Solidarity Healthshare and Catholic Culture

Our swords rusted long ago, and we didn't even know it
Our swords rusted long ago, and we didn’t even know it

Solidarity Healthshare, the nascent Catholic health-sharing apostolate, seems to have dropped off the face of the planet.

Their domain is now up for grabs, according to GoDaddy, and I cannot find any current information on them. So until I hear otherwise from the man I had correspondence with early on about it, I have to assume that the effort was not able to get off the ground.

Update 2/12/2013: Solidarity is still working on launching. They have not given up, even though their domain expired. See this hopeful comment.

I’m disappointed, but not surprised, if that is indeed the case. Because we as Catholic Americans do not form a cohesive group. We aren’t in solidarity with each other. Instead, we more or less reflect the broader secular culture.

One reason that Samaritan and MediShare–two Protestant healthsharing organizations–have been able to work is that Evangelical Protestants form a more homogeneous group, one that is willing to band together and practice a model of caring for each other’s health care needs that reflects in a small way what we read the early Christians did in some of the New Testament books.

Our country is a civilization that no longer has a true culture. And we Catholics are in part to blame for that, because we have largely ceded our culture, built on the Catholic Faith, to the secular way of living. The popular Orthodox writer David Bentley Hart had a great quote a few years back (hat tip to David Meyer for this one):

This is why, as I say, I am not convinced that we are in any very meaningful sense in the midst of a “culture war”; I think it might at best be described as a fracas….most of us have already unconsciously surrendered to the more insidious aspects of modernity long before we even contemplate drawing our swords from their scabbards and inspecting them for rust. This is not to say that there are no practical measures for those who wish in earnest for the battle to be joined: homeschooling or private “trivium” academies; the disposal or locking away of televisions; prohibitions on video games and popular music; Greek and Latin; great books; remote places; archaic enthusiasms.

It is generally wise to seek to be separate, to be in the world but not of it, to be no more engaged with modernity than were the ancient Christians with the culture of pagan antiquity; and wise also to cultivate in our hearts a generous hatred toward the secular order, and a charitable contempt.

One way in which this can happen is by fostering an agrarian life and “opting out” from the trappings of the secular world as much as possible. Note I didn’t say isolating ourselves, or bunkering in, or leaving the world for utopian bliss in the country, but rather leaving the trappings of society, being in the world but not of it.

Kevin Ford of the Catholic Land Movement elaborates on this idea. True culture stems from a community, most especially Christ’s Church and her members, who are joined together by God in faith, hope, and love. But because we Catholics have lived no differently than the secular society, we do not really form a culture in any meaningful sense of the word. So even though the spiritual reality is that we form one Body in Christ–the communion of saints–the earthly reality falls far short of that.

Catholics are doing their best to find a way to live in the cities and join together, for instance by moving close to a vibrant parish. I will say I think this is a noble effort, and for most families the best thing they can do, at least at the current moment in our history.

But I think our country, and the West as a whole, needs something more radical, and that is one important reason we hope to move out to a more rural area and live a simpler life. My family is choosing to live in this different way; it is possible that people will be forced to do so in the next generation or so. If that were to happen, our homestead and others like it would be the new arks of culture, carrying the light through the growing Dark Age as it blotted out the sun and swept over the West. Sounds dramatic, and maybe it will be.

Even if it does not happen in that way, I am convinced that a simpler life, with some land and animals, is a better way to live in any case. I long to give my children the gift of having meaningful work on the homestead: milking the cow, making cheese, moving the chickens, gathering the eggs, digging the pond, harvesting the honey from the bees, shearing the sheep, and a thousand other things that really contribute to our family’s livelihood.

One problem currently is that there are so few of us Catholics wanting to live this way, that we are scattered sparsely across the country. We are not in solidarity with one another. We need more people to want to do this. That will either happen gradually or quickly if a crisis occurs.

My advice: don’t wait for the crisis. Consider living in this new way now!

21 thoughts on “Solidarity Healthshare and Catholic Culture”

  1. I also wish to live the life that you had laid out here on your post. I have this feeling that our modern civilization is on the decline. Few decades more and the collapse will be more rapid. The current economic system is unsustainable. The blame for this is the change of attitude in building a family.

