"I expect to die in bed, my successor will die in prison and his successor will die a martyr in the public square. His successor will pick up the shards of a ruined society and slowly help rebuild civilization, as the church has done so often in human history." -Cardinal Francis George

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Homestead Consideration: Homeschool Laws

Screen capture fromthe Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) website 2/28/12

In considering where to locate a homestead, I think a locations lack of intrusive regulations aimed at homeschooling is a key consideration. Even if you don't homeschool but use a good private school, will you always? Will your children? What if the school closes? What if you don't live close enough? If a government starts down the road of worrying about homeschoolers, you have a problem government, and chances are very good that they are overly intrusive in other areas as well.

I know in my state of Minnesota this is the case. Until recently, Minnesota was in red on the HSLDA homeschool freedom map. As parents without bachelors degrees, my wife and I were required to fill out forms each year informing the superintendent of our intent to homeschool, fill out quarterly report cards and submit them, and to do testing. There was even some insane language about home visits by state officials in the law. It was an egregious and unacceptable infringement on our rights as parents. Thankfully, those laws were recently improved so as to be more friendly to homeschoolers, but I am not fooled. Minnesota is a very liberal state, and I can easily see them taking one step forward and 2 steps back with homeschoolers.
So as far as Minnesota is considered for a future homestead, overall it fails. It has once gone down the path to the Dark Side of state over-reach, and I think it cannot be trusted. To be considered a good state for a homestead, it would need to really excel in other areas. The main thing is to have this in mind and to be deliberate. Even parents using a good Catholic school should have this one high on their list.

As far as the above map goes, I would consider the red states to be totally off limits, and most of the orange to be off limits to thoughtful homesteaders. But states do change for better or worse. Wisconsin, where I homeschooled myself through high school, was a green state a few years ago and sadly now it is yellow. And would it shock us if they went orange or red in 15 years? On the other hand I have always heard great things about Texas and Alaska, and I would be surprised if they changed from green to orange. Both states have a reputation and a tradition of having an "independent spirit". This is a key point. For some reason Big Brother still has a nostalgic forgiveness for places and groups that have roots. Texas, Alaska, and the Amish are good examples. They often get a "pass" for saying and doing things just because. The Amish in Pennsylvania (a Nazi-like Red state for homeschoolers) have almost zero regulations on their schools. If I were to move to Pennsylvania, you can bet I would get no such treatment for my homeschool. People just give the Amish a pass for whatever reason. I think getting into some of those situations or areas where that type of preferred treatment is a possibility is a very good idea. We need to seriously consider the possibility of a future in which there are national laws restricting homeschooling and how we can position ourselves like the Amish have so as to be "exempt" from the whims of Big Brother. And for that reason, a place like Texas gets extra points.

Click on the link below the map an explore particular states. It is very revealing.

UPDATE: Oklahoma seems to be pretty good. From the HSLDA website:
"Oklahoma is the only state with a constitutional provision guaranteeing the right to home school.

Section 4, Art. 13 of the Constitution of Oklahoma guarantees the home school exemption by stating that
the legislature “shall” provide for the “compulsory attendance at some public or other school, unless other means of education are provided of all children in the State who are sound in mind and body, between the ages of eight and sixteen, for at least three months each year.”

Friday, February 24, 2012

Location Considerations for a Homestead

Off the top of my head, and in no defined order as of yet, these are some things I thought of as serious considerations for where to look for an area to start a homestead. Not that I am doing any such thing next month, but gathering information is always a good idea. And hey, a guy can dream, right? So if you have any thoughts, whether new items or elaborations of current items, please comment and I will update the list!

1. Proximity to sacraments.

2. Proximity to a Catholic community that is traditional, and therefore less likely to change over time from a new priest, etc. Devin suggests: "Ideally a monastery or convent is close by that is a new evangelization/orthodox/traditional community."

3. Proximity to like minded families.

4. Close to a city large enough to support some selling of domestically produced products. (Salatin recommended within 40 miles of a city of 25,000 or more. So ideally, it would seem an area in the center of a 40 mile radius circle of 2 or more such cities on the perimeter would be perfect.)

5. Far enough away from metropolitan zones (starting at 50,000+ population) to be immune to urban sprawl. No closer than 60 miles from the center of a 0.5 Million+ metro area, perhaps adding ~10 miles for each additional 0.5 Million.

6. State or foreign country with liberal homeschooling laws that is likely to remain such.

7. State or foreign country with liberal agriculture laws that is likely to remain such.

8. Large variety of production types possible from the land.

9. Diversity of landscapes. Pasture, woods, water, hills.

10. Water --preferably rain fall that is over 35 inches annually. (From Devin)

11. A state that has a lower cost of living. Colorado and California are beautiful but everyone wants to live there, so everything is expensive. (From Devin)

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Joel Salatin: Herald of the New Christendom

This is what the New Christendom looks like folks. Families living and working together in community with each other as stewards of creation. This is Distributism in action. I am fully convinced that if we are truly to return to a Christian culture, the majority of people need to be owners of productive property, and land is about as productive as property gets.
I particularly love what he says about getting to big: A large "factory" farm could not do what he does. Period. No amount of machines can do what he does. It takes bodies with brains. And bodies can only do so much, which means things can only get so big and still maintain the system as far as quality, and even viability. Sounds like a perfect way for a for a family to make a living.

