On making a place in a maelstrom
Sadly, spot on.
Oh I loved that essay.. I remember reading it many years ago, before I had a family of my own. Now things appear more real somehow. The machine at least does. Thank you for bringing it to my attention again. My girls are only 3 & 1, and it is incredible how much pressure and critical comments we receive for not having placed them in nurseries and kindergartens. It is sad that outsourcing care for elders and young is so.. normalized. But also how disconnected many parents are with their children - first I thought that it was normal, but having spoken with many from the past generations it seems quite.. new. Is it possible to get some insights reg what books you read (if any) when it comes to orthodox parenting? Or can you recommend any ways of how to structure a day with good rituals for the small ones - especially here I am thinking of how we start the day and how we end it. Regardless - spot on. I’m still digesting your previous article on the gender topic.
"Suddenly, though, the media is full of scientists armed with ‘studies’ demonstrating how getting a fire going in your cottage in winter will lead to cancer and lung disease on a widespread scale."
Oh yes, to be expected:
The Planster's Vision
by Sir John Betjeman
Cut down that timber! Bells, too many and strong,
Pouring their music through the branches bare,
From moon-white church-towers down the windy air
Have pealed the centuries out with Evensong.
Remove those cottages, a huddled throng!
Too many babies have been born in there,
Too many coffins, bumping down the stair,
Carried the old their garden paths along.
I have a Vision of The Future, chum,
The worker's flats in fields of soya beans
Tower up like silver pencils, score on score:
And Surging Millions hear the Challenge come
From microphones in communal canteens
"No Right! No wrong! All's perfect, evermore."
Everything that can be shaken, will be shaken. Thankful that we've been given tongues of fire about our heads...the Holy Spirit, our true hearth and home.
Thank you, Paul. To be among like-thinking intentionally-human humans in a world world Slowly Turning Dystopian (the title of an upcoming post) is heartening, and an encouragement to seek what is essential and soul-saving. It is healing, actually, for we realize our power and sanity is God-given, and in the community of His children, however crushed we may be, the Spirit of Christ is not crushed, as resurrection changes everything. A poem written on Ohayo Mountain in Woodstock NY some years ago brought to mind by your piece:
THE WINTER FIRE
Its history is the history of hours
a shaky frame inferno
in the midst of chill and daybreak
a roaring blaze
to warm a house and bones
a crest of flaming logs
on a deep orange mound of heat;
the hub of the day
which branches out into ice & snow
and freezing breeze;
always at the center,
When sun is gone
and blankets cover the weary,
a fierce jewel of heat
radiates in the night,
an uncut premature diamond ablaze,
fruit of the sun,
drink of light.
The chalice turns to ash
before the sun’s deep bowl
pours forth another day.
Wonderful essay. The Welsh have a wise old saying, 'Codwch y plant yn agos i'r aelwyd'. Roughly translated - 'Raise the children close to the hearth'.
I haven’t had a TV since 2008. I don’t watch Netflix either. My brother, who works for a software company, has been TV-free for many years. I worked in the tech industry for 25 years. You might be surprised to know that a lot of techies don’t have TVs. They also limit their children’s screen time. The people who work in the industry know exactly what’s wrong and they have no problem getting other people to become addicted to TV/iPhones/TikTok as long as they get richer and feed the Machine. The problem with the Machine is that it devours the people who nurture it.
‘Níl aon tinteán mar do thinteán féin’, ‘There’s no hearth like your own hearth’. ‘Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireann na daoine.’ We lived protected under each other’s shadow.
Irish words of wisdom.
For many of the poorest in our society, the open fire has been replaced by a smart-meter, leaving them utterly powerless in the face of surging energy costs. And this is in itself emblematic of a wider malaise - that an increasing number of interactions with corporations are now mechanised, marginalising those who lack the skills or confidence to navigate such interactions. Older people, once respected, are now pathetic creatures unable to communicate with their bank, or use a public car park that no longer accepts cash. George Monbiot’s account of attempting to close his deceased mother’s Vodafone account, only to be threatened with bailiffs when he refused to let them speak to his father, who suffers from dementia and would have been greatly distressed, is one of a growing number of expressions of unease with this cultural shift.
1. The whole thing sounds weird to me, because I am a cat. I have territory, but I have no home, per se. There might be places that I and other cats that are part of my circle have found to be conducive for resting or getting out of the weather, at least for the time being. It happens sometimes that this place has been taken over by a raccoon or something, or another place gets torn down. A territory may no longer be sufficient as a source of food or mates. I am not about to mess with a raccoon, if it wants the place I was using.
In any such case, it's time to find another shelter, another territory. It's not as if I have anything to pack. Or I can just sleep in the cat bed underneath my office desk and if I meow and am annoying enough, my secretary will get some sashimi delivered. I am adaptable. I can live under the chair in the executive boardroom or in a barn.
2. Of course, in my world, toms are toms and queens are queens, and if queens were to decide to explode the idea of motherhood, a lot of kittens would starve to death or become dog food. Having been one of those starving motherless kittens once, desperate for food and on the run from toms who would kill an undefended kitten (long story) - it sucks.
Frankly, challenging gender stereotypes in the name of self-empowerment is the epitome of First World Problems, spoiled and navel-gazing self-obsessed humans who have way too much time on their hands and no threats from predators or anyone seeking to do them harm. Those dogs won't spare a kitten because it is still a baby, just as I won't spare a a nest of baby rabbits. A queen who does so risks the lives of her babies. Nature is a cruel mistress, and you can spare me all the happy horseshit.
Of course, civilization or whatever you call it is a fickle mistress. A cat I knew had lived in a home, meals showed up on the regular, served in a special ceramic dish reserved just for her, it was always warm and dry, no Cat Eating Monsters or any real inconveniences other than boisterous human kittens and the occasional vet trip. She didn't have to worry about where her food came from (and when you get down to it, it was probably worse than killing baby rabbits or nursing mother mice), even if you never see the nasty parts.
Nice soft marmalade fur, a well-muscled legs, and, I have to say, she was a pretty good lay. Once you got over her talking about her home and the humans who took care of her. Of course, last I saw that queen, she was pregnant and meowing at random humans to take her to her family.
Since they are shielded from The Real World (and I don't just mean having to actually earn their keep), these dopey humans feel free to indulge themselves, even though, if they didn't live so safely protected, they would starve to death. Even domestic cats know this, which is why they meow so much around mealtime.
If a cat in my colony were to tell me that he personally identifies as a queen, I'd probably swat him. Not hard enough to really hurt, but to say "Cat, stop talking nonsense." If I were to tell a nursing queen that I also identify as a queen and therefore can be trusted around her litter, she wouldn't give me the benefit of the doubt but her swat would be very much intended to hurt. I'd be lucky if my ears survived the encounter, even if I am bigger, heavier and stronger than she is.
3. You really ought to read John Taylor Gatto's "The Underground History of American Education". Former New York State Teacher Of The Year.
Saudi Arabia has announced plans to build a new city, “The Line”, that’s 500 meters wide, 200 meters tall, and 170 km long, with a population of 9 million people. The city will run on renewable energy, with no cars or emissions.
When I first saw the video (link below), I thought it was a satire on a dystopian city of the future. I doubt there will be any hearth fires in this city, where “home” seems to be a box amid boxes, like the Lