Homesteading – The Revolution Will Not be Televised

My first son and I had a discussion last night about whether I have a “post-apocalyptic” view of life. This doesn’t mean I think the apocalypse has happened, but that I have an expectation that the future will be worse rather than better. We had been talking about some photos of my second son, who is an actor, in “Mad Max” costume and setting. I said that I didn’t know where he got his interest in post-apocalyptic films. My older son laughed and suggested that it was from me. “I’m not post-apocalyptic!” I protested, thinking myself ever such an optimist. “Mom, you homestead in a  commonwealth country! It’s so Mad Max!”

I thought I was more “Little House on the Big Prairie.”

True, I don’t have a view of the future being better than the present, if we mean more money, more goods purchased, more leisure time, and a general prosperity. We are homesteading because we doubt any of that will happen. We want to be prepared for the day when we can’t afford gasoline for the truck, heating oil for the house, or imported food. We want to be prepared to help our neighbours and family when things do get worse.

Mad Max.

If you have no idea what I am talking about, “Mad Max” is the popular name for a series of movies starring Mel Gibson, made a couple of decades or more ago. It is set in Australia, the world has been through some sort of widespread cataclysm, maybe a nuclear war, and the survivors are looking for ways to build a group of like-minded people. Of course, there are villains. It is set in the desert. Fuel, food, water other goods are scarce. Bartering and stealing are the only way to get things.

Well, that isn’t what I have in mind at all. I’m not expecting nuclear war. But I am expecting that we will all have to downshift our expectations, goals and dreams. I’m also of the opinion that if things get bad, it makes sense to head north where there are good water supplies and forest. That’s what we have done. It fits in with how we see our own lives in Christ – living simply, caring for people and the land.

We aren’t survivalists. We are not interested in the American Dream, though. We are, instead, looking for a small reflection of Eden in God’s kingdom here on earth.

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21 thoughts on “Homesteading – The Revolution Will Not be Televised

  1. I sometimes feel alone in the blogosphere because the American dream has suited me so well.

    Ever since I was a child I’ve heard talk of the end of the world approaching. Why would now be any different?

    • Christians have been talking about the end of history for 2000 years. It is an error in understanding if they call it the end of the world; we really believe it is the renewal of the world. We don’t know when, but we are told to watch for the signs and to be prepared by repentence for Christ’s return.

      I’d say my post was more about the failure of progressivism as a philosophy; that is, that the economy and our way of life can only get better. For many of us that isn’t happening. That might be why you don’t see a lot of talk about how things are improving for many people. An important strand of thought in Christianity, too, is rejection of worldly success and accepting the life of an ascetic. But it isn’t for everyone.

  2. I think a big part of this is attitude. There is the Glenn Beck mentality of “it’s coming folks, you better be ready”, advising people to order army rations, buy gold, and get ready for the economy to collapse – personally I find this mentality tiresome, and un-Christian, and it is such a depressing outlook to have.
    I much prefer the homestead mentality, we pray and worship God, we count our blessing and we live humble lives using all that God has blessed us with to take care of our needs. We live well within our means, we are not seeking the latest and greatest, we are content, and there is satisfaction in taking care of ourselves.

      • Exactly. And, because we live a frugal life we are able to faithfully tithe, donate food to the soup kitchen, and offer our time as needed to help out others.

  3. It seems that Americans have always painted their ambitions with religious colors, such that the end of “progress” means the end of civilization as we know it, and therefore Armageddon is just around the bend. Or if God is no longer on our side, then he must have completely abandoned us, and it’s every man for himself. Of course, God is still on the side of the man in his bunker with his canned food and bottled water, protecting what is his with his right to bear arms. 🙂 It’s a bit humorous to me how those survivalists rationalize the most selfish and violent of attitudes with”Christian” rhetoric, or would be humorous except for the fact that they bear those arms at a moment’s notice. Funny thing is, you hear all this end-of-the-world talk in superficially Biblical terms, without any of the real Biblical teaching about hope and renewal. It’s all Armageddon and Apocalypse, but without the Second Coming and the restoration of all things, as if nothing in the Bible matters except the Book of Revelations, and then chapters 19 forward don’t count. In Biblical terms, “the end of the world” is clear enough, but in modern English, that usually comes across as meaning “the end of Planet Earth”. Your “the end of history” is a much better way of thinking of it.

