Over the Tipping Point

Boy Oblivious

The U.S. has gone over the tipping point. It happened years and years ago, but the evidence for it is in the reelection of Obama.

Sure, Romney lost by a fairly small margin, popular vote-wise. But upon what principles were people voting for him? Based on the correct understanding of the order of truths? Largely, no, and that’s more evidence of the problem.

For example, how many Republicans believe that the sanctity of human life, from conception to natural death, is the most important issue? Probably 5%, if that.

So while those who voted for Obama certainly have a wrong understanding of natural law and the order of truths, not to mention divine revelation, the majority of those who voted Republican similarly have a wrong understanding of these things. Many of them don’t give a lick about 3,500 children aborted each day in our country, or about euthanasia, embryo-destructive stem cell research, traditional marriage, and so on.

They were more likely voting with the idea that the economy was the main issue, or because they think Romney will be better for their pocketbook.

And in spite of the bad economy, the ineptitude that left four of our people dead at Benghazi, the forcing of people to pay for others’ contraception, a (slight) majority of people in our country voted for Obama again.

Truth is, we as a country have cut ourselves adrift from the moorings of natural law and divine revelation. Our ship, rudderless in the ocean, will eventually hit a big wave and founder. It is not a question of if, but of when, and reelecting Obama just speeds the day. On balance, Romney would not have slowed this catastrophe by much, but he was the lesser of the two evils.

We get what we deserve.

Should we give up? Absolutely not. But we are now entering the choppy waters, so you’d better hang on tightly.

What to Do?

Matthew Warner’s suggestions are here. Dr. Taylor Marshall follows along the same lines but goes into more detail:

My answer for all you young lay people: Have lots and lots of Catholic babies. Unplug the TV. Play games with them….Pray the Rosary every night with them? The Rosary should be like breathing. You just do it. Even if you’re exhausted. Pray the Rosary. Read the Bible with your family. Read the Douay Rheims – not some dumbed-down emasculated version.

Learn Latin yourself. Teach Latin to your kids. Don’t attend Masses where there is liturgical abuse. Bad liturgy teaches your children that the things of God aren’t important – that the things of God are merely a matter of one man’s whims. Raise manly boys and feminine girls. Take your sons hunting and fishing. Let them butcher an animal. Take your daughters on dates. Show them that they are ladies…

Yes.

That is what we must do, and I would take it one step further: we must flee to the fields, build homesteads near each other, and form communities.

Like the Beatitudes Mission Community. Like people around Clear Creek Abbey. Like the place where we are going to buy land at and build.

In other words, join together with other families who are living their faith, doing all the things Taylor said, protecting their children, equipping them and training them: Mass, Rosary, Latin*, Hunting, Farming, Fishing, and so on. So we don’t fly solo, we band together, not in communes or utopian enclaves, but out in the world, living close by together by retaining the proper boundaries around each family. (Eastern Orthodox peeps: substitute “Greek” for “Latin” and come join us.)

Katie and I are looking at one area, outside Austin, where we can afford to buy a good deal of land, ultimately even one hundred acres or more. Our hope is to build our homestead there and then give or lease or sell three, five, or ten acre plots to other families who want to join us. Imagine then an oratory being set up there, with priests coming in to celebrate Mass.

Arks of civilization. Through the Dark Age we are already within, like the monks from fifteen hundred years ago.

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49 Responses to Over the Tipping Point

  1. James says:

    Foundation!

  2. joeclark77 says:

    Devin, do you have a more comprehensive list, or do you know of any kind of social network or mailing list that connects people who are interested in this sort of life? I find the idea of homesteading very attractive and I think that my family and I may do this eventually (although I think God has some things he wants me to finish here in the city first). However, the idea of moving to an arid southern state or a densely-populated one like NC doesn’t appeal to me much. I’d really like to know about anyone doing this sort of homesteading in the northern states or even Canada. (Incidentally I recently heard that some of the Amish are setting up communities in far northern Maine, and I had been thinking about that area myself. Some of the towns up there are french-speaking and Catholic due to proximity to Quebec.)

    • Devin Rose says:

      Joe, I know of no central place collecting such information, though Kevin Ford at the Catholic Land Movement (http://www.thecatholiclandmovement.org/) might have a list as he is setting up a newsletter for people interested in this idea.

