Light in Our Dwellings

Dateline: 28 December 2005

Our modern industrial culture is powered by greed and lust and pride. Beyond the bigger issues of power and control, it is, for most people, all about the acquisition of money and stuff. Both of those things are necessary, of course, to some degree, but not nearly to the degree that Industrialism conditions us to believe and desire. Materialistic modern man is never satisfied. He never has enough. How much is enough anyway? A little bit more. Always, a little bit more. Like that modern bumper sticker says: “He who dies with the most, wins.”

One of the bitter fruits of this insatiable quest for more (and newer and bigger and better) has been the disintegration and near destruction of the family.

When fathers leave their homes each day to travel to a job and work many hours in a factory (or some facsimile of a factory), the family suffers. When a father’s work regularly takes him away from his family for days at a time, that family suffers more. When fathers come home, bring their office work with them, and further neglect their families, the problem is compounded. Children are shortchanged. Marriages are stressed, often to the point of breaking.

Worse yet is when mothers forsake their domestic calling and go to work outside their homes, often as the helpmeet of men other than their husbands. No daycare facility can properly substitute for a parent. Government schooling will never be able to compare to homeschooling. Television, video games, the internet, and other lonely, meaningless modern amusements are not a suitable substitute for daily parent-child interaction and family activity.

The plain truth, like it or not, is that, in order to succeed in this modern world, on its terms, you must sacrifice your family on the altar of Industrialism.

Yes, I know that is a harsh thing to say. Many people will disagree with me because the industrial model of family life is seen by the masses as normal and, therefore, good. But it is neither normal nor good. It is the spawn of 19th century Industrialism and a historical aberration. It weakens and destroys families. That is the truth and the truth can hurt. Believe me, I know.

The saddest aspect of this situation is that so many professing Christian families willingly buy into the materialistic hubris of our industrial culture. They fall for that big industrial lie, which is..... You can have it all! And in the pursuit of it all, they fall prey to the many curses of industrialism. Among those curses are perpetual debt, high stress, premature sickness and, more to the point of this missive, hurting, damaged, and ruined family relationships. When this happens, the light dims and the salt looses its savor.

I’m convinced that if God’s people are going to be an effective witness to those in the dying industrial culture around us, we must do more than believe in a personal savior, and we must do more than proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ. It is imperative that we also live our lives set apart to God. That does not mean that we can simply Christianize the ungodly industrial model and, in so doing, somehow become immune to it’s pernicious evils. It means we must separate ourselves and our families from the ungodly culture of industrialism.

The only way I know for Christians to effectively separate from the culture of industrialism is to embrace Christian-Agrarian life and culture. Christian-Agrarianism (sometimes called Biblical-Agrarianism) is Christianity lived within an agrarian paradigm. It is trusting God, His word, and His promises more than the false promises of materialistic industrialism in all it’s manifestations. It is filtering every vestige of industrial culture through the sieve of a Biblical worldview and discarding that which does not please and give glory to God. It is fathers and mothers focusing more of their time and effort on their homes and family relationships and less on their own selfish desires. It is families physically working together to break away from dependence on the industrial providers and, in so doing, growing closer to each other while becoming more dependent on the Lord. It is Christian families reflecting the love of Christ in their churches and in their communities.

I can tell you that the fruit of Christian-Agrarian life is not bitter. It is sweet. For now, I remain tied to a factory job, but my focus over the past few years has dramatically changed from pursuing success as defined by the popular culture, to pursuing my calling as a father and leader of my family. In that time, we have, as a family, embarked on a great agrarian adventure here on our little 1.5 acre homestead. We are physically working together to provide for the needs of our family. We are learning the skills of self-sufficiency, which, for a Christian, is really God-sufficiency. We are discerning between needs and wants and making do with less. We are seeing and enjoying the beauty of God’s creation all around us. We still have far to go and a lot to learn but we are on our way.

As a result of our home-based agrarian lifestyle, our Christian faith has grown. We are a closer family, we are more content, more patient. Our little home has become a peaceful and productive haven in the midst of this troubled world. And the light in our dwelling has grown brighter....