    Many people don’t want to have children and thus the world population is in a decline. The result of this is dwindling business (because fewer and fewer people will buy merchandise) and the collapse of the social security system (because fewer and fewer people will support it). Dwindling business = job cuts = more people without a job.

    That’s why I think that it more reasonable to go back to the land. To plant our own crops. To create a closely-knit community that support one another. To foster subsidiarity.

    The future is bleak for the coming generations. Those who will survive are those who have parents that “returned to the land” before the collapse of current economic system.

  2. I’m not sure all this “separateness” is really the true Catholic way. My fallible understanding is that we are to be in the world but not of it. I am posting a quote from Pius XI’s encyclical Divini Illius Magistri, which discusses Christian Education:

    “92. This necessary vigilance does not demand that young people be removed from the society in which they must live and save their souls; but that today more than ever they should be forewarned and forearmed as Christians against the seductions and the errors of the world, which, as Holy Writ admonishes us, is all “concupiscence of the flesh, concupiscence of the eyes and pride of life.”[61] Let them be what Tertullian wrote of the first Christians, and what Christians of all times ought to be, “sharers in the possession of the world, not of its error.”[62] “

    1. A Mom,

      Yes in the post I said this: “One way in which this can happen is by fostering an agrarian life and “opting out” from the trappings of the secular world as much as possible. Note I didn’t say isolating ourselves, or bunkering in, or leaving the world for utopian bliss in the country, but rather leaving the trappings of society, being in the world but not of it.”

      The question is one of prudence: do we put our children into sports and schools which are basically pagan? Where they are influenced to become pagans (and often do, in spite of our efforts to raise them in the Faith)? Etc.

  3. That is disappointing news about Solidarity Health Care. Thanks for posting about it again, I had wondered what was going on there but hadn’t checked into it.

    I think the Catholics that are doing the best job of living in some sort of community are the ones locating themselves near orthodox parishes in cities and the suburbs. The rural folks are too spread out to be living in any sort of solidarity together… With the exception of the few rural enclaves that have been intentionally created. But it seems like they can have their own wierdnessess and baggage (Caritas in Alabama, for example). It seems difficult to have a rural community living in close proximity without becoming, well, cultish, for lack of a better term.

    I sometimes wonder if the best living situation for people is in groups of, say, 30-50 households in regular contact and held together by common desires and goals. Each having some space for chickens and animals and such, but not so much that they have to travel more than 10 minutes or so to get to the center. It seems like the smaller the number of households, the more you want everyone to be exactly like you and the more likely you are to become an echo chamber and to run off the rails.

  4. “I am convinced that a simpler life, with some land and animals, is a better way to live in any case. I long to give my children the gift of having meaningful work on the homestead: milking the cow, making cheese, moving the chickens, gathering the eggs, digging the pond, harvesting the honey from the bees, shearing the sheep, and a thousand other things that really contribute to our family’s livelihood.”

    I agree with every word you said here. The problem: I was raised in a suburban home, trained in a math/science background, and basically jumping into this lifestyle would be as alien to me as if I suddenly was told I was chosen to be part of a NASA mission to Mars. Bluntly, the learning curve is extremely daunting. I am trying to start beekeeping and gardening, but I’m not sure how far I’ll get. I’m hoping Kevin’s training program will get off the ground.

    1. Dave, ditto. I have the same background. So I’m taking things one step at a time: try to raise chickens, try to raise small garden, try goats, try bees, see what I like/what I’m good at doing/what I can learn and go from there.

  5. Lately I’ve been reconsidering the typical notion that Catholics must engage the culture. Not that I reject this notion in principle, but that of an unqualified and unconditional engagement at any time.

    Much like Hart implied, this engagement doesn’t seem to have made any dent on secularism. For sure, in some pockets it has yielded much fruit, but the surrounding secularistic culture remains as strong as ever.

    The fact is that Catholicism has been on betraying herselg for decades, engaging a wolf as sheep, and many of us have been devoured. I think that it was because the flock was abandoned by its shepherds, who behaved as irresponsible hirelings, and it was an easy prey for the wolves. This gave rise to the “Leave it to Beaver” flavor of Catholicism which assumes that the wolves are actually willing to listen to a reasoned argument and have a teachable attitude. Nothing could be further from the truth.