      There are very few Catholic groups doing this. A good contact for Canada ones might be the Madonna house in Combermere (http://www.madonnahouse.org/ourlady/index.html). They are sort of like a religious community.

      What we’ve found is: look for the faithful, dynamic young religious communities and people are starting to congregate around them. For example, we also considered living near the Benedictines of Mary, Queen of the Apostles in the midwest: http://benedictinesofmary.org/. They are nuns. They told us that many families are moving out and buying land around their new priory location.

      Hope that helps. We have just found these places by trial and error.

    • Jonathan Brumley says:

      Joe, you could easily move to eastern Ohio or western Pennsylvania where the Amish and Mennonites are already doing this. The advantage would be a self-sustaining community, but you might want to convince some more Catholics to join you.

      • joeclark77 says:

        That still seems kind of “southern” to me. I’m thinking, if not northern Maine, maybe somewhere in Montana or the Dakotas, where they have clean air and wilderness. Maybe Alaska… but can you grow anything there? Maybe Canada. I have heard that there are Catholic communities in Wyoming, never been there, but that might be a possibility…

  3. Augustine says:

    To think that the US was ever rooted in natural law and understood the order of truths is naive, at best, yet false nevertheless. But I digress.

    Indeed, we have been living in the dark ages for over a century, but only in the last few decades has the world tipped beyond the point of no return. Among the many wickednesses though, the worst of them assures its purging too: the culture of death has brought populational decline of the wicked. In a couple of generations, or by the second half of the century, their numbers will be decimated and then geometrically so through this century.

    Even the US the overall figure of 2.1 children per woman is misguiding. The fertility rate among American citizens is just 1.6 child per woman, well below the historical point of no return, 1.9, even if above the mathematical point of no return, 1.3. Its immigrants who make up the difference, with Latinos having in average 3 children per woman. So, by the end of this century, the WASP culture will be dead and America will be Catholic and will speak Spanish, a dialect of Latin. And America will finally have a cuisine worth its name! ;-)

    PS: I found this course in Latin that seems to use the same method as the school where I learned English: http://www.hieronymus.us.com/Venalia/IndEngl.htm

    • Devin Rose says:

      Augustine, you are right about our country’s birth rate, etc. Will be interesting to see how this goes.

    • Ted Seeber says:

      By 2100 this will end.

      Most of us won’t live to see it. But the liberal pro-death lifestyle isn’t sustainable- and we’ll be losing 8% of the world’s population *every year* for 20 years starting in 2055.

      The Church will survive and return. The rest? Well, by then maybe they’ll be detecting liberalism and homosexuality in the womb, and non-believing right thinking parents will do the obvious.

  4. KimV says:

    With all due respect, Devin, I wonder if “fleeing to the fields” is really what most in Christ’s Church are called to do in terms of evangelization. This is what the Amish and Mennonites have done – and while they may have protected themselves and fortified their way of life to some degree – they have no impact on the culture or world at large. And so many of their children end up leaving that way of life forever because they feel so cut off and sheltered. How can we be lights to the world if we only keep that light for ourselves and those who already believe what we do?

  5. Clayton says:

    There are a lot of people I know from ALL walks of life that see this method of banding together as the best option for getting through what appears to getting ready to happen. My family’s first priest (we came Home almost 6 years ago), himself a convert, was absolutely convinced that we as a civilization would soon see a repeat of the AD 400-800 period. I came across this quote yesterday: “The worst part about living during the era of decline of a great civilization is knowing that you are” – Robert Heinlein.

    My comfort is that knowing that Church has not only survived, but even thrived in such times before. I guess that it is time to read “The Clowns of God” again.

  6. Great post.

    Yes, we have gone over. We are now ‘the land of the fleeced and the home of the tame’.

    But we do keep fighting, all the while recognizing that we put no hope in this world. If we do hope in this world, we are as St. Paul said, “the most to be pitied.”

  7. Nice stuff Devin. And I also loved Taylor’s post. He justr comes out and says it like it is. And it really is much simpler than we often make it: Have babies and teach them the faith. If we do this, we cant co wrong.

