One Man's Ruminations About Faith, Family, and Livin' The Good Life
"If a community, or a section, or a race, or an age, is groaning under industrialism, and well aware that it is an evil dispensation, it must find a way to throw it off. To think that this cannot be done is pusillanimous. And if the whole community, section, race, or age thinks it cannot be done, then... it has doomed itself to impotence." —Twelve Southerners
A Christian-Agrarian Creed
Almost exactly three years ago, when I first discovered blogs on the internet, I posted a comment over on Scott Terry’s Homesteader Life blog. I don’t recall the context. But I do recall the story....
In my younger days, I started a chimney cleaning business. A Mr. Letchworth called me and wanted the fireplace in his camp cleaned. The camp was on Owasco Lake, which is one of Central New York’s beautiful Finger Lakes.
I turned off the main road where Mr. Letchworth had told me to, and I drove down a long, winding, private road, through hardwood forest land, towards the lake. At the bottom of the road I came to a large, level expanse of lakeside lawn and buildings. The largest of the buildings was, evidently, the camp. It was old and grand. The morning was foggy and damp. No people were in sight. The only evidence that anyone was around was a single, ordinary station wagon parked on the lawn.
I got out of my truck and walked around to the front of the camp. There I found the front stairs, which matched the grandeur of the structure. Two exceptionally large statues of winged lions stood guard on either side of the staircase. They were impressive creatures.
The combination of quiet, foggy morning, the old and large building, and the winged lions left me feeling like I was in the opening scene of an Alfred Hitchcock movie.
Standing on the broad porch, I knocked on the front door, and waited. A short while later I could hear footsteps coming and the door opened. A slight, grey-haired older gentleman greeted me. It was Mr. Letchworth.
He invited me in and introduced me to his wife, then showed me to a fireplace in one room. I commented about the size of the camp and Mrs. Letchworth related to me that their visiting grandchildren would sometimes get lost in the place.
If you are familiar with New York State, you may have heard of Letchworth State Park. The land for the park was given to the State by William Pryor Letchworth, a wealthy industrialist who died in 1910. W.P started his career as a clerk in a saddalry and hardware business in Auburn, N.Y., which is at one end of Owasco Lake. I suspect the lakeside compound was a remnant of that family’s former greatness, and the Mr. Letchworth I met was, no doubt, a descendent, and heir.
The fireplace chimney wasn’t dirty enough to warrant cleaning. Before leaving, Mr. Letchworth wanted to show me a stove chimney in the kitchen. The room was in the back of the house. Like everything else, the kitchen was big with lots of windows and counter space. I imagined that it was once the center of activity for a bustling crew of domestic servants.
The kitchen was far from modern. Its walls, woodwork and built in cabinets were all painted a monochrome buttermilk color. Though clean and neat and bright, the kitchen was cold and sparse. There was no decoration or ornamentation except a single, plain black picture frame. But it had no picture in it. There was, instead, some printed words. I read the words and remembered them.
Use it up. Wear it out. Make it do. Or do without.
Were those words an admonition to the domestic help? I suspect so. Were they the Letchworth family motto? Probably not—at least not in their heyday of wealth and fame. Would someone with such a motto live so grandly? It would certainly be a paradox.
But it appeared that the Mr. Letchworth I had just met was a conservative man—careful with his money. The small station wagon on the lawn was one indication of this.
Whatever the case, I like that little creed. I have always wanted to put it in writing and frame it in my home. Last weekend I finally did just that.
The framed phrase is in my kitchen. My whole family can now see the words, and learn them, and remember them, and, hopefully, take them to heart.
Inherent within the creed are some very notable virtues for living one’s life. In fact, as a Christian I see the creed as a deep theological statement. The Bible tells us that Christians are supposed to be a type of “domestic servant” to the The Most High God. We are to be caretakers of creation and stewards of the many material blessings our King has entrusted to us.