    The fact is that the world is ready for, in this decade, to imprison Catholics who defy secularism, even if only in their restricted circle of activity. Any further failure to suspend disbelief that, just because a lousy Catholic was elected president fifty years ago, America is friendly to the Church now is going to be fatal. If anything, because the world chose a lousy Catholic, we should continue to reject the world.

    And if the Church has to regroup in order to leaven the world by first of all being true to herself, so be it. The idea of lighting a candle in the darkness only benefits those in the same room, for the night continues dark.

    The great commission of the Church is not to adapt to the culture, but to adapt the culture; it is not the place of the Church to become relevant to the world, but to make the world ready to receive her Lord.

    1. Augustine,

      Lately I’ve been reconsidering the typical notion that Catholics must engage the culture. Not that I reject this notion in principle, but that of an unqualified and unconditional engagement at any time.

      Exactly. Me, too.

  6. If you don’t have the money to buy a farm and get away, at least opt to home school your children and get them out of the hands of those who would lead them down the path of destruction.

    Sincerely,

    De Maria

    1. Good News!

      While Cardinal Dolan and Archpishop Lori have sounded the alarm on the immorality of keeping our old health insurance under the new system, Pope Benedict XVI has given us two very good options:
      (1) Collaborate with one of the three Protestant health-sharing minsitries, or (2) Form our own “parish-based minsitries.”

      http://www.sosuchouki.blogspot.com/2013/02/i-will-not-leave-you-orphans-jn-1418.html

      If Solidarity HealthShare gets off the ground, it would fall under option (1).
      But we don’t have to wait for this to happen–please share this news.

  7. Fear not, my brethren! I spoke with Dr. John Oertl, co-founder (with Christopher Faddis) of Soldarity Healthshare several weeks ago after Mass at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Parish, Tempe AZ. After speaking with him for a while, I learned that Solidarity Health Share will launch approximately in the next 6 months. They are still working on all the logistics at this time. He referred me over to the following website http://www.chministries.org/ , for the meanwhile, as they will be using this same healthshare as the base for Solidarity Healthshare. After speaking with John, I can say that he is genuinely a follower of Christ, a faithful Catholic, soft spoken, and convicted to help the Church with this alternative. Keep in mind, with an initiative so large as this (the response was overwhelming), for this to work, every area of the Catholic healthshare has to be solid, there can be no room for error. We cannot rush the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, and how He implements His actions. So “Be Not Afraid” my brethren. Let’s be patient and let John and Chris follow the Holy Spirit’s lead on this one.

    Peace of Christ and the Mother of God be with you.

    1. Jim,

      This is great news! I am thrilled to hear it and will check out the new site. It makes total sense for them to be painstakingly careful about the logistics and setup, as getting it off the ground is the hardest part I imagine.

      I do wish they had not let their domain expire. It made it seem as if they were no longer trying to launch it.

      God bless!
      Devin

    2. I am already a member of Christian Healthchare Minsitries. I’m not sure how long it will take for Solidarity to become a subdivision of CHM, but I’m sure that it would be an easy transition–all they would need is a second “Member’s Escrow” account. If you find my blog helpful, please consider supporting me with an automatic bonus by telling CHM that I referred you, when you sign up (My member ID is 156332). May God bless you this Lent, as you explore this rewarding form of alms-giving.

  8. I don’t know if you have the guts to publish this.

    You say so much here, I think it wise for me to comment on one or two points only, but if you like we can widen our dialog.

    I watched your remake of the video “Downfall.” Except you omitted some critical facts, that the Catholic’s (Catholic’s such as the Pope,) HELPED Hitler, they weren’t against him, they collaborated with the Nazi war machine in an effort to exterminate the Jews of Europe.

    And something else too… In you video, you paint Pope Benedict as a man who has worked against Nazi’s. Come on now!, surely you know that as a young man he registered as a Nazi and was a soldier for Austria. In other words your remarks are exactly opposite the truth.

    Please don’t regard me as anti-Catholic. I am was raised to be an atheist, but I became a born-again Christian, and all I am asking for is honesty.

    I have counseled a few Catholics, I was stunned to discover that each of the three people I’ve counseled, each in their early 20’s now, two from American Catholic schools, one from a Canadian school, that NONE OF THEM, had read or knew of the promises God had made to Abraham, namely that he would love those who love the Jews, and that he would hate those who hate the Jews.

