Tuesday, November 10, 2009

An Interesting Observation

An Interesting Observation..... "Now before I attempt to flesh out the meanings Chesterton intends here, I want to note an important characteristic about conservative thought, properly understood. Conservatives reject—more properly, they fear—simplifications. Simplifications are usually a result of isolating something, tearing that something from the whole of which it is a part. Simplification is a form of abstraction." Ted V. McAllister

Saturday, October 3, 2009

With Gods help.

A brother became tired of his community and the behavior of others often annoyed him. He decided, “I will go off somewhere by myself. Then I will neither talk nor listen and shall be at peace. This anger I feel will depart.” He went out into the desert and made his home in a cave.

One day he placed a water jug he had filled on the ground. It rolled over, spilling its content. He filled it again and it fell over again. When this happened the third time, he became enraged, took hold of the jug and smashed it against the rocks.

Calming down, he realized that anger had mocked him. “Here I am by myself and anger has beaten me. I will return to the community. Wherever we live, we need to work at being patient with God’s help.

Get the rest of the story at http://fatherstephen.wordpress.com/2009/10/02/with-gods-help/

Thursday, August 27, 2009

The farm in late August

Hey, there is a man on the roof!

The happy St. Isidorian.

Organic veggies going to market.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Sam Francis once said...

Sam Francis once observed that, “A nation, or even a planet, that recognizes no god other than its belly will quickly start wallowing in the ignorance, crime, corruption, and avarice that today afflicts the United States, and it will find itself unable to free itself of them.”

Monday, August 10, 2009


And here I add a few words of caution:

The quiet presence of person we may know in prayer is not a public thing – it is an intimate matter of the heart and does not belong in the public converse of our lives (just as other intimate parts of our lives should remain intimate and not public). What you find in prayer should generally remain between yourself and your confessor. Even the little I have shared here is more than I would generally care to. Those who speak a great deal about spiritual experiences are either in delusion or far worse. They should be avoided as guides for daily living. They can be the source of great confusion and sadness.

From http://fatherstephen.wordpress.com/

Monday, August 3, 2009

comentary on the world we used to live in

A quote from an article titled "ASCETICISM: THE BRIDGE BETWEEN MARRIAGE AND MONASTICISM IN ORTHODOX SPIRITUALITY" from The Web site of the Parish of the Protection of the Holy Virgin Mary

1) First is the split between Church and culture in the West, a factor seriously underestimated by many Church leaders from the Old Country. Traditional Orthodox societies were, whatever their historical faults, basically normal and human. In traditional Christian societies, whether Semitic, Slavic, Greek or Celtic, Church and culture supported one another: priest, politician and parent all worked for the same things. Marriage and monasticism were organically united in a community whose lifeblood was the Divine Liturgy, whose lifestyle was traditional asceticism, whose ‘biorythmns’ were ordered by the cycle of Church services and whose national holidays and celebrations were the great annual Feasts of the Orthodox Church. But in contemporary Western society, American or European
this organic link between Church and culture has been severed at the root.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Alexandr Solzhenitsyn

A short but insightful quote from Alexandr Solzhenitsyn. It came to him during his time in the Gulag:

…. It was only when I lay there on rotting prison straw that I sensed within myself the first stirrings of good. Gradually it was disclosed to me that the line separating good and evil passes not through states, nor between classes, nor between political parties either, but right through every human heart, and through all human hearts. This line shifts. Inside us, it oscillates with the years. Even within hearts overwhelmed by evil, one small bridgehead of good is retained; and even in the best of all hearts, there remains a small corner of evil.

…. If only there were evil people somewhere insidiously committing evil deeds, and it were necessary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them. But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being. And who is willing to destroy a piece of his own heart?”

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Things are growing!

Seed beds.

Can you see the broccoli under the bug net.
Things are starting to grow!

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Monday, April 27, 2009

Alexander Solzhenitsyn re: the West

"How has this unfavorable relation of forces come about? How did the West decline from its triumphal march to its present sickness? Have there been fatal turns and losses of direction in its development? It does not seem so. The West kept advancing socially in accordance with its proclaimed intentions, with the help of brilliant technological progress. And all of a sudden it found itself in its present state of weakness.

This means that the mistake must be at the root, at the very basis of human thinking in the past centuries. I refer to the prevailing Western view of the world which was first born during the Renaissance and found its political expression from the period of the Enlightenment. It became the basis for government and social science and could be defined as rationalistic humanism or humanistic autonomy: the proclaimed and enforced autonomy of man from any higher force above him. It could also be called anthropocentricity, with man seen as the center of everything that exists.

