RE: ‘The Father of the World’—The Pope at the U.N.
I had the same feeling when I listened to the pope's address to Catholic educators, when he said that "freedom is a participation in Being itself." In that forum where "academic freedom" is constantly being bandied about he took us right to the very source. No, folks, freedom is not about creating my own reality. It is about encountering Reality Itself. In the moment I heard this I found myself face to face with my own life--wondering to what extent I have been participating, delighting in, my true freedom. Pope Benedict portrays the life of faith as an adventure, something exciting and dynamic. When I was looking at those academics, I kept wondering whether anyone was "getting it." I have to say that today I was watching--dare I admit it?--Fox's coverage of the Mass at Yankee Stadium. And those two priests that provided the color kept recommending that we, the viewers, ought to "read the texts" of the addresses. I am grateful that they are saying it. Let's all read.
RE: After the Disaster: Back to the Family and Localism
It seems to me that the reason why it is "tremendously hard to implement practically" is that we are already living in a system that is radically weighted toward individualism. My husband and I have a small farm that we are trying to slowly move toward sustainability--we want to be producers and not consumers. But we want to participate in a local economy that doesn't exist. After I homeschool my children, run my farm, and do freelance writing for extra cash, I spend all my extra time working to co-found a real farmers' market because there is nothing like it here in our fairly good-sized town. The town is bending over backward to accommodate a Loews and a super-Walmart--re-building highways, creating tax incentives, etc.-- but the people who want to create a market for local farmers and craftsman to sell local products to local people can not get a couple hundred dollar grant from the town or the county. It is sad and pathetic. Look, we have to stop thinking in terms of people's freedom being crushed. Working for Walmart is not freedom. Owning your own piece of land, having the means of production within your grasp--or at least in the grasp of your neighbor next door--that is freedom. With all due respect, if you cannot tell the difference between this and communism, you don't know the difference between sustainability and slavery. It is like the difference between contraception and openness to life--one brings apparent freedom that is actually just license and the other brings true freedom married with responsibility. That is not to say that we should all be farmers. I am the farmer here, not my husband. He is the off-farm income, the writer. I believe in freedom to create, to take initiative. For every ten Joe farmers, there is at least one free-thinking rebel--but even for this individual, freedom can only be fulfilled in the context of the family and the community, at least broadly considered.