Canary in the Coal Mine Friday, Nov 23 2012 

So I’ve been watching the fallout from the Church of England General Synod’s vote (by a very close margin) not to ordain women to the episcopate with mixed feelings.  Chief among is, thank God I’m not an Anglican, but not for the reason that would be expected by the Facebook chatter and the circular email from my (male) college chaplain stating that the decision made him ‘feel ashamed to be a Church of England priest this evening’.  To be honest, I don’t really care one way or the other what the Church of England chooses to do about ordaining women.  The CoE doesn’t have valid orders anyway – their continued separation from the Universal Church means that their priests and bishops are, from a Catholic perspective, laymen (and -women).  I don’t buy the Evangelical Protestant readings of St Paul about women keeping quiet during church or not instructing men as being transcendent apostolic truths for all time; I’m not sure St Paul did himself, given the prominent (though not apostolic) role women played in his ministry, not to mention Christ’s.  In that light, the argument that if women can’t be bishops then they are deprived access to the spiritual seats in the House of Lords would seem compelling if the Lords wasn’t already such an emasculated political body that it doesn’t really matter anyway.

The real reason I’m glad to be watching all this from the outside, however, is that I can’t imagine having an ecclesiology that allows the situation to come to such a pass in the first place.  Many of my agnostic or atheist friends have railed against the outcome, which seems silly to me, as it’s not like they’d sign up if the CoE suddenly started ordaining women.  The only people who really seem to have a right to get directly upset about the whole thing are Anglicans (though I suppose an argument might be made for the English taxpayer, but that is a whole other story; one that again makes me thankful to be in a Church that settled it in the eleventh century with the Investiture Controversy).  But this democratic principle itself is what I find hard to swallow.  If one believes that the Church is the Bride of Christ, and that the Spirit has led Her into all Truth, what does that say about voting on an aspect of that revealed truth over and over and over again until you get the answer you want?  The major thing that seems to have come out of this is the feeling that a mistake was made; because of a cumbersome electoral system, because of bigots in the traditionalist and evangelical camps, because canon law prevents another vote for four or five more years.  The Catholic Church of course has it conciliar strand as well, but even œcumenical councils aren’t able to overturn the continuous teaching and practice of the Universal Church.  And the dogmatic conclusions of those councils are binding, whether it’s Nicea or Trent or Vatican II.  It’s not an evolution, it is a development, as Blessed John Henry wrote; the truths don’t change, our understanding of them simply becomes more clear.

So the Roman Catholic Church will never ordain women because She cannot (‘should’ doesn’t even enter into it, because it is wishful thinking).  She cannot say she was wrong, she made a mistake, so let’s start Vatican III and vote until we get the bishops to come round.  Christ’s choice, ‘acting in a free and sovereign manner’ (He is God, after all), fell only on his male followers to be apostles, out of a mixed-sex following.  That does not mean there is no place for women in the Church, even in positions of authority or teaching, but it does mean they cannot be ordained, and however the members of the Church may feel about it, there is nothing they can do.  The development leads only to a clearer understanding of why they cannot be ordained, for instance because of the nuptial symbolism  of the Mass, or because the priest serves as an alter Christus in the celebration of the sacraments.  Other old arguments based on cultural assumptions, like that women are morally or intellectually weaker or that they are unfit to govern because of Eve’s sin, are discarded as our understanding of the Truth becomes clearer.

This comparative theology and ecclesiology is necessary because it comes to my main concern about the blowback following the decision.  Roman Catholics may look at the Church of England with a mixture of envy and bemusement (and if they are historians, perhaps a little bit of resentment), but the reality is that the CoE often serves as a social breakwater: as the dominant and state church in England, all the fury of the progressive reformers is focused primarily (though not exclusively) on her doorstep.  In Catholic circles, it is more common to hear debate about whether priests should be allowed to marry or not (not, incidentally, a dogmatic issue) than about whether women can be ordained.  I think this is for a number of reasons, not least because of the difference in ecclesiology outlined above.  But I think it is also because certain cultural waves are still beating themselves on the CoE: married priests is not an issue for them, so it starts to become one for us; women’s ordination is still an issue for them, so it is not so much for us.  When the CoE does ordain women bishops (which they will, as soon as they can challenge the wrong answer from this Synod in another one; and if not then, at the next one, on and on until they get it ‘right’), then I am willing to bet that the tide might begin to rise around the Catholic Church.