”And the Lord said unto Moses, stretch out thine hand toward heaven, that there may be darkness over the land of Egypt, even darkness which may be felt.

And Moses stretched forth his hand toward heaven; and there was a thick darkness in the land of Egypt three days:

They saw not one another, neither rose any from his place for three days; but all the children of Israel had light in their dwellings.”
Exodus 10: 21-23

Please notice that the light was in the homes of God’s people. If those of us who call ourselves Christians are to positively impact the ungodly people around us, and confidently endure the increasing darkness of our dying industrial culture, we must have that light in our homes too. I’m not speaking of some neon glow from a faddish, feel-good, modern spirituality. I’m talking about the burning-white, holy lumination that comes from genuine, feel-humble-and-fear-the-Lord-God-of-Israel spirituality.

It is this light, shining from the homes of godly families, living simply and separately for His glory, that will have a far greater impact for the Kingdom of God than any well-funded, well-organized, topdown, Christian-political movement or parachurch ministry. God always works from the bottom-up. He uses the poor, the weak, and the humble far more than He does the rich and successful.

It’s something to think about as we enter this new year.


Anonymous said...

Great article. Sometimes I just don't understand why more Christians don't see what the industrialized world does to families. How can anyone think they are better off with both parents working outside the home all the while piling up more debt!

Alan in Indiana

Authentic Farmer said...

The plain truth, like it or not, is that, in order to succeed in this modern world, on its terms, you must sacrifice your family on the altar of Industrialism.


Once again, succinct, lucid, and right ON! I can remember having this very discussion with a great Christian brother who I left behind at the Big Ag Corporation. He really wanted to try to have both: A maxed out worklife, and a healthy thriving family life. I concluded it couldn't be done, and started climbing back down the corporate ladder. The view from the bottom is sweet, as you say...


JFC said...

Like that modern bumper sticker says: “He who dies with the most, wins.”

I've seen one that says:

"He who dies with the most toys ... dies."

Anonymous said...

Okay Herrick! Very well said. As you are now aware you said in one small post what took me three chapters to say. I think you did a better job saying it than I could. You also said it with such a humble strength too. Praise God for your willingness to state all this. Now I question my writing ability. Why did God give me such a way with many many words? I so desire your gift of brevity.

Hexdek16 said...

Ours is the altar of a service economy built upon the postindustrial rubble of the modern culture in a technological landscape we now view as “society”.

What you so well put in to print grasps the finer considerations and conclusions my wife and I with prayerful trepidation viewed as the direction we are no longer headed, but ‘feel’ the ever-present pull from behind.

Leaving it’s “orbit”, if you will is the pressure point of gravity we feel from family, friends and so many unnamed “forces” of the culture and society we deem separate from today is the greater weight of our departure. Our job is not stopping or leaning back toward Sodom on the way.

We have found becoming free of Egypt’s bondage that in our “Out of Egypt” experience is that we are now faced with getting “Egypt Out of Us”!

The roots of our culture like the taproot of a dandelion, goes deep in to the soil of our souls. Causing us to be ever mindful to tend to our own gardens daily, least we be choked out by the weeds of our discontent or bitter sorrows in saying farewell to those who choose to remain in Sodom and the present circumstances you so well articulated.
Thank you for such a moving and inspiring post Herrick. Well done!

Herrick Kimball said...

jfc.... I did leave "toys" out of that quote. I like the variation you shared.

KS.... I plan to read the two chapters of your book manuscript this weekend. Do not be discouraged. If the Lord has put it on your heart to write a book, then stay with it.

Scott...... I particularly like this quote of yours: "The roots of our culture like the taproot of a dandelion, goes deep in to the soil of our souls. Causing us to be ever mindful to tend to our own gardens daily, least we be choked out by the weeds of our discontent"

Thank you everyone for your comments.

Anonymous said...

Exactly', ,sometimes it's so difficult to catch a glimps of Christ, him being surrounded by such a crowd of miserable sinners , that I try to find him surrounded by rabbi,s
'Naught shelters thee, who wilt not shelter me'