  8. I live in an area where it it’s very possible to do the homesteading thing, and I have friends that do that (and would love for us to do it with them), but I don’t think I can handle that kind of life.

    I think the essential thing is not the agrarian sort of lifestyle, but the community. City or country, the faithful need to be living in some sort of community, sharing their lives somehow, even if it’s through regular prayer meetings or lay movements or something.

    • Excellent comments.

      It’s not so much where…but how.

    • Devin Rose says:

      Agreed Brian. I focus on the agrarian side because I think that is the best way. But it is not practical for everyone. Living in the cities is tough because it’s hard to live close to others. Instead you live 15 or 20 minutes away from them and only see them for play dates and maybe school functions. Yet, it could be done if people wanted it enough. Also, several friends have done the next best thing: bought houses in the same neighborhood as our (awesome) parish.

  9. Henry Parker says:

    I disagree, I think it’s time for a reinvention instead. Young people are turned off to the Church because the Church does a terrible job explaining core Catholic principles.

    Gay marriage is a great example. Rather than just saying that gays should be prosecuted under the law from forming a union because it’s disordered, Catholics need hard evidence (studies) which demonstrates the deficiencies of such a lifestyle (should they exist).

    Furthermore, Catholics need to have hard data that children raised by homosexuals are disordered in some way to bolster their argument. If you don’t have that, then you don’t have any reason-teeth in your argument, and the young people will laugh at you.

    Furthermore, any argument in which you use Latin should be stricken from use. Using Latin makes it seem like you’re just trying to add a thick layer of mysticism to your point, instead of reason.

    Abortion is another area where Catholics fail to make their point. They fall on bible verses which have no use, since most Americans reject the Bible as God-inspired. They make emotional pleas saying things like, “You’re taking a life”, or, “The heart stops beating”. Rather, to have an effective argument, you need to firmly establish that the conceptus is in fact (1) human, and (2) alive. You do this using biological fact. Only after people agree on that can we have a decent conversation about abortion.

    So, your idea is to flee to the hills. My idea is to start having reasonable explanations not based on faith on why we believe what we believe. You can’t convince a person who hasn’t already been indoctrinated from youth on matters on faith. You need reason, and data.

    • Devin Rose says:

      Henry,

      Welcome to my blog. Thanks for your comment.

      I agree with you that we need to be better about explaining, defending, and arguing for our beliefs. They are all defensible from natural law and reason, even without divine revelation. Catholics argue from these sounds bases all the time, but 1) not enough of us do that, and 2) arguments require people to be interested in arguments and reason.

      Ironically it is the pro-abortion and pro-same-sex “marriage” people that rely on emotion: “I feel strongly that a woman has a right to control her own body.” Well, that’s nice, but any 8th grade science text will tell you that a new species of homo sapiens comes into being when the sperm fertilizes the egg (conception). The most powerful question you can ask a pro-choice person is when human life begins. They will not have a good answer, because there is none. They will hand-wave, and any assertion they make can be demolished with science alone.

      Flee to the fields is to build a community from which to launch from, from which to evangelize. It doesn’t mean isolationism. I should have been clearer on that as it definitely implies that inference.

      Here’s an argument for civil marriage first from natural law: http://www.calledtocommunion.com/2012/05/two-questions-about-marriage-and-the-civil-law/

      And Mark Regnerus’ study is data about outcomes of children from homes that had same-sex parents. People hated it, for emotional reasons. But his methodology was sound.

  10. Jeanne G. says:

    This sounds great to me but it is my husband’s idea of hell. What about those of us who are “city folks” and people whose skills trend toward office work rather than manual labor? There has to be a way to be in the world but not of it.

    • Devin Rose says:

      Jeanne, I think city folks could band together too, but it is harder because it is hard to live close to each other in the city. You have to make a big effort to buy houses close together. Otherwise you are 20 minutes away from someone and you don’t really have a community just play dates and weekend visits.