The whole idea of thrift—of not wasting the blessings—is found in the creed. Conservation of natural resources and using the earth’s bounty responsibly is there. Personal resourcefulness, as well as creativity can be read into the words. Contentment is certainly found within the creed. Simplicity, and doing without ostentation are also in the creed. In fact, the creed is a clear rejection of prideful materialism.
These concepts are inherent in the agrarian way of life, and they mesh perfectly with my Christian-agrarian worldview. That is because the Bible and agrarianism mesh perfectly with each other.
Of course, if everyone in America adopted this creed tomorrow, and actually acted upon it, our economy would collapse in no time flat. So what does that say about our economic system?
The industrial way of life, and the economic system it has spawned, is built upon discontentment, materialism, destruction of the earth’s natural resources, and waste. It is not a system that honor’s the King. It rejects Him and His wisdom.
All of which explains why the world finds itself in such troubles these days. Economic troubles. Environmental troubles. All kinds of troubles. We have departed from the simplicity and wisdom of God’s admonitions for living a responsible life.
So I present this Christian-agrarian creed for your consideration. It is something to think about. Perhaps you would want to frame it and put it on the wall of your home as a reminder to you and your family.
I've been blogging here about Faith, Family & Livin' The Good Life since 2005. Browse down this column and you will discover a rich resource of contra-industrial thought, down-to-earth inspiration & useful how-to information.
As of May 2013 I have ceased the regular once-a-month "blogazine" format and gone back to sporadic posting. Please sign up above to receive an e-mail notice when I post an essay to this blog.
CLICK HEREto view the archive of links to past Deliberate Agrarian monthly "blogazines."
Whizbang Gardening is Coming Soon!
Click the book's cover to learn more
Have You Been To Planet Whizbang?
It's my deliberate agrarian home business. Click the beet and check it out.
My New York Times Op-Ed Article
The Jeffersonian Solution (click the man and read the article)
This Man, Now Deceased, Predicted The Economic Decline of America Back in The 1950's.
Click the picture to read about Professor Walter Prescott Webb's Boom Hypothesis of Modern History, and where we are headed from here
Agrarian-Style Economic Self Defense...
I posted this to the internet in early 2008. It is still the most practical advice you'll get for dealing with the harsh economic realities that we face now and will face even more in the years ahead. (click the picture to read the essay)
What Would an Agrarian Monetary System Look Like?
Well, for one thing, it would NOT be based on paper money. Click Andy Jackson for some details.
Thomas Jefferson's Warnings About Government Debt (Then and Now)
Read it and weep (click the president)
How Farmers Became Slaves To The Corporate Masters
Click on the mostly forgotton 1937 book by Professor Walter Prescott Webb and learn the sad story
Delmar Ain't So Stupid...
Click on Delmar and read why I think he's the smartest of the three characters in the "Oh Brother Where Art Thou" movie
It's my new blog. Click the picture and stop on by!
The Deliberate Agrarian Book
(click picture for details)
Have You Seen The Planet Whizbang Wheel Hoe I Invented?
Click The Picture For Details about the hoe and the inexpensive wheel hoe kits I sell
A Christian-Agrarian perspective (click the picture to read the essay)
I Invite You To Read My Online Gardening Essays
Click on that beautiful handful of sifted compost.
Have You Seen Leo Sprauer's Handcrafted Hop Hoe?
Click the picture to learn more.
A Missive On The Prosperity-Driven Life
"The desire to be rich, to have an abundance of possessions and money, is the keystone of our modern, neo-Babylonian culture." (click the picture for my perspective)
Prosperity Gospel/ Prosperity Idolatry
Click the picture to hear John Piper's powerful 2.5 minute condemnation of the modern prosperity gospel
Have You Read Roe?
E.P. Roe, that is. Click on his picture to read some excerpts from this remarkable Christian-agrarian author of the 1800s.
Deliberate Agrarian Archives (From Before The New Monthly Format)