Thursday, April 9, 2015

More Books to Add to the Pile

I've been working on a posting about the environment, as many people are interested in the news that Pope Francis is working on a letter addressing the same issue. So I guess you can say the environment has been on my mind lately. I couple this with the fact that for about half my life I've had this bizarre attraction to the idea of living out in the country, even to the point of growing enough food to be self-sustaining. Now that technology is available, many people have been able to build or buy a "tiny home" for $15k and a small lot of property, never really having to worry about the state of the economy for work or for food because they are taking care of things themselves; to me, that freedom is very attractive.

Little did I realize (until a couple years ago) that the Catholic Church has spoken highly of rural life for a long time. Modern Catholic social teaching really sprang forth out of concern for the plight of workers on the heels of the industrial revolution and the Church, from her hierarchy down through the laity, have cautioned about the dangers of people being used as property or cogs in a machine. My rejection of unbridled capitalism (and certainly of socialism and communism) brought me to distributism, local economies, the rural life, and co-ops. There are many in America and throughout the world who are being drawn in the same direction, a rejection of this "too big to fail" world that will easily swallow you up and spit you out, and they instead long for local economies - many don't realize how much the Church supports this (through teachings called subsidiarity and solidarity).

I don't know if it's just a dream, an interest, or something more, but I couldn't help myself - I bought a bunch of really good books this week, and believe me, there were several more I was considering, but put them on my wish list instead. I also bought a few much-needed books on improving my spiritual life, but I won't list them here - here are the "Return to the Land" books I bought:

Flee to the Fields: The Founding Fathers of the Catholic Land Movement
Back in print after 68 years, this anthology of essays is a classic survey of the Catholic reaction to problems created by the industrial revolution and socialism and is a unique milestone in the history of social thought. Reacting to the Depression and the seeming inadequacies of capitalism and socialism, these thinkers contributed landmark essays on the topics of property, craftsmanship, industrialism, and more. With an introduction by Hilaire Belloc, this volume contains a coherent representation of one of the principal schools of thought applying Christian theory to the socioeconomic problems of early- to mid-20th-century Europe. This work will be of interest to anyone concerned with the history of social thought.

The Church and the Land
Written by one of the great late 19th-century/early-20th-century spiritual and social writers of England, this is a collection of essays addressing the problems of the Industrial Revolution with Christian philosophy and social thought. Among the topics included are industrialism and the rise of unemployment; the evil of the wage system; the importance of land ownership and the restoration of craft production; the necessary connection between real work and spiritual salvation. It is intended for anyone studying social and economic thought as well as Catholic and Christian studies.

Apostolic Farming: Healing the Earth
The heavy treads of our modern machinery pound the earth into submission. Our society has become expert at efficiently taking from the earth, but what do we give the earth in return? Is this the proper stewardship of the earth that God has entrusted us with? Concerns are growing about genetically engineered superfood and pesticide use. Animals are being cloned for use as organ donors, and human cloning may be just around the corner. The panic over Mad Cow Disease is a chilling example of the real price which we may all pay for cows being fed cheaply instead of nutritiously. In this remarkably prophetic work, Catherine Doherty helps shed some light on these important issues, with practical, down-to-earth guidance for farmers everywhere whether you are a backyard gardener or industry professional. Drawing on experience of her father's extensive farm in twentieth century Russia, Catherine Doherty pleads for integrity in making the earth fecund with healthy foods. Written from the perspective of a small farm named "St. Benedict Acres" developed by and for Madonna House (the community founded by the author), this book urges farmers to integrate Christianity into their farming, into the care of their portion of the Lord's vineyard.

The Importance Of The Rural Life: According To The Philosophy Of St. Thomas Aquinas. A Study In Economic Philosophy
No summary provided.

Nazareth or Social Chaos
Distilling the work of Father Vincent McNabb's years of preaching in London's Hyde Park, this challenging and entertaining book examines urbanized and industrialized life. The arguments claim that urban life has a deleterious effect on nature, community, family, and the spirit and offer a challenge to "flee to the fields," seeking a life not dominated by technology and artificial schedules but by the forces of God and nature. Newly edited and annotated, this edition stands as an important work of English social criticism.

The Rural Solution: Modern Catholic Voices on Going "Back to the Land"
A compelling and persuasive outline for the Catholic church's support of rural living is presented in this collection of contemporary writings on why city-dwelling Catholics should settle and work in the country. Discussions of the practice of retreat accompany arguments of the principles of faith, including Biblical teachings on the theological dimensions of Jesus Christ's upbringing in Nazareth, economic arguments that city life and jobs are often tied to capitalist principles, and ecological and conservationist positions that a Christian should maintain a balanced relationship with the earth.