Monday, January 28, 2008

Commentary: Thank you Mr. Andrew Sullivan

Welcome to those coming over from The Atlantic. Thank you to Mr. Andrew Sullivan for the shout-out.

For those unfamiliar with LDS teachings on the environment, this essay by George B. Handley (a BYU professor) is a good place to start.

The LDS (Mormon) church has sad news to report today, the passing of our President, Gordon B. Hinckley. You can read about that here.

Welcome to my blog. I hope your learn something new.


Mellifera said...

Dr Handley! He was known in our department as "Hippie Guy." This being the BYU agronomy department where every year there was a new dude from Burley Idaho. : )

I'll be sure to take a look at that one sometime later (it's bedtime!), I'm not too familiar with his work but should be.

Andrew said...

This sort of perspective is long overdue within the Church.

Welcome to the blogosphere!

Mellifera said...

Good article. Good.... jumping-off point. : )

I've noticed something about agrarian-type folks (I don't want to call them back-to-the-landers because that phrase has come to denote somebody who has absolutely no idea what they're doing outside city limits and will move back within 2 1/2 years). They fall pretty roughly into two philosophical genres: secular/foodie/too bad we missed the '60s folks with 0-1 kids and Bible-thumbin'/man isn't it great to be able to work together as a family folks with 5 kids.

And regardless of political point of origin on the environment, they all talk about the evils of consumerism and how important it is to treat your land well so it can take care of you! It's something that everyone who knows land can agree on! That is an important point. Anybody who's seen and worked with land up close and personal knows instinctively that it needs good stewardship, and wants to give it. Unless a farm is owned by a bank who doesn't care how you make the payments as long as they get their interest- and that's a big part of the problem with agribusiness. Not that it can or should go away... we should just be open to alternatives, like growing things ourselves.

And contrary to how many might perceive the 2nd group based on their unfortunate experiences with rural Bible-thumpers who don't actually do anything with their land other than pile up cars on cinderblocks, they tend to be very intelligent people. (If the Republican evangelical base were made up entirely of these people, it would be a whole different world. See? Family farms do matter. : )

Sorry, that was long and rambly. Something that's been fermenting deep down in the cortex somewhere for a while.

Latter-Day Sustainablist said...

Mellifera- It is nice to put an image to Dr. Handley. Sometimes I just quote people without considering their reality.

I have also noticed a funny symmetry in American culture. The "way-left" and the "way-right" almost come back together on the other least on some issues.

Andrew- Thanks for your comment and for your warm welcome. Please check back.

Mellifera said...

Not just the way-left and way-right coming together. (They often come together via deciding compulsion and murdering people are ok... I'm thinking of Nazi Germany and Stalinist Russia, who shocked the world with their nonaggression pact because everyone "knew" they were complete ideological opposites.)

It rather seems as if leftie farmers and rightie farmers having so much agreement on a lot of issues isn't because the right and left being in some sort of heretofore unrealized agreement. It seems to me like it's more because ... how to put this... people who live off of land rather than the artificial economy have different priorities. The political parties are largely designed around urban thinking because that's where most people live. Not thinking inside the urban box, farmers' issues (ie all the things that most farmers agree on) aren't included in the platform of either party, so their political decisions are based on all the other stuff that is more of a secondary nature to them (ie the normal political litmus tests that everyone else goes by).

That probably didn't make much sense. Um, let's take farm subsidies, which have suddenly become almost sexy in the past year, but until then nobody thought or really knew about them except farmers. The USDA commodity subsidies for corn, wheat, rice, cotton, soybeans, potatoes, and one other thing I can't remember right now (sugar? tobacco?) are ruinous to the country's landscape because they make it profitable to grow things on land that should never have been plowed/drained/deforested, and would be left alone without the cash incentive. Never mind the weird stuff that happens to the food economy when everything is designed around 7 crops. Corn syrup... need I say more? Every farmer knows this- even the ones who use the subsidies. They've known it since at least the '70s. But when did it come to the public consciousness? Last year. Where are the politicians who are making that one of their issues? ... Anyone?