issues with what she believes the Catholic Church to be I pray her heart will be softened and her eyes opened to the truth.

Update: You might note that Everyday Mommy says in the comments that the image she used never had a crucifix.   My comments still stand.  It doesn’t matter if she cut it off or simply picked a picture with no crucifix.  A string of prayer beads without a crucifix isn’t a rosary, she was talking about rosaries, she is leaving the Crucified Christ off the Rosary and then condemning the rosary for taking away from Christ.  Strawman argument: accuse your adversary (she calls them enemies) of something they neither say nor do and then argue against the point of your own imagining.

Sarah Palin, Special Olympics and reality check

March 20, 2009 § 2 Comments

Ok, so apparently our President said something surprisingly stupid and impolitic on  Jay Leno describing his bowling as Special Olympic worthy.   I really can’t get that worked up about it.  I know I should – Rachel has competed in several SO track events (and she likes to bowl), my cousin Brian won a silver medal in track at the Special Olympics world meet (a big deal, his family traveled out to Toronto and everything) but I guess I just don’t have the energy to really get upset about this.   It was dumb to say  — but coming from the same lips as “punished with a baby”,  I am just not surprised enough to get upset.   In the end  I think this (Special Olympics Champ to Barack: Bring it On!)  is the best response possible.

In one way I am sort of grateful for the gaffe (if you want to call it that) in that it unearthed this video.  Apparently in the rush to defend the president some of the die hard faithful Obama supports (or maybe those who just really hate Sarah Palin) brought this video to light.

What is the difference between a Hockey-mom and a Special Olympics Hockey-mom?  Nothing.   Perfect.  I also like how she talks about the absolute terror of knowing that your child is disabled and how love melts those fears away.  Say whatever you like about her, but this I absolutely respect: she lives this, and is open about it.  Plus it gives me my little excuse to say Special Olympics is wonderful.

Back when I was working downtown I would occasionally take the evening bus home.  One my route was a gentlemen who (I think) was autistic.  We got on the 72 at the same stop and I started talking to him.  I noticed he had a medal and asked him about it.  He had won it in the Special Olympic because he had ran “really, really fast”.  I told him that was really cool and that my little girl ran in the Special Olympics.  “Is she fast too?” he asked.  Yeah, she is fast.  I couldn’t even guess how many years that medal hung around that gentleman’s neck.  But he wore it everyday that I saw him.  It obviously meant a great deal to him.

Our world can be very hard for people who aren’t “perfect” but the Special Olympics gives everyone a chance to be a winner and a chance to be their best.  It celebrates the fact that we are all worth everything, that we all count and deserve a chance to try to be our best.   It is simultaneously what makes the president’s comment insensitive and stupid and what keeps me from getting too worked up about it.  None of us are perfect,  Barak Obama no exception, and no one is well served by the destructive politics that has reared its ugly head in our Nation this fall.  Picking up this one moment of stupidity isn’t useful unless it  is used intelligently to say something worth saying.

People with disabilities have much to offer our society and the Special Olympics has much to offer them.  So if you are so inclined, or if you have your dander up on this point please take a moment and donate to the Special Olympics while there you might want to read what they have say on the Obama/Leno thing.

H/T to Hotair for the Sarah Palin video and the challenge.

This is an amazing story

March 11, 2009 § Leave a comment

Jesus and the atheist and how a renegade deer, a flat tire, a dying beagle, a glowing dime, a mysterious stranger and a white garbage bag brought them together.

The short and miraculous journey of faith.  Just really amazing.

H/T to Happy Catholic

Works for me Wednesday – I will pray for you

February 25, 2009 § 1 Comment

Prayer requests are sometimes a daunting thing to keep  up with.   My homeschool email list, friends, family, blog-friends all frequently have requests or intentions that I want to pray for.  Unfortunately I am crippled with a memory somewhat resembling swiss cheese so I would promise to pray for someone’s intention and then forget.  This caused me some distress, I didn’t intent to forget, but I would then I would feel badly for not remembering.  I found two little things helped me quite a bit.

What works for me:
I always have loved the line in the confession  ” For these and for all my sins, known and unknown, I am truly sorry”.  It is such a reflection of our broken humanity.    There are things I just slip and forget, but I am none the less intensely sorry for my sins no matter if I can instantly call them to mind or not.

I bagan to slip something similar into my prayers “and for all those intentions that I have promised to pray for”.  But it seems like such a cop-out in a way — but it is far far better than not.

The better solution:
A couple years ago I was listening to a talk on the radio where the speaker (who I can’t remember for the life of me… back to the swiss chess thing) urged his audience to take a notebook to mass an write down one thing.  Just one thing, the most important thing to them for a year.  I purchased a small leather-bound book that fits neatly in my purse.  It has come to serve two purposes.  First it serves as a place to write down those important thoughts from mass, but it also serves as a great place to jot down those intention which I want to pray for.   It is a sort of prayer journal.  Something I can look at and refer to not just for my current prayer intentions, but also to see the glory of God working in the answers to those things for which I am praying.

You can see more of the Works for me Wednesday ideas at We Are THAT Family
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