Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Over the years we have met, corresponded with, read about, etc people who yearn for a Catholic community of 'like-minded' folks. You would hope that being Catholic and 'like-minded' were synonymous and that a local parish community would fit the bill. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. The Catholic Church in America (and very likely other places as well) has seen great upheaval in these past decades, with theological and philosophical factions, scandals, and the like. We can lay blame at numerous doorsteps, but I don't have time (and possibly not the knowledge) to cover them all.

Thus many (and this is particularly desired among agrarian-leaning Catholics, but not limited to this group) want to find/form/join a community of "like-minded" folks. However, the definition of 'like-minded' itself is often the downfall of such planned communities. Philosophical attitudes often arise from the culture one is raised in. And thus when you put together Northeasterners, Southerners, people of Anglo descent, Eastern European descent, Mediterranean descent, 1st generation Americans, 5th generation Americans, ...., middle-class descent, children of poverty, etc. (you get the picture) AND then you add in (even among faithful Catholics) Vatican II, Latin, Novus Ordo, etc. you have a cauldron ready to boil.

(Not to be nostalgic but) In past times more people were born, raised, married, raised a family and died in the same parish surrounded by family and extended family. The importance of this stability can not be ignored. (Of course the industrial revolution and centralization of power has helped destroy the overwhelmingly agrarian culture.) These folks shared faith, family and culture. All three have been damaged. Let's leave aside faith for a moment.

The melting of ethnic cultures over several generations produces no culture. What has taken the place of traditional culture is the Protestant/now secular culture that is America. This has been facilitated by wealth, but even more so by mobility-which may in part be because of the seeking of wealth, or the American dream.

It is funny that many today (and I speak specifically of those seeking 'community') want natural foods, but seek an unnatural community. For true community is based on the family and then the extended family, created by the intermarriage of local families who share faith and geographic and ethnic culture who remain in the community to make it grow.

If I want a Catholic community in Bethune, SC of like-minded folks, it will happen if my children stay in (or return to) Bethune with their families and bring their talents to bear in this community-and their children do the same.

Rural communities have suffered because the younger generation has left. But you can still see the remnants of community in most rural areas stronger than other places because few people move into dying rural towns-thus the people left have roots there.

And who am I to preach stability? My wife and I left the communities of our youth to seek a better job-the American dream. Now being wiser (but poorer) we can only hope that our children see the folly of mobility. (This is not to say that we are unhappy where we are; this is a wonderful area, just lacking a nearby Catholic Church. But we also realize that more geographic stability would benefit our country. See the web magazine Front Porch Republic for more on this topic.)

That is not to say everyone must follow the same cookie cutter. However, the majority would do better staying local. When we send our children off to college (a whole other can of worms), it should be so that they come back to our community with new knowledge and skills.

Oremus pro invicem!

1 comment:

Jim Dorchak said...

Lori and Jim Dorchak say:

Jim's parents sold their family farm so that they could retire and move to a big house on a mountain.

Lori's mom and dad got a divorce and sold their family farm in the process.

As a result neither of us has a home to go back to. In addition that is all that we have ever wanted in our married life was a farm to move to.

Unfortunately we could not afford the taxes or the mortgage on a farm in the USA.