Monday, June 18, 2012

Looooong absence here. The quail farm job has been getting a lot of my attention to the detriment of my fledgling small engine repair shop-which isn’t, yet.  is a frequent stop for me, when I actually get on the computer. Two articles caught my attention today (although they’ve both been up for a while).

Here’s the quote from Russell Arben Fox’s article about looking back on high school and how things have changed:

Time was that a high school education was the pinnacle, the finale, of the average American citizen’s learning; the reason why people had such strong ties to their high school’s football teams or glee clubs over the decades was because it was from there that they were ushered into the adult world of making careers and families. So of course high schools were imposing edifices; like churches and city halls, they were spaces where the surrounding community got made. Yet when high school is transformed–thanks to the disappearance of reliable local work, the imperative of specialization and mobility, the breakdown of church and family connections, the shift of wealth away from the grounded vocations of land and manufacturing and to the distancing operations of finance and the “information economy”–into one more meritocratic step which the smart student (like my own daughter–and like, to be fair, her own parents as well) will negotiate as quickly and as efficiently as possible, looking at every class as something to maxmize for future college-application effect…well, if nothing else, it changes things.

And from Jake Meador on dying:

And it’s striking to me that three of the foremost Christian fantasists of the last century, Tolkien, Lewis, and Rowling, have defined the highest form of evil as a desire to conquer death through some sort of controllable technique.

Tolkien makes the “conquering” of death a consequence of possessing the One Ring; his fellow Inkling, Lewis, makes the conquering of death one of the chief objectives of the N.I.C.E. in That Hideous Strength. Indeed, read thematically, that also seems to be one of the themes of the Tower of Babel account in Genesis 11 (which is the inspiration for Lewis’ That Hideous Strength). Death is a normal part of life in a fallen world and humanity doesn’t possess the means in itself to overcome it. And in attempting to obtain those means, we’re likely to do far more harm than good. Rather, we push back against lesser forms of evil which we are able to resist meaningfully and we trust to God the vanquishing of our greatest enemy. Isn’t that the most straight-forward way of reading the Resurrection? … This is all Biblical Theology 101: Death cannot be conquered by human means. And, as Lewis warned, those convinced that it is are the most likely to do things hitherto regarded as “disgusting and impious.” Tolkien understood that the essence of the modern project was human knowledge used to develop a technique, which would insure human control. That’s why he put nearly those exact words in the mouth of his most modern character, Saruman the White.

We might also turn to Rowling to help us better understand the issue. Rowling built her entire series around the question of death and how we ultimately respond to it. And it is the series’ villain rather than its hero who seeks to conquer it. Lord Voldemort attempts to ensure his immortality through the creation of what’s called a horcrux. A horcrux is something an especially powerful dark wizard can make that will contain a part of his soul. Essentially, it severs a portion of the soul from the body, insuring that even when the body has been obliterated the soul remains alive and can reanimate another body. But this immortality comes at a high cost. The portion of the soul that remains lives a half life. It has been severed from its body, which is a “violation against nature” in Rowling’s words. Bodies and souls, it seems, are meant to exist in union. Such violations do not represent the transcending of a mere arbitrary tradition that can be violated without consequence. Rather, it is so fundamental a rejection of the natural way of life that the normal delights of life become utterly impossible for the horcrux-maker. While life-prolonging medical care doesn’t sunder body from soul in the same way, anyone who has known a person like Wolff’s mother or my grandmother knows that there is some sense in which the person in that hospital bed living off machines is not the person you knew before the hospital. Perhaps such life-prolonging devices, then, might be thought of as horcruxes, physical devices that allow a life to continue even when the body and soul no longer function in harmony.


Now from the homestead: expecting Penny (aka “New Cow”) to freshen towards the end of the week. We are certainly hoping for a heifer, a healthy calf either way will be a blessing.

We’ve been picking corn! Daughter Theresa blanched 366 ears of corn, which amounted to approximately 44 quarts of corn (taken off the cob) one day last week. We should be picking corn regularly for the next few weeks.

Getting close to weaning our most recent litter of piglets in a week or so. Another litter due in mid-July.

Last week we got several inches of rain. The temp has been in the 80’s, cooling to the low 60’s and high 50’s at night. This is unusual, but we are not complaining.

Oremus pro invicem!