  11. Ged Roman says:

    Devin,

    I enjoyed your article. I share your sentiments. I feel as though I’m in a bus and the majority of the people are intransigently choosing to have drivers who are driving us to a very, very bad place. It’s been going on since before I was born, but it’s hitting a climax. It seems I can’t do much about it. I find myself wondering if I (and wife, and new-born daughter) should begin to plan to “jump” out of the bus and attempt to go elsewhere (Malta maybe?) being that it is against our choice to go where the bus is going, but the majority of the passenger have simply “lost it”. I suppose prayer and trust in God are the best answers, after all, our early brethren gave us beautiful and heroic examples despite the facts that they were in pretty rotten and bloody societies. Our very blessed Lord is the 1st example of this.

    Anyway, once you estalish your village, let me know if you need someone to play music and sing to entertain the residents :-) I’m also pretty accomplished with several areas of construction (plumbing, electrical work, HVAC…) – Who knows, we may join you since we’d like to move somewhere warmer than Wisconsin.

    Agnus Dei qui tollis peccata mundi miserere nobis!

    Ged Roman

    • Devin Rose says:

      Ged, appreciated your facebook friend request. I do think our country is the best one to live in, given the opportunities we have. We’ll need your troubadour talents and fix-it skills on the homestead!

  12. Andrew says:

    This post is very timely! I was just having this conversation with a close friend of mine here in Virginia. We’re praying for guidance and clarity on where The Lord is calling our families during these times.

    Aside from the moral/cultural wasteland we find ourselves in (which I agree, we are still called to evangelize) I find myself very concerned for the economic state of the world as well…….because of the medias attempts to convince us sheep that “things are just fine”…..I have an overwhelming feeling that things aren’t.

    We can’t continue in this debt, especially as we see Europe collapse, country by country, and as the Middle East becomes more volatile…….I have peace knowing Who is in charge in the end….but I feel that things are going to get “tossed up” a bit…..and this country (although I don’t expect some sort of doomsday) won’t be the same one that we knew in 2012…..

    Again, very hopeful in Our Lord….not so hopeful in the economic comforts that we currently live in.

    • Devin Rose says:

      Yes the economy will get worse unless we reverse course and reduce the deficit. However the President/Dems and the Republicans will likely not agree on how to do that, resulting in it not happening.

      • Augustine says:

        Oh, no, the Reps and Dems will agree on how to deal with the deficit: papering over it and kicking the can down the road. They might just put on a show about which wallpaper design to use and about how to kick the can.

  13. Dave says:

    Devin,
    I have had EXACTLY the same thoughts (buying a parcel of land and then chopping off sub-parcels when people want to come.) I am in a northern area, for someone who mentioned that earlier, though I’m not entirely convinced that I’ll stay here.

    I think that Devin’s idea of the agrarian lifestyle is better because it is sustainable, and I believe, closer to nature and thus closer to the way God wants us to live. However, any community is a good community. Find a good parish with a history of good priests, a good religious order, etc. and start buying houses around it.

    Such a community can become a powerful, evangelizing presence in itself, though outreach would surely be done. It’s not a call to isolation. Our parishes themselves need to become evangelizing/formation centers. Obviously, many Catholics have very little idea of what it means to be a Catholic.

    Interesting books to read right about now:

    * “Forming Intentional Disciples”
    * “Flee to the Fields”
    * “A Canticle to Leibowitz”

  14. Nick says:

    If I may, I’d say these kinds of posts are becoming more and more frequent on blogs today, and they really reflect something deeper: more and more Catholics today are distancing themselves from the Enlightenment principles that are the bedrock of our entire society, and they’re upset and fed up with this unholy marriage that Catholicism has been in for about a century now. The near unanimous conclusion of every Catholic using common sense is, “The Enlightenment was not from God; let’s have nothing to do with it.”

  15. Edward says:

    This really strikes a chord with me. We’ve just had our first kid (Deo gratias!), and I hate the idea of his growing up in the moral cesspit that the West has become. The 1960s experiment has failed, and (based on present direction of travel) it’s going to destroy our civilisation. I want out, and the thought of a community of this kind, centred around the Mass and worship of God, is immensely appealing.

    My wife doesn’t (yet?) see things in this way. She says we should flower as much as we can, where we are at this moment. I see her point, and agree to an extent. We’re also only recent converts, and she hasn’t yet adopted the Catholic way of thinking in the way that I have. I think, when discussing this idea with her in the past, I’ve presented it too much as a ‘move 100 miles from the nearest neighbour’ homesteading thing. I’ve also focussed too much on the negative aspects of it (‘escaping the cesspit’, etc). I now see it’s better to start with the positive aspects of God and neighbour. Agrarianism/distributism flow from that, rather than vice-versa.