Of course, as the Church, she can’t do what will be increasingly demanded of her (what is being increasingly demanded of the Church of England); so she’ll be increasingly penalised legally.  The right to grant marriage licences will probably be the first to be revoked, and loss of charitable status will probably follow soon after.  That doesn’t sound drastic, especially if one is not a chuchgoer (or if one is French, in relation to the former), but that sidelining, the marginalisation of traditional faith communities only leads to further intolerance of their strange and kooky beliefs.  In the end, they’ll either have to tow the dominant cultural line (which they seem to have given up trying to influence or direct) or go underground.

All this is to say that as Catholics watch the Church of England go into her death spasms, they might do well to think about how they intend to survive in the darkening shaft.  Getting out isn’t an option, so we’d better start trying to improve the air quality.

Beautiful and True Tuesday, Dec 6 2011 

I try to avoid simple cross-posting, but this is so much better expressed than I would be able to do, and so in need of expression.

The conclusion puts it perfectly:

For those of us worried about the character of our time and our people, slow conversion to the loveliness of things is the task at hand. So much to do, so many bad ideas, so many neglected fences and overgrown windbreaks, so much overgrazed pasture, so many used and discarded persons. Each idea needs replacing, each fence mending, each windbreak pruning, each pasture fallowing, each person restoring, but we’re in it for the long game, we need to think in terms of centuries, not years; of cathedral (re)building, not petition signing. And the long game ahead needs the conversion of our loves, our advertence to the loveliness of the real.

Thanks very much, Mr Snell.

The Lovely Real and the Long Game

Christ the King Sunday, Nov 20 2011 

I once heard a Tridentinist priest give a lecture complaining about how the 1969 revisions to the liturgical calendar had moved the Solemnity of Christ the King from the last Sunday before All Saints’ to the last Sunday of the entire liturgical year, just before the beginning of Advent.  He lamented the fact that such an important feast had been relegated to the end of the year, as if the divine kingship it celebrates was of as much importance as a footnote.

This struck me at the time as a good example of Catholic traditionalism picking a fight for its own sake, and further reflection on the issue has convinced me just how wrong he was.  His argument about the ultimate significance of this solemnity was absolutely correct; but it is that very significance that makes it so appropriate to observe it on the ultimate Sunday of the ecclesiastical year.

Here we stand, just before Advent and the return of the eternal promise (both fulfilled and expected) of the Incarnation, celebrating the eschatological wonder of the Kingdom of Heaven, among us now as the Church and awaiting us in the New Jerusalem.  This is apocalyptic stuff, and it is celebrated at the end of every year because all those doomsaying monks, prophets, and old men of every generation were right, in a way: we are constantly living at the end of time.  We have a responsibility to usher in the promise of the end times, to fight against the corrupting trends that reject the dominion of God-on-Earth.  In modern times, the Vendeans in France and the Cristeros in Mexico seized upon this idea in their struggles for the Faith in the eighteenth and twentieth centuries.  But our call in the West of the twenty-first century is not a literal call to arms, but a call to recognise, as Christ says in the Gospel of Saint Luke, that ‘the kingdom of God is within you.’  This does not mean quiescence, doing the best we can as individuals, but rather a recognition that the kingship of Christ depends upon our own morals choices lived out in community.  We must accept the difficult challenge of balancing the need for justice made real in our governments, our markets, and, most importantly, our homes and neighbourhoods with the reality of a fallen world where perfect justice will never be completely achieved until the sheep are separated from the goats.  Christ’s kingship does not and cannot rest on human power, but God does choose to use human beings to accomplish His divine designs.  We must live in the world, empowered by the spirit of baptism, as bailiffs (to use a medieval analogy) of Christ the King, while remembering that sinful men, ourselves included, will fail in our pursuit of the good.  But this must not discourage us from the chase, as we, with our neighbours, Christian or non-Christian alike, work together in our quest for our heavenly homeland.