The turn introduced by the Renaissance evidently was inevitable historically. The Middle Ages had come to a natural end by exhaustion, becoming an intolerable despotic repression of man’s physical nature in favor of the spiritual one. Then, however, we turned our backs upon the Spirit and embraced all that is material with excessive and unwarranted zeal. This new way of thinking, which had imposed on us its guidance, did not admit the existence of intrinsic evil in man nor did it see any higher task than the attainment of happiness on earth. It based modern Western civilization on the dangerous trend to worship man and his material needs. Everything beyond physical well-being and accumulation of material goods, all other human requirements and characteristics of a subtler and higher nature, were left outside the area of attention of state and social systems, as if human life did not have any superior sense. That provided access for evil, of which in our days there is a free and constant flow. Merely freedom does not in the least solve all the problems of human life and it even adds a number of new ones.

However, in early democracies, as in American democracy at the time of its birth, all individual human rights were granted because man is God’s creature. That is, freedom was given to the individual conditionally, in the assumption of his constant religious responsibility. Such was the heritage of the preceding thousand years. Two hundred or even fifty years ago, it would have seemed quite impossible, in America, that an individual could be granted boundless freedom simply for the satisfaction of his instincts or whims. Subsequently, however, all such limitations were discarded everywhere in the West; a total liberation occurred from the moral heritage of Christian centuries with their great reserves of mercy and sacrifice. State systems were becoming increasingly and totally materialistic. The West ended up by truly enforcing human rights, sometimes even excessively, but man’s sense of responsibility to God and society grew dimmer and dimmer. In the past decades, the legalistically selfish aspect of Western approach and thinking has reached its final dimension and the world wound up in a harsh spiritual crisis and a political impasse. All the glorified technological achievements of Progress, including the conquest of outer space, do not redeem the Twentieth century’s moral poverty which no one could imagine even as late as in the Nineteenth Century."

A quote from Alexander Solzhenitsyn to the Harvard graduates of 1978.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Monday, April 20, 2009

Spring time

The newest members of the St. Isidores crew. They are only a couple of hours old and kinda wobbly at the time of these pictures. God is amazing.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Before and After

Oops. I guess it is after and before. Anyway this will be our spring tooth harrow used for breaking uo loose sod and helping in leveling.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009


The first crop on St. Isidore's farm! The snow melted and look what was growing! Three rows of organic garlic.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

The Tyranny of Liberalism

The Tyranny of Liberalism James Kalb on the Ideology's Totalitarian Impulses

By Annamarie Adkins

NEW YORK, MARCH 27, 2009 (Zenit.org).- Liberals -- on both the Right and Left -- may posit that they favor freedom, reason and the well-being of ordinary people. But some critics believe that liberalism itself erodes the very institutions -- family, religion, local associations -- necessary to restrain its excesses.

One such liberal skeptic is attorney and writer James Kalb, who recently wrote a book entitled, "The Tyranny of Liberalism: Understanding and Overcoming Administered Freedom, Inquisitorial Tolerance, and Equality by Command" (ISI).

Kalb explained to ZENIT why he believes liberalism inevitably evolves into a form of soft totalitarianism, or a “dictatorship of relativism,” and why the Church is well positioned to be its preeminent foe.

Q: What is liberalism?

Kalb: We're so much in the middle of it that it's difficult to see it as a whole. You can look at it, though, as an expression of modern skepticism.

Skeptical doubts have led to a demand for knowledge based on impersonal observation and devoted to practical goals. Applied to the physical world, that demand has given us modern natural science.

Applied to life in society, it has led to a technological understanding of human affairs. If we limit ourselves to impersonal observations, we don't observe the good; we observe preferences and how to satisfy them. The result is a belief that the point of life is satisfying preferences.

On that view, the basic social issue is whose preferences get satisfied.

Liberalism answers that question by saying that all preferences are equal, so they all have an equal claim to satisfaction. Maximum equal satisfaction therefore becomes the rational ordering principle for life in society -- give everyone what he wants, as much and as equally as possible. In other words, give everybody maximum equal freedom.

Q: How can an ideology of freedom become tyrannical?

Kalb: Equal freedom is an open-ended standard that makes unlimited demands when taken seriously.

For example, it views non-liberal standards as oppressive, because they limit equal freedom. Liberal government wants to protect us from oppression, so it tries to eradicate those standards from more and more areas of life.