    Does anybody have advice on how to gently persuade a reluctant wife that we should at least think about this? At the moment it just seems so off-the-wall to her.

    • Katie says:

      Dear Edward,

      I have advice. I am Devin’s wife and felt just like your wife a few years ago–move to the country, where there is no coffee shop and where my neighbors don’t use proper grammar? :) Assure your wife that you want to make her happy and lay off for a while. In addition, focus on the joy-filled abundant-life aspect of agrarian living. And, finally, supply her with anecdotal fun farming books about successful farmers, books like “Apostolic Farming” and “Russian Yesterdays” and “You Can Farm”, as well as classics like the Little House series and Anne of Green Gables.

      God bless you, as you seek to please the Father of all good gifts.

      Grace and peace,

      Katie

  16. Brantly says:

    I too resound with what you’ve written here Devin, as well as what many commentors have echoed. I’ve thought the same thing for a few years now. And I know of several Catholics here in Minnesota who have said the same thing. I know specifically of at least one man who has said he’d move his family out to the country right away if he could get a few other Catholic families to agree to do it with him and his family. I think we’d do it now if (a) I wasn’t still pursing my education and, connected to that, (b) if we had a way to support ourselves in the long wrong.

    I think a key part that you’ve already said is that it’s not isolationism or Luddism. We’d still interact with the world and make prudent use of technology (so we’d be different than, e.g., the Amish). I don’t think the Christian life requires life in a city! And rural living has many advantages, as has been already said in your piece and in the comments (closer to nature, space, etc).

    Another I would possibly add, given the continued rise of aggressive secularism, is safety. I hope things remain safe. But nature has been thrown out, and as a result, we have no shared foundation from which to even begin to debate the culture wars. With reason gone, the only thing left is power, and power struggles often end in violence. I’ve started to wonder if I should try to move my family out to the country while we still can (in addition to all the other positive reasons for rural living even if there was no threat). What do you think, Devin, am I way off base here?

    • Dave says:

      Brantly,
      Please E-mail me, and I’d like to talk to this other man you mentioned as well. I’m in Minnesota and considering the same thing.

      • Dave says:

        Whoops, I guess the comment system doesn’t show my E-mail. You can E-mail me at the website here, on the contact page. God bless!

      • I live in Minnesota just a town over from Brantley, but like him, there are issues that prevent me from doing this. I have come to the conclusion that for it to work on a massive scale it cannot be grassroots. There needs to be more solidarity along with the subsidiarity… if that makes sense. The original Catholic Land Movement had a lot of hierarchical organization and had actual Church involvement. Without that, most lay people who want to flee to the fields to live the simple country life will simply never be able to do it. I dont know if we need an actual Church-led apostolate, or what, but the masses of people in my situation will not/cannot leave the suburbs/city anytime soon unless they get a leg up, and unless they are being lifted into a known situation. It really is that simple. We need a Chesterton to be a bull in a china shop for us.

        • Dave says:

          David,
          Excellent comment…I, too, want to move to the country, and I can do it (no major issues preventing me from doing it), but the learning curve would be extremely painful and daunting. What I know is technology.

          What we need is some kind of training institute(s) and diocesan support. I know Kevin Ford wants to train people, but doesn’t have the wherewithal to do this on a large scale any time soon. Maybe Devin could do a post about this.

    • Devin Rose says:

      Brantly,

      Yes, I don’t mention safety, but it is another aspect of life outside of the city that is appealing. Fact is, our whole system is fragile, as was seen with Hurricane Sandy: fuel shortages, people pulling guns, power loss (my friend on Long Island is still without power even now).

      People in Spain and Greece have been protesting and rioting the “austerity” measures. Things can turn dangerous and ugly quickly. We learned this also when reading Immaculee’s book Left to Tell about the Rwandan genocide. They were urging their father to take them across the lake to the neighboring country, but he said “no, no, it will never get that bad.” Shortly thereafter, the genocide began; the way to the lake was blocked; and most of her family was murdered brutally. That ingrained in me the awareness to be ready at any time to get out and get my family to safety.