Babel vs Pentecost: The question of a global political authority Wednesday, Nov 2 2011 

The recent document published by the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace concerning the global economy and calling for the creation of a ‘global public authority’ has already attracted considerable attention in a variety of fora, including First Things, The American Conservative, A View from the Right, and Front Porch Republic.  It is certainly not a play by Antichrist for world domination, as anti-Catholic bigots may claim (how could the Vatican not have seen that one coming?), but it is still very problematic.  While the document contains a largely accurate outline of the history of the current economic crisis and the reasons for the collapse, as well as some worthwhile specific proposals for amending the practice of the global financial markets, it nearly goes without saying that the overall aim of the publication has deeply troubling ramifications.  Others have written at length about the dangers inherent in any global political authority: the fact that all examples of international authority thus far have often been limited to the point of inefficiency or, when efficient, have used their power with regrettable, though perhaps unintended, consequences; the inevitable threat of corruption and abuse of power; the imposition of universal principles that ignore the validity of particular cultural systems and structures; the failure to recognise that the centralising impulses of statification and globalisation were major contributors to the current problems in the first place; and perhaps most surprisingly, despite the lip service paid to the principle, that such an Authority (written throughout the document with a sinister capital ‘A’) intrinsically contradicts the consistent Church teaching of subsidiarity.  These problems all seem self-evident enough that I do not feel the need to spend further time on them (though we can debate them in the comments if someone feels so inclined).

However, the conclusion of the document (according to a provisional translation) raises an interesting question of biblical exegesis:

Through the account of the Tower of Babel (Genesis 11:1-9), the Bible warns us how the “diversity” of peoples can turn into a vehicle for selfishness and an instrument of division. In humanity there is a real risk that peoples will end up not understanding each other and that cultural diversities will lead to irremediable oppositions. The image of the Tower of Babel also warns us that we must avoid a “unity” that is only apparent, where selfishness and divisions endure because the foundations of the society are not stable. In both cases, Babel is the image of what peoples and individuals can become when they do not recognize their intrinsic transcendent dignity and brotherhood.
The spirit of Babel is the antithesis of the Spirit of Pentecost (Acts 2:1-12), of God’s design for the whole of humanity: that is, unity in truth. Only a spirit of concord that rises above divisions and conflicts will allow humanity to be authentically one family and to conceive of a new world with the creation of a world public Authority at the service of the common good.

There are several problems with this interpretation.  The First Things article that I linked above points out that Babel did not start off as a praiseworthy goal, frustrated by selfish ambitions and unwillingness to cooperate.  Instead, it was a project begun in a spirit of cooperation, intending to pursue the common good so that mankind would not ‘be scattered abroad in all the lands.’  It was not their own diversity which prevented this, but rather a diversity given to them by God, to show them that such a monumental project lies beyond the grasp of man.  If anything, the story of Babel should illustrate why (from a mythological point of view) reliance on a global political Authority to save us from or prevent financial crises is fundamentally misplaced.  Babel was an attempt to centralise and unify all of humanity, thus creating a temporal power which would seek to eliminate man’s need for dependence on any Authority other than its own.  It is hard to see how any modern manifestation of global political power would do otherwise.

