I’ve been blogging essays here for almost four years now. I write about “the good life” as my family and I know it. As I’ve stated in the past, I am motivated to deliberately live a more self-reliant lifestyle, close to the land, largely separated from modernism, because I believe this is the Biblical mandate. I define myself as a "Christian agrarian." I am an advocate for this way of life.
Others who read my essays here may come to the conclusion that this way of life is idyllic. Well from my perspective it is.
According to my dictionary an “idyll” is "a short poem or prose work describing a simple, pleasant scene of rural, pastoral, or domestic life; the literary tradition of the term goes back to Theocritus, who described pastoral life in Sicily for sophisticated readers of Alexandria." The word “idyllic” is described as "1. of, or having the nature of, an idyl; hence, 2. pleasing and simple; pastoral or picturesque."
Thus, it would appear that I, like Theocritus, am an idylist ("writer or composer of idyls").
It is easy to describe such idyls because they are not imagined; they are real and true; they are my life; I simply write about what I know and experience here with my family on our little portion of earth.
Now, having said that, I must also point out that this lifestyle I know and love so well is not without difficulties. Idyllic does not necessarily mean easy. I have written before of My Christian Agrarian Reality. There is more to this lifestyle that meets the eye. If you have not read that essay, please do so right now.
Many readers of this blog (or other Christian agrarian blogs) are inclined to think that we who write and present our thoughts to you really “have our act together.” This is not entirely true with me and I’m quite certain it is not the case with any of those other bloggers. Personally, I have a lot to learn and I am no paragon of Christian agrarian virtue.
I need to make that perfectly clear. My wife could tell you of my personal failures and foibles, as I could tell you about hers. Or I could tell you about little problems within our family. But I don’t tell all here. For the most part I choose to write about "whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things" (Philippians 4:8).
There are folks who read my writings and decide that they want to pursue a more Christian-agrarian lifestyle. I see this as a wise pursuit. But, as with all things that require significant lifestyle change, it should be prayerfully considered and then pursued step-by-step in a careful, deliberate manner. Keep in mind that your Christian-agrarianism may look a bit different than mine, and that is okay. Like the saying goes, “your results may vary.”
More than just a few people, upon feeling the call to leave Babylonian culture and Babylonian dependencies, decide they must move from suburbia to a more rural area and acquire some land. Again, I see this as a wise thing to do. With that thought in mind, I often get e-mails from those people asking if I know of a Christian agrarian community that I can recommend to them. Let me publicly answer this question very clearly:
There is no Christian agrarian community that I endorse or recommend. I have never endorsed or recommended any Christian-agrarian church or community. Please do not misconstrue anything I have ever written on this blog as endorsement of any such groups. (and that is my disclaimer)
I do not write this to disparage any such groups. I say it because I have no personal experience with any of these groups, and without such experience, there is no way I can recommend them. I can’t say anything with conclusive certainty about them—good or bad—because I’m not involved with them. It’s that simple.
Furthermore, I have no intention whatsoever of moving to and joining any Christian-agrarian community.
I do, however, have it in my mind to move out of New York state someday. If and when that time comes, I will look for a rural community in a place sufficiently away from metropolitan areas. I will look for a place where the climate agrees with me, where external government is minimal, where property taxes are reasonable (or nonexistent, if that ever happens), where there is an abundance of self-reliant, like-minded families, and where there is at least one small, rural church where I see the love of Christ and the fruit of the Spirit manifested in the congregation and lives of the people.
I happen to believe there are many communities like this in Rural America. If it were not for the taxes and overbearing government regulations, I would say that such a community is right here where I now live. I’ve been here for 36 years. I like the land, I like the people, I like the change of seasons, I have roots in this place, I have many friends—people I have known for years.
The other day I was standing in line at the post office in the little rural town that I live about six miles outside of. I knew the person in the line in front of me. I knew the person in back of me. I knew the woman behind the counter. I knew people who walked in the door. I greeted them with a smile and they greeted me in kind. We made small talk. It isn’t always that way at the post office. But it often is. And the same goes for the grocery store, and the gas station, and the lumber yard.
Where I live is not perfect but this place has a lot going for it. Could it be that, just as there is no perfect church, there is also no perfect community. Perhaps where I live is as good as it gets. That might well be the case. Upstate New York is full of little rural towns like the one I live in.
Perhaps I should start recommending that those looking for a rural community in which to put down roots should come to the beautiful Finger Lakes region of New York State, and the quaint rural villages of southern Cayuga County, where I now live.The taxes are way too high, but, compared to some other places in the country, the price of rural land is quite reasonable. You could do a lot worse. And I'd be glad to have you as a neighbor. :-)