      God bless,
      Devin

  17. maria says:

    Devin, awesome post! Thank you! I have been feeling so discouraged since the election. I am so dissppointed in America. I live in a very liberal state and everyone here (except me)have voted for Obamare. I have recieved so much grief from a few family members. I feel very sad for the future of our country esp. the children. Ive been wondering, what are we suppossed to do now? My husband and I are open to life, but we are unable to have children (my fault) due to endometriosis not diagnosed until I was 41 and newly married. I have a devotion to the Blessed Mother and the rosary. Husband and I attrn

    • Devin Rose says:

      Hi Maria,

      So good to hear from you, as it always is. Keep praying and loving just the way God has for you. I don’t doubt he has a special way for y’all to love others that only you can give.

  18. maria says:

    My husband and I attend Mass at a lovely Franciscan Chapel near our home. We are third order Franciscans who would love to live in the country, have a small farm, live in a conservative Catholic community, and adopt some children. Devin, you and your family are in my thoughts and prayers!

  19. Maria says:

    PS. I think you should definitely write more e-books! Has Katie considered writing any e-books? Even though I have never met her, I think she is one of the sweetest and most genuine Catholic ladies I know. If she wrote some e-books, I would definitely buy them! I’d love to write some e-books myself (on how my husband and I met through the rosary, how teas and herbs are the answers NOT so much prescription drugs, and all natural remedies!), but I’m chicken!! Not sure how to publish online.

    prayrosary4life@gmail.com

    You are in my thoughts and prayers!

    Maria

  20. Pingback: Launch from the Fields : IgnitumToday

  21. Brianna says:

    Yes! This. I so enjoy reading your thoughts on agrarianism.

    I completely agree, and for a lot of reasons. Part of the problem in my opinion has been this idea that to evangelize the culture, we must adapt to their practices and way of living. It makes me think of Tim Keller’s vision that More Christians Need to Move to the Cities. This was actually a large part of our decision to live in Denver vs. one of the suburbs, or vs. a more rural area.

    So we have done it. We live in the city, and were part of an urban church downtown for three and a half years with this precise goal. Our church was, in fact, modeled after Keller’s church and ideals.

    But here’s the thing: it doesn’t necessarily work on a large scale. Non-Christians, often happy just the way they are, are not generally transformed by people who look just like them but spend an hour and a half every week at church with a bunch of other hipsters. Some of the problem of course is with the Protestant system in general, but even beyond that, I truly believe that the culture (or the city) has already actively rejected any sort of faith ethic. In GENERAL, much of society (or the city) wants nothing to do with Christianity. And now we see our precious Church in the crosshairs.

    All of this to say, how many of our ideas about evangelization have led, instead of conversions, to a lukewarm practice of our faith? Or to a generation of poorly formed children because we were so busy doing this or that, sometimes with very good intentions? In evangelizing and reaching people, it is not necessarily effective to just go be among them, or have them among you, and expect that things will somehow change.

    Personally I think that it is not so much about retreating from society like the Amish, but the setting of a strong foundation as we carry out our duties as parents. Perhaps if people of faith had been more committed to living quiet lives at home, dedicated to the proper raising of their children, amidst a strong faith community, the Church would be in a BETTER place to reach the culture.

    All of this to say that my thoughts on evangelism have shifted dramatically over the past few years. I’m more convinced than ever that our decision to homeschool is the right one, I’m so grateful for our parish, and we are very seriously considering moving out of the city and getting an acre or two. I don’t ever see us doing major farming, but now that we don’t attend church downtown anymore, there’s no proactive REASON to live in the city. And we believe that land and space are good for kids, and that being near to God’s creation is good for the soul. I love the idea of having a solid retreat from the world and also a place to practice hospitality and love.

    So yes, let’s all flee to the fields! :)

  22. Bobley says:

    why is the only apostolate with the full arpaovpl of the vatican not invited? Courage and Encourage? they promote understanding those dealing with Same sex attraction with love and compassion. Just as any other persons not in a sacramental marriage of a man and a woman we are all called to a life of chastity. Marriage is only marriage if it is open to live, if it vows permanence, fidelity.