Therefore the comparison with Pentecost is deeply misleading.  Babel and Pentecost are not equivalent projects pursued in different spirits.  Babel is the ultimate temporal project; Pentecost the ultimate spiritual one.  The creation of the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church at Pentecost was the beginning of the first truly universal endeavour for humanity, a unification of the diversity of mankind within the catholic family of God.  But this catholicity is only made possible through the person of Jesus Christ.  Christ combines the universality of God with the particularity of Man, and therefore only a body in touch with Him can achieve harmony on a global scale.  And this harmony is an ecclesiastical one, not a political one; the times in which the representatives of the Church have been most culpable of wrongdoing have been when She has held the most temporal authority.  This is not to say that the Church plays no role in politics; our Faith is sacramental, and therefore calls for interaction with real practical issues.  However, while the Church has universal jurisdiction in spiritual matters, including how those inform political issues (economic morality, rights of minorities, etc.), it cannot hold such jurisdiction in temporal matters.  The ecclesiastical and political, while interrelated, remain separate; simply because the one can manifest unity in communion with Christ does not suggest that such unity is possible through the mechanisms of human government on a global scale.

Runciman’s Glimpse of Ecumenical Unity Saturday, Oct 22 2011 

I am currently reading the late Sir Steven Runciman’s The Fall of Constantinople, which, like all of his books, is fascinating.  Granted, Runciman was always much more of a writer than a historian, and he was notorious for liberally imagining some of the scenes in his books, but I found his description of 28 May 1453, the day before the final and successful Turkish assault on the Imperial city, extremely moving.

The years preceding 1453 had been marked by inconclusive attempts to end the Great Schism between the Eastern and Western Church, culminating in official reunion at the Council of Florence in 1439.  The act of union was agreed to by Emperor John VIII Palæologus and Patriarch Joseph II of Constantinople but rejected by many of the clergy and laity under their jurisdiction.  Two successive pro-union patriarchs eventually fled to Rome, and attempts by Emperor Constantine XI to enforce the union only created deep resentment among those opposed to it; but the superficial reconciliation may have facilitated the sharing in the defence of the city by Venetians, Genoese, and Catalans.  At any rate, with Sultan Mehmet II outside the walls, the Turkish troops preparing to breach the walls and sack the city, priorities among the defenders soon changed:

The day was nearly over. Already crowds were moving towards the great Church of the Holy Wisdom.  For the past five months no pious Greek had stepped through its portals to hear the Sacred Liturgy defiled by Latins and by renegades.  But on that evening the bitterness was ended.  Barely a citizen, except for the soldiers on the walls, stayed away from this desperate service of intercession.  Priests who held union with Rome to be a mortal sin now came to the altar to serve with their Unionist brothers.  The Cardinal was there, and beside him bishops who would never acknowledge his authority; and all the people came to make confession and take communion, not caring whether Orthodox or Catholic administered it.  There were Italians and Catalans along with the Greeks.  The golden mosaics, studded with the images of Christ and His Saints and the Emperors and Empresses of Byzantium, glimmered in the light of a thousand lamps and candles; and beneath them for the last time the priests in their splendid vestments moved in the solemn rhythm  of the Liturgy.  At this moment there was union in the Church of Constantinople.

As we both now face a cultural enemy more pervasive than the Turks in the form of material secularism, may God grant us the grace to find such a real unity among the Eastern and Western halves of the Church.  May Rome and Constantinople (and Antioch and Alexandria) commune once more in the full beauty and harmony of their traditions, free from angry recriminations and petty accusations, motivated first and foremost not from fear, but by a spirit of true Christian charity.