The attempt puts liberal government at odds with natural human tendencies. If the way someone acts seems odd to me, and I look at him strangely, that helps construct the social world he's forced to live in. He will find that oppressive. Liberal government can't accept that, so it eventually feels compelled to supervise all my attitudes about how people live and how I express them.

The end result is a comprehensive system of control over all human relations run by an expert elite responsible only to itself. That, of course, is tyranny.

Q: You argue that liberalism, especially its "advanced" form, corrupts and suppresses the traditional aspects of life that defined and kept Western society together for centuries such as religion, marriage, family and local community. How does it do that?

Kalb: Equal freedom isn't the highest standard in those areas of life. They have to do with love and loyalty toward something outside ourselves that defines who we are. That love and loyalty involve particular connections to particular people and their ways of life.

Such things cannot be the same for everyone. They create divisions and inequalities. They tell people they can't have things they want.

So equal freedom tells us traditional institutions have to be done away with as material factors in people's lives. They have to be debunked and their effects suppressed.

At bottom, liberalism says people have to be neutered to fit into a managed system of equal freedom. They have to be encouraged to devote themselves to satisfactions that don't interfere with the satisfactions of others.

In the end, the only permissible goals are career, consumption and various private pursuits and indulgences.

That doesn't leave much room for religion or for family or communal values. The only permissible public value is liberalism itself.

Q: How does mass media advance the cause of liberalism?

Kalb: The relationship is almost mechanical. It's one of the great strengths of liberalism.

Television and the Internet give us a world chopped up into interchangeable fragments.

To make that world comprehensible to journalists and viewers it has to be put in order in a simple way that can be understood quickly without regard to particularities.

That's impossible if complex distinctions and local habits are allowed to matter.

For that reason the mass media naturally favor a top-down managerial approach to social life with a bias toward sameness and equality -- in other words, something very much like contemporary liberalism.

To put it differently, the mass media prefer things to be discussed publicly and decided centrally based on a simple principle like equality. If that's done they can understand what's going on and what it all means.

Also, they themselves will serve an important function because they provide the forum for discussion and the information for decision. That situation naturally seems appropriate to them.

Q: What about the distinction between Anglo-American liberalism and continental liberalism, and their different models of secularism? Is it inaccurate to lump everything together under the heading of "liberalism"?

Kalb: The fundamental principle is the same, so the distinction can't be relied on.

In the English-speaking world the social order was traditionally less illiberal than on the continent.

King and state were less absolute, the Church had less independent authority, standing armies were out of favor, the aristocracy was less a separate caste, and the general outlook was more commercial and utilitarian.

Classical liberalism could be moderate and still get what it wanted.

Liberalism is progressive, though, so its demands keep growing. It eventually rejects all traditional ways as illiberal and becomes more and more radical.

For that reason state imposition of liberal norms has become at least as aggressive in Britain and Canada as on the continent.

The United States is still somewhat of an exception, but even among us aggressive forms of liberalism are gaining ground. They captured the academy, the elite bar and the media years ago, and they're steadily gaining ground among the people.

The international dizziness about President Obama and the violent reaction to the narrow victory of Proposition 8 concerning same-sex marriage in California show the direction things are going.

Q: Does rejecting "liberalism" mean rejecting freedom of conscience, political equality, free markets and other supposed benefits of "liberalism"?

Kalb: No. A society can still have those things to the extent they make sense. They just need to be subordinated, at least in principle, to a larger order defined by considerations like the good life.

The Church has noted, for example, that free markets are an excellent thing in many ways. They just aren't the highest thing. The same principle applies to other liberal ideals.

Q: Both Popes Pius IX and Leo XIII condemned liberalism, but it seems the Church has embraced it since the Second Vatican Council in its defense of democracy and human rights. The tone of Church social teaching has also focused more on influencing liberal institutions, and less on shaping individuals, families, and local communities. How does one account for this shift in the Church's attitude?

Kalb: The Church apparently decided modernity was here to stay. Liberal modernity looked better than fascist modernity or Bolshevik modernity.

It claimed to be a modest and tolerant approach to government that let culture and civil society develop in their own way. So the Church decided to accept and work within it.

Also, the development of the mass media and consumer society, and the growth of state education and industrial social organization generally, meant Catholics were more and more drawn into liberal ways of thinking. Hostility to liberalism became difficult to maintain within the Church.

The problem, though, is that liberal modernity is extremely critical and therefore intolerant. In order to cooperate with it you have to do things its way.