Watch the short video below, and there will be more to come.

Friday, February 17, 2012

"Hard Saying" in Today's Mass Reading

The first mass reading for today is one of my favorites. Although it was not always.

The Apostle James distills the debate about faith and works  so well in his epistle, it is staggering. I remember as a Reformed Protestant having to sort of *wince* a bit at some of St. James' language. The book of James was full of what Protestants must call "hard sayings", which is another way of saying either "we dont like what it says", or "it doesn't fit in our interpretive paradigm, so let's shelve it".
Well, that's not good enough. And James calls you an "ignoramus" for doing so.
You believe that God is one. You do well. Even the demons believe that and tremble. Do you want proof, you ignoramus, that faith without works is useless?

Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered his son Isaac upon the altar?

You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by the works.Thus the Scripture was fulfilled that says, Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness, and he was called the friend of God.
See how a person is justified by works and not by faith alone. For just as a body without a spirit is dead,
so also faith without works is dead.
James apostolic smack down just reached out from the 1st century and slapped the Protestant cheek.

In Matthew 19 we also have a great proclamation of the gospel from Jesus. The rich young ruler asks what he must do to be saved -a question we all ask- and a question we all understand intimately. In my experience, Protestants discount or play down Jesus words here and/or disparage the rich young man for even asking what he must "do", as if he is trying to make it to heaven by his bootstraps. Or worse they relegate the passage to being a "hard saying" and flip ahead to Romans to cleanse the mental palate of such stumping statements by Jesus. But Christ is clearly telling this man that he must do certain things (works) to be saved. He is saying exactly what St. James (and St. Paul for that matter) would say: Only a living faith saves. A negative way to phrase that: "faith without works is dead". Or as St. Paul would say, a true faith is "faith working in love" (Gal. 5:6).

I think the fear of Protestants is that any talk of works *gasp!* will immediately devolve into a religion of "us seeking God" or a neglecting of God's grace. Or they may view faith and works as oil and water (respectively) in a glass: Pour more works in the glass and grace flows out. But I think the Catholic version of this analogy is that for the baptized Christian who has been washed in the Blood of Christ there is only oil (faith) in the glass and the entire glass gets miraculously bigger when we admit works into the scene. In this sense faith and works can be seen as one and the same thing.

Car and gas.
Lamp and oil.
Bread and yeast.

There is no antagonism between faith and works for Catholics. All is of grace, all is from God and for God. If I see myself doing a "good work", then praise God He has given me the grace to do that. The glory goes to Him.

And isn’t that "work" really another way of saying I have faith? According to James, Jesus and Paul it is!

The longer I am Catholic, the more I realize that the doctrine of sola fide is just dressed up antinomianism. And if you are a Protestant and don't know what that word means but you do know what legalism means, then you are probably an antinomian. As James would say, you are an ignoramus.

Monday, February 13, 2012

The Pain of Losing a Child

The following is a comment I left for online friend Brent Stubbs on a post he made about the loss of his child. I though I would share it here as well.

 Wasn't planning on crying this morning but you did it to me man. One of my family’s experiences was similar to yours. I will never forget how our joy turned to sorrow in the ultrasound room that day. Joy to see the baby, and then a growing dread as the ultrasound technician grew serious, and then said “the baby is not moving”.

My regret is that we did not think to recover the body for burial after the D and C. No one said anything, and we didn't even think about it. I wish our pastor or elders (Reformed at the time) had said something, but I don't blame them. I do think that couple of childbearing age need to hear these stories though. And they need to hear that they can keep the remains of their children.

Then a couple years later in 2010, on the morning of Divine Mercy Sunday, the unimaginable happened. We lost a child at 17 weeks. Still born. Delivering a baby you know is dead in the delivery room is very painful emotionally for the parents along with the physical pain of the mother that will not be soothed by the joy of new life. As I held little Jude in my hands for the first and last time and gave him the fatherly blessing I give his siblings before bed, I don't think I have ever felt such pain. I was in the conversion process at the time and called for a priest who performed a baptism (of desire), which I found out later was perhaps not the right thing to do, but mentally I was in no condition to think about theology. Perhaps God accepts the baptism as a sort of baptism of blood and forgives my and the priests ignorance.

I visit Jude’s grave often and pray. I consider him to be our family’s prayer warrior fighting the battle with his parents and 5 sisters from heaven.

And the crack in your heart, it will never heal. But I think those cracks let some extra grace in also. Yes the pain is there, and will flare up at unexpected moments, as I am sure the pain of Christ’s mother did for the rest of her life. But that pain is not for nothing.

One mercy I thank God for especially in this situation was that in my studying about Catholicism I had just learned about redemptive suffering. Then we lost Jude. I very well may not have been able to handle the situation without that knowledge that our sufferings were being used by Christ as we offered them in union with his sufferings on the cross. That doesn't take the pain away, oh no… but it at least allows for a much easier “fiat” to occur in one’s soul when one knows there is a true purpose for their suffering.

If I had still been a Reformed Presbyterian when we lost Jude, I don’t know if I would have come out of this furnace closer to God than when I went in.

May God bless our little ones who are now safely in the folds of Our Lady’s mantle, and may they pray for us with her.

Sorrowful Mother

"O all ye that pass by the way, attend, and see if there be any sorrow like to my sorrow". Lam. 1:12