    • I borrowed the concept of the end of history, if not the actual phrase, from N.T. Wright’s book, “Surprised by Hope.” I find your obzservations here to be cogent and reasonable. I hope others do, too. I have been grieved to hear Americans (and others) comment on the Arizona shooting that they would not hesitate to answer even a simple burglary with gunshots. Honestly, my stuff isn’t that important. And to make this very, dery clear: Even if my life is threatened, and my family is threatened, I choose to use means that are non-violent to resolve the situation. Those that disagree can disagree concerning their own circumstances.

  4. This is one occasion that I give thanks for Australia’s prudent firearms laws; many from the US find them utterly incomprehencible. Per capita, our violent crime rates are far lower…it has been illegal to carry a firearm on one’s person in public since around 1916. Firearms are only used within the armed forces, police and some security agencies, and even then, there are strong moves toward non lethal options. if one is a member of a shooter’s club, they are to store their firearms on site as per regulations. Farmers and ferril animal hunters are permitted to own firearms, but these are very limited and ALL must be registered, firearms stored correctly on the farm etc. I thank God we did not stray down the path of the ‘right to bear arms’.

    Perhaps our good friends across the pond could take a look at their Southern Hemisphere fellows and learn

    a( responsible and sensible attitudes towards firearms
    and
    b( in relation to the individual responsible for the happenings in Arizona, humane, decent, compassionate and Christian approaches to treating those who live with mental illness or substantce abuse (as evidently the young man at the centre of this mess did).

    A thought-provoking link
    http://teaattrianon.blogspot.com/2011/01/making-sense-of-tuscon.html

    This is one of the clearest on-line entries I have read dealing with this painful subject.

    Let us pray for all involved, and I mean ALL.

    And finally, refering to the ‘end of the worlders’ and violent survivalists, an old English Christian phrase of focus upon the Almighty comes to mind…

    ‘In the name of the Father, Son and Holy Ghost, as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end, Amen.’

    • Knowing something of Australia’s history, it too has a wild and woolly, every-man-for-himself kind of past. Here in North America we still have big game animals – deer, elk and moose, which some people rely on for food. Handguns really aren’t much use in hunting, though!

  5. Magdalena,

    you’re right; Australia does have a wild past…hence the laws brought about in the first decade of the 20th century and subsequently over time to curb access to firearms. Sadly, ferril animals give us problems (wild pigs etc introduced) but as you’ve pointed out, handguns are not going to help, there…that is why those living on the land are able to keep licenced firearms of a very limited range (and for other farm needs) under strict conditions. Sport hunting (we have a small wild duck hunting community here) is looked upon as virtually a crime; I dare say it will be banned within the next decade. Our nation has been responsible for a number of dreadful acts (against its indigenous population) since settlement that need prayer and intercession, wisdom and foresight to address even today, but the handgun and firearms craze is not one of them. I am also thankful beyond belief for our health system; though not perfect (no system can be) it is a lifesaver, literally, here in Australia; not that discimilar to the Canadian system, I believe.

    Thank you for publishing these comments of mine that may be perceived by some as controvercial; but these thoughts need to be aired.

    • Controversial is fine with me, when something needs to be said. I am disheartened at the number of people who would retaliate against violence with more violence. I am also concerned that so many people quickly jump to, “Put that animal down!” when some poor, paranoid person commits a crime. There is a huge compassion gap in the Western world, and probably everywhere.

  6. Magdalena,

    Preach it, sister!! ‘Compassion gap’ is an apt description. Do you think it goes hand in hand with two ends of the one spectrum in the Western world; on the one hand, the rise in atheism/subscription to the concept of social darwinism in which the sanctity of the human being and human life based on the fact that we are all made in the Creator’s image is trumped by the philosophy of autonomy as our highest human calling on the one hand, and equally militant permutations of Christianity on the other that breed an ‘eye for an eye’ mentality alongside the philosophy of bunker survivalism on the other? Just a thought; I can feel another post coming on expressly addressing the issues of compassion, orthodox Christianity and community… a’ la ‘the new Benedictines’… When you have time to write…

    have you read ‘the Rage Against God’ by Peter Hitchens? yes, he is the brother of vocal atheist Christopher Hitchens, and for many years subscribed to the same philosophy as his brother before coming to Christ a decade ago. Having been a foreign correspondant in the old Soviet block, post soviet world, plus pre and post calamity Somalia, and somewhat of an intelectual, he addresses the ideology and those of his brother’s ilk who hold it with academic and mature intelectual riggor, spelling out where he came from, where he is now, and his grave concerns due to the results of the ‘compassion gap’ amongst other things. To be certain, he does acknowledge himself as somewhat of a pesamist, but this is balanced out by his Anglican faith and in the end its not all doom and gloom; if you’ve read it, I’d love your thoughts.

    • I’d never heard of Peter Hitchens, and will see if I can find his book. I ignore the neo-atheists for the most part. They are only talking to each other, not to convicted Christians, because we have “proof” of a different order.

      I’ve said before that come the fall of civilization, a bunker isn’t going to help much. We need to be building community, not fortresses. I may have something to say soon about what Wendell Bery calls “unintentional communities.”

  7. Magdalena,

    if your library system is like ours in Aus, you’ll be able to either borrow it from your local public library or get it on inter-library loan as its bound to be in the collection of a larger city library in your area, if not your local one. For what its worth, he received a George Orwell award for it (never given out to such Christian appologeticists as an ex-atheist who has subsequently found faith. I have often amusingly wondered what conversations around the Hitchens family dinner table must be like at Christmas, family gatherings etc…I pray for his brother, Christopher, also, that he may be open to a similar leading to the one that his brother Peter has answered, and, that in spite of his current health situation (suffering from throat cancer) he may be able to find our Heavenly Father in all of this – despite the pain and the horrible things that people do to one another on this Earth…What is that timely passage in the book of Job? ‘Though He slay me, (Job speaking of God) shall I love Him still…’ a very difficult passage in this day and age for most to get their heads around.

    As for the usual atheist banter, most is a dog and pony show designed to fill halls, theatres, sell books, newspapers and often descends to personal attack and ridicule. Not much to see ther, people….move along, please…

    • Yes, we have a province wide interlibrary loan system, but the library isn’t very convenient for us anymore. I’m trying to limit my trips to town to once a month, barring emergencies or doctor’s appointments, and their loan period is less than that. Of course, I can renew the loan online – if I remember!

  8. magdalena,

    here it is; http://www.amazon.co.uk/Rage-Against-God-Foundation-Civilisation/dp/1441105727 at a half decent price, as well. I know funds are thin, and you’re trying to limit your outgoings and curb the theologically minded person’s almost habitual attraction to books (I’m bit by the same bug, my friend, and I can’t even read them!! – I’ll get them brailed……yes, i will…send ’em off in the next month….) but this one is definitely worth the $$$. It is one of the best appologetic tools one can have in one’s spiritual armoury; for it speaks to the atheist and intelectual in the language and terms they understand – for he who speaks was one of their own (and still applies the same reason and intelectual riggor to his arguments).

    Here’s the North American Amazon link
    http://www.amazon.com/Rage-Against-God-Atheism-Faith/dp/0310320313

    and a youtube interview with the man.

    This is one of the most powerful witnesses for Christ I have ever encountered.

    he is a very brave man – and this is claerly of Christ – no other reason could account for such a turnaround.

    • I’ll see if I can get it from Indigo here in Canada. I have an account with them- it’s where Nicholas used to work. I think the book will appeal to him a lot.

  9. And this

    Regardless of what his perceived politics may be, he is still a light in the darkness.

    I would recommend refraining from reading the youtube comments; very predictable and depressing , for the mostpart.

    as far as faith, and outing the dangerous consequences of millitant atheism that potentially await us, I think he is a genuine prophet for our time. as for marxism vs capitalism, I do not buy into either, rather, I believe distributism also known as subsidiarity (stresses the importance of the local – community in terms of faith, commerce, governence, assistance for those in need etc over multinationalism, corporatism and invasive govt. such as EU etc provides a healthier alternative. yes, it is heavily influenced by, and influences Catholic Social Justice, but its principles work in any Christian setting and are most visibly manifest in both the monastic communities, and, in North America at any rate, intentional faith communities such as Menonites etc. All this may tie in with your ‘unintentional’ community thoughts as well…I think it all – Plainness, the ‘slow’ movements, subsidiarity/distributism, faith community, the various strands of Christian social justice, the ‘back to the land’ movement (Fr. Vincent McNabb), community gardening, ‘urban homestead’ etc, even the highly visible Jamie Oliver Ministry of Food and here in Aus, the Stephany Elexander School kitchen garden programmes are tied in together. Will we see similar movements when it comes to clothing, home needs etc on the grounds of ethics relating to both workers and materials used?

    It all forms an organic link… after all, the two party system, be one ‘lib or lab’ ( right or left, in my thoughts, has by and large failed, producing two systems much like one another. But that’s another discussion for another time.

    I’ll stop clogging your comments box now, Magdalena…thank you for your patience and forebearance.

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