On Giants' Shoulders

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Why Aren't They Quoting GKC???

That's the question I've asked myself a lot lately when I've read books or articles about things like the movement towards being green, or the localvore movement, or the progressives talking about encouraging small farmers, or Bill McKinnon in Deep Economy, or even Wendell Berry. Sometimes it rather feels like they are trying to reinvent the ideas of Chesterton, Belloc, the Distributist societies, the Antigonish people in Canada etc. Of course all of these were really only seeking to extend the Catholic ideas articulated in Leo XIII's Rerum Novarum.

So often these people aren't even aware of someone like Schumacher who actually did get a bit of a hearing in the 1970's. I'll bet none of them have even read Joseph Pearce's book Small Is Still Beautiful. Yet they are all articulating similar ideas. We need to scale back, buy our food from people producing it closer to home, practice household economies, cut back on our use of energy. These people would have loved living at Belloc's country house where there was no electricity. It's just so ironic that they are missing out on the ideas of some people who actually saw how all of our problems have common roots. Perhaps if we can only encourage them to actually read what Chesterton and Belloc wrote, they might see some of the ways that various things are tied together.

So if you have a friend who's concerned about the earth, concerned about the economy, etc. how about recommending some Chesterton: The Outline of Sanity, or if they're more into fiction Tales of the Long Bow, or The Flying Inn, or Napoleon of Notting Hill. Or you could recommend Belloc's The Servile State. Or if they are snobbish about reading contemporary writers only recommend Joseph Pearce's Small is Still Beautiful. Promise you'll read something like Ed Begley's book or Bill Mc Kinnon's book if they'll only read some Chesterton, Belloc, or Pearce and then discuss it with you.

There's lots of food for thought there and it's a good way to point out that, despite some notions to the contrary, Catholic thought actually has good contributions to make to the dialogue. It isn't just the Buddhists and pagans who care about the earth, serious Christians do as well.


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