The recent, virulent attacks on Pope Benedict for many different reasons by the liberal elite illustrate that phenomenon perfectly.

For that reason, if there's going to be joint social action today, it inevitably focuses on extending liberal institutions rather than promoting local and traditional institutions like the family, which are intrinsically non-liberal. Many people in the Church have come to accept that.

Q: You argue that religion can be the unifying force that offers resistance to advanced liberalism, and that the Catholic Church is the spiritual organization most suited to that task. Why do you think so?

Kalb: To resist advanced liberalism you have to propose a definite social outlook based on goods beyond equal freedom and satisfaction.

A conception of transcendent goods won't stand up without a definite conception of the transcendent, which requires religion. And a religious view won't stand up in public life unless there's a definite way to resolve disputes about what it is.

You need the Pope.

Catholics have the Pope, and they also have other advantages like an emphasis on reason and natural law. As a Catholic, I'd add that they have the advantage of truth.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Spring time on the farm

Spring time has finally come to St. Isidore's Farm. Today we were spreading manure on the fields using a pair of oxen

Here comes Ricky and his team.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Friday, March 20, 2009

Spring Tooth Harrow

My next project is rebuilding a Spring Tooth Harrow that has more or less been dis-assembled. This is a picture of what one should look like.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Spring is coming!

Spring is coming! The last few days have been encouraging. Sunny with plus temperatures. This painting was done in the summer a few years ago. I yearn for those warm days! As an after thought I have to remember black fly season comes first. 

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

The Frozen Logger

The words and chords to a well loved song.

The Frozen Logger

James Stevens

C                                  G7
As I sat down one evening,
'Twas in a small caf e,
A forty year old waitress
   G7                                  C
To me these words did say:

I see that you're a logger,
And not a common bum,
For no one but a logger
Stirs coffee with his thumb.

I once had a logger lover,
There's none like him today.
If you poured whisky on it,
He'd eat a bail of hay.

He never shaved a whisker
Off of his horny hide;
He hammered in the bristles,
And bit them off inside.

My logger came to see me,
'Twas on a winter's day;
He held me in a fond embrace
That broke three vertebrae.

He kissed me when we parted
So hard it broke my jaw;
I couldn't speak to tell him
He forgot his mackinaw.

I saw my logger lover
Go stridin' through the snow,
A-goin' gaily homeward
At forty-eight below.

The weather tried to freeze him,
It did its very best;
At a hundred degrees below zero,
He buttoned up his vest.

It froze clear down to China,
It froze to the stars above;
At a thousand degrees below zero,
It froze my logger love.

They tried in vain to thaw him,
And if you believe it sir,
They made him into axe blades
To cut the Douglass Fir.

And so I lost my logger,
And to this cafe I've come,
And it's here I wait for someone
To stir coffee with his thumb.

Friday, February 13, 2009

February Farming

February farming is full of wind , snow and ice. It means cutting next years firewood. It means doing odd jobs that will not get done when spring comes. It means repairing tools and equipment for jobs ahead. It means keeping the fire going while making plans. Wondering all the while if the slower winter days can be appreciated for the lack of urgency that will come with the finer weather. St. Isidore... pray for us.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

the woods at St.Isidores Farm

Here is a short video of where I work. The farm is called St. Isidore's Farm. St.Isidore pray for us!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Saint Catherine Of Siena

Saint Catherine Of Siena's Prayer

O marvelous wonder of the Church, seraphic virgin, Saint Catherine, because of thine extraordinary virtue and the immense good which thou didst accomplish for the Church and society, thou art acclaimed and blessed by all people. O blessed Catherine, turn thy benign countenance towards me, who confident of thy powerful patronage call upon thee with all the ardor of affection and I beg thee to obtain by thy prayers the favors I so ardently desire (mention your request).

Thou wast a victim of charity, who in order to benefit thy neighbor obtained from God the most stupendous miracles and became the joy and the hope of all; thou canst not help but hear the prayers of those who fly to thy heart - that heart which thou didst receive from the Divine Redeemer in a celestial ecstasy.

O seraphic virgin, show once again proof of thy power and of thy flaming charity, so that thy name shall ever be blessed and exalted; grant that we, having experienced thy most efficacious intercession here on earth, may come one day to thank thee in Heaven and enjoy eternal happiness with thee. Amen.

I have a friend going to visit Italy and will be in Sienna. This prayer may be helpful in ensuring them a safe trip there and back.

On another note I would ask for your prayers on behalf of my brother Greg who was in a bicycling accident last week. He is recovering and is stable today.