    This is pretty basic. Could you please explain what’s going on?

    1. Jules,

      The Catholic Church opposed Hitler and saved countless Jews. This has been immortalized in many accounts and recognized by the most prominent Jewish organizations. Now, the Church had to be careful, as at first when bishops made public condemnations of the Nazis, tens of thousands of Jews and others in their countries were taken to concentration camps in reprisal by the Nazis. So your assertions are false.

      Sure, as a youth he was enrolled into the army…just like everyone was. Not many teenagers have the ability to defy their entire country; do you think you would have fared better? Fact is he abandoned the Nazis as soon as he was able.

      Have some Catholics in the past mistreated Jewish people? Yes. That is shameful but it happened. It doesn’t follow, however, that the Catholic Church’s teachings are false because of that behavior. Should we love the Jews? Yes. Should we love all people? Yes. Should we invite them to believe in the gospel of Jesus Christ? Yes.

      God bless,
      Devin

  9. Devin,

    According to the world-famous journalist on all things from the Vatican, Todd Unctuous, Benedict XVI is not only is the last Nazi pope, but also the last one to wear Prada shoes (v. http://bit.ly/Z8UnOr ). I read it on the Internet and watched a documentary on the History Channel about it, so it’s all true.

    What’s going on?

  10. First, I know I didn’t say mild things, and I want to thank you for not simply discarding my note. Truth: That’s what I was expecting, but you’ve demonstrated actual character and I want to say “Thank you!”

    Do I think that the Pope and other business and political leaders in Europe (and some in the US, look at Ford,) were anti-semitic as WW2 was beginning?, yes. And if you google words like Pope, ww2, Jews, almost any combination of those words and others you will find a web reference that connects the death of European Jews with the Catholic church and, to a lesser degree, the Pope. If you don’t think this is true, take a moment and do this…

    Of course I don’t believe everything I read, especially on websites that discuss such topics as these, and I assume you are wise enough not to also.

    I’m going to try in these next few paragraphs not to offend you. I am trying to be effective for Jesus. And Jesus tells each of his kids not to target or attack other Christians.

    Here goes…

    The church is in trouble. In the US and around the world, whether you are a Catholic or a Protestant, the church isn’t functioning as well as it has in the past.

    I’m someone who believes we’re heading into the end-times. ie., the Holy Spirit will no longer be on earth and Jewish people will be mercilessly attacked and killed. And while the age begins with all genuine Christians being removed, even without the Holy Spirit, people will choose to become Christians, thus setting them up for terrible torment and death.

    Which will be the fate of the Jews, too.

    Please, just because I say these things, don’t think I am in favor of any of this. I’m not. And the only protection available to us is Christ, is becoming a Christian.

    Mr. Devin, I really meant what I just said about not offending you, and though I didn’t say it, about respecting you.

    If it happens that you want to tone down my remarks okay — all I’m really concerned about is helping people, Catholics, Protestants, everyone, realize how important it is for people to choose Christ. No waiting. Today.

    Notice, I haven’t said anything about why I think this is imminent (I don’t have a date,) but look at what just happened. The asteroid, the meteor shower hitting earth, two different celestial sources, completely unrelated, things that almost never get noticed, and suddenly now two events noticeably occur. Simultaneously.

    What was that about “signs and wonders?”

    Actually though this indicator is minor. In my next post I’ll get into Jeremiah 50 and 51. I guess my key point is that the Babylon Jeremiah wrote about isn’t in Iraq. It’s the United States.

    And we get destroyed. Which immediately makes things much more difficult for Israel.

    1. Jules,

      I invite you to read the work by Jewish historians who researched the papacy of Pius XII and were surprised by their findings, as they, like you, grew up being fed the same anti-Catholic propaganda spread out incessantly. I invite you to assess their conclusion at http://bit.ly/15omtJC

      But just consider this: the chief Rabbi of Rome converted to Catholicism after the war was over and took the Christian name Eugenio, after Pius XII. Mind you, guess where and who hid him as the Nazis were rounding up Jews in Rome (v. http://bit.ly/15onS37 )?

      Pax Christi.

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