The Ecology of Man Thursday, Oct 13 2011 

I am a bit late on the ball with this (by three weeks, in fact) but the busyness of life has made me keep putting off reading the speech that Pope Benedict XVI delivered at Berlin in September.  It is a momentous lecture, in the tradition of his Regensburg address (please read the entire speech before dismissing it as anti-Muslim; such comments ignore the text and miss the real point of the lecture, which is about the intrinsic importance of Greco-Roman philosophy to the Christian tradition), an extremely relevant discussion of the importance of natural law and the Christian cultural heritage to European policy.  His essential point is that our rejection of legal imperatives based on naturally revealed truth—our increasing acceptance of positivist descriptions of the universe that, paradoxically, allow for a relativist attitude toward human behaviour—goes hand-in-hand with our treatment of the physical natural world.  Rather than viewing ourselves as complete masters of nature, both in the environment and in law, we must acknowledge the importance of a creative force (God) that has constructed the temporal and spiritual (and therefore ethical) environment within which we exist.  This fact (this ‘is’) requires responsibility (an ‘ought’) in our personal and political behaviour.  Very interestingly, the Holy Father connects the current crisis with a loss of an understanding of European culture.  He says it better than I can:

The positivist approach to nature and reason, the positivist world view in general, is a most important dimension of human knowledge and capacity that we may in no way dispense with. But in and of itself it is not a sufficient culture corresponding to the full breadth of the human condition. Where positivist reason considers itself the only sufficient culture and banishes all other cultural realities to the status of subcultures, it diminishes man, indeed it threatens his humanity.

I say this with Europe specifically in mind, where there are concerted efforts to recognize only positivism as a common culture and a common basis for law-making, so that all the other insights and values of our culture are reduced to the level of subculture, with the result that Europe vis-à-vis other world cultures is left in a state of culturelessness and at the same time extremist and radical movements emerge to fill the vacuum. In its self-proclaimed exclusivity, the positivist reason which recognizes nothing beyond mere functionality resembles a concrete bunker with no windows, in which we ourselves provide lighting and atmospheric conditions, being no longer willing to obtain either from God’s wide world. And yet we cannot hide from ourselves the fact that even in this artificial world, we are still covertly drawing upon God’s raw materials, which we refashion into our own products. The windows must be flung open again, we must see the wide world, the sky and the earth once more and learn to make proper use of all this.

I highly recommend reading the entire speech.  It is a fantastic example of the way in which this pope is tackling the crises (environmental, economic, political) facing Europe (and, in slightly different ways, the United States) today.  His reputation may have been built as a brilliant theologian, but his understanding of the interaction between theology, philosophy, and temporal matters is superb, and very much underreported.  The problems facing modern Western society are all linked in ways that are not immediately obvious to those of us trained to look at them from a materialistic perspective, but Benedict has here, as elsewhere, done a wonderful job of bringing to light the interconnectedness of today’s greatest challenges.

Schumacher, Part I Wednesday, Sep 21 2011 

This year is the centenary of Ernst Freidrich Schumacher’s birth, and celebrations of his life and work have been consistently in the newspapers and blogs the last several months surrounding his birthday on 16 August.  Rhodes House held a seminar in his honour last Friday, and as my own tribute to him, I would like to do three posts highlighting the talks given by the three panelists: Barbara Wood, Schumacher’s daughter; Simon Trace, CEO of Practical Action; and Ann Pettifor, fellow of the New Economics Foundation and director of Advocacy International.

Mrs Wood’s talk coincided with the reissuing of her biography of her father, entitled Alias Papa: A Life of Fritz Schumacher.  She spoke about her father’s life, particularly his connection with the Rhodes Scholarship.  Schumacher, born in Bonn, was elected in 1930 as one of the first Rhodes Scholars from Germany following the First World War; Mrs Wood listed the qualities expected of Scholars (truthfulness, courage, devotion to duty, sympathy for and protection of the weak, kindliness, unselfishness, and fellowship) and described her father as fully possessing all of them.  For much of his life he was an atheist and sympathetic to Marxism.  However, the education that life had in store for him modified these philosophical positions.  After studying at Oxford he spent a year in New York learning about the financial markets.  While in New York, Adolph Hitler was appointed chancellor of Germany, and upon his return to his native land, Schumacher quickly found life intolerable.  He returned to England, but with the advent of war in 1939, found himself an ‘enemy alien’ unable to obtain work except as a farm labourer.

This, Mrs Woods claimed, was the first major educational moment for him.  Initially frustrated with the apparent inefficiencies of traditional farm life, he soon learned their underlying rationale.  Among his chores was a daily numbering of the cattle, which he felt a redundant and silly task.  However, one day his count came up one short.  Upon investigation, he discovered the cow was dead.  When he related this to the farmer, his employer was irate, and demanded to know why Schumacher had not told him that the cow was ill.  This experience demonstrated to Schumacher the importance of seeing the trees amongst the forest; viewing individuals as individuals, not merely as components of a statistical whole.  Individuals, whether livestock or people, had intrinsic value and had to be cared for accordingly.  In this light, the rhythms of traditional farm labour made sense.

Schumacher’s time on the farm was limited, however.  He was sent to an internment camp with other Germans in the United Kingdom.  There he was quickly elected as the leader of the internees.  In this capacity, he found he had to look beyond the exterior in meeting the needs of those under his authority, and recognise them as having complex and unique desires that could not be understood solely in terms of the aggregate.  However, he still believed in the viability of statist solutions to economics problems, and often during the war met and worked with John Maynard Lord Keynes and William Lord Beveridge, despite his status as an ‘enemy alien.’

These lessons were further reinforced while working as an economic advisor to the British Control Commission in the rebuilding of postwar West Germany.  Throwing money at the economic difficulties was not going to provide a solution; the root issues were education, the development of skills, and the encouragement of a proper work ethic and motivation.  In other words, it was about people rather than money (another issue that he presciently appreciated at the time and later with his work on the National Coal Board was the coming fuel crisis, as energy demands increased and natural capital was spent).

His thinking took another leap after a consulting trip to Burma where he realised that the level of human happiness in that country was attached not to their levels of material prosperity, but to their sense of purpose.  Their traditional methods of production imbued their labour with meaning and was united to a deeper understanding of the aim of life.  Economics was not a science with natural laws, it was not set in stone; instead, it involved deep philosophical questions about human spirituality.  Upon returning from Burma, he enthusiastically declared to his friends, ‘I am a Buddhist!’  It was his further work in Asia, particularly in India, that led him to become an advocate for ‘intermediate’ (or ‘appropriate’) technology; Western-imported first-grade technology often is incompatible with local infrastructures or cultural sensitivities to be of practical use to developing societies, thus the urgent material problems of these societies must be met by technology appropriate to their capacity and culture (more on this tomorrow).

The final step that I found particularly interesting with regard to Schumacher’s life (and one which seems understated or completely unknown among Schumacher fans) was his relationship with the Roman Catholic Church.  His new understanding of economics increasingly involved him in broader reading, which included the Church Fathers and Saint Thomas Aquinas.  Both his wife and daughter separately converted to Catholicism, but Schumacher remained officially noncommittal.  However, he was impressed and inspired by papal teaching; not only by social encyclicals such as Leo XIII’s Rerum novarum, but also by moral ones, such as Paul VI’s Humanæ vitæ.  Ultimately, though, Schumacher entered the Church not through intellectual persuasion but by observation of practical action.  From Mrs Woods’ biography:

‘Although he was well acquainted with Catholic writers ancient and modern, he knew next to nothing about the actual form of worship in the rites of the Church.  He was fascinated, struck particularly by the reverence with which the priests handled the chalice and the paten after they had distributed Communion, the care with which every vessel was carefully wiped and polished.’

To make a brief editorial comment here, I find this vindication of the evangelical quality of traditional ceremonial particularly striking.  A laissez-faire attitude toward the liturgy (with, for example, only cursory post-communion cleaning of the sacramental vessels or, worse, having lay people do it after Mass in the sacristy while chatting about their days) may suggest that the Church is a friendly, welcoming, and easy-going place where people can feel comfortable (an ecclesiology that I think is pretty flawed), but it certainly does not suggest that we are serious about what we say we believe.  Care and attention to the cleaning of the chalice and paten and the reverence shown to the Blessed Sacrament throughout liturgical services demonstrates to the world the fact that this is not a pretty figurative or metaphorical practice divorced from reality; instead the transubstantiation that occurs during the consecration has practical consequences for the way we handle the physical objects with which the Sacrament comes into contact.

At any rate, in 1971 Schumacher was received into the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church, making, in his words, ‘legal a long-standing illicit love affair’.  Two years later he published the best-selling Small is Beautiful: Economics as if People Mattered, which predicted many of the troubles in which we currently find ourselves and some which we will shortly have to face.  It is a foundational text for anyone interested in how economics must relate to human well-being in the modern world.  Schumacher died in 1977, and his favourite of his works, A Guide for the Perplexed, was published in that year.  His posthumous Good Work (1979) is also an important book.

Tomorrow I’ll discuss the ongoing work being done by Practical Action, an organisation founded by Schumacher (as the Intermediate Technology Development Group) during his lifetime, and how the work he advocated continues to have relevance.  But quite apart from the practical applications of his ideas, Schumacher’s contributions to economics are invaluable to modern distributism and an ethical approach to the field generally.  Mrs Woods quoted Chief Rabbi Jonathan Lord Sacks at the end of her talk as saying, ‘Science takes things apart to find out how they work, religion puts them together to find out what they mean.’  Since the latter half of the last century, we have owed a great debt to E.F. Schumacher for reclaiming economics from the scientists and returning it to the sphere of moral action.

Quo vadimus? Thursday, Jun 9 2011 

The poet, prophet, and farmer Wendell Berry was once participating in a debate with Nixon’s Secretary of Agriculture, Earl Butz, when a heckler from the audience called out to him, ‘You can’t go back in time!’  Berry’s response came back: ‘I’m not talking about going back in time.  I’m talking about going back in character.’

I’ve written a short manifesto about the purpose of this blog under ‘Revolution within Tradition.’  It is almost certain to change over time as I refine my own ideas about how this revolution should go, and that refinement is something I ask all of you, dear readers, to participate in.

I am fully aware of the paradox that the rash of neoLuddite and localist bloggers bewailing modernity and technology seems to present.  However, I think that websites like Front Porch Republic (to which this blog owes a massive debt; even that Wendell Berry anecdote comes from a Jason Peters article) inherently present an important point: as much as I sometimes would like to go around smashing all the looms in which we’ve ensnared ourselves, we cannot reject all developments out of hand.  We are not preparing a reaction, we are preparing a revolution.

Yes, the idea of people extolling the virtues of staying at home and eating and buying local through the medium of Internet forums does seem contradictory, but the opportunity it presents is invaluable.  Through this, we are able to share information and ideas about our individual observations and reflections on one of the few universal political, economic, and social principles: subsidiarity.

And so, ironically, we must come together in support of our attempts to cultivate our own local communities and their cultures.  Even more ironically (in light of all the counterproductive harm it also does) the Internet offers a wonderful tool for this.  This is why I do invite any input that dedicated readers or passers-by may have on the revolution we are introducing to rebuild a shattered world.

My own perspective, for full disclosure, is that of a Roman Catholic (and a convert: the worst kind) American living in England (yes, add that to the list of localist hypocrisies).  My primary concern is with the traditions and cultures of the West (meaning Europe and its colonial offspring in North America and Australia) that are rapidly being lost in the midst of rising secularism and dependence on technology.  These aren’t necessarily things that have been lost in the last fifty years, or even in the last two hundred (I, for one, would count Catholicism as being among them).  However, the pace is certainly increasing, and in our globalising world, these problems (many of which the West has spawned) are no longer exclusive to the Western sphere.  Thoughts from those with other backgrounds trying to preserve their own heritages in the face of modernisation are very welcome as well.

Ultimately, I hope this will be a thoughtful and fruitful exploration; for myself, but for you as well.  The world is going to look very different by the end of our lives; I hope we can make it for the better, starting with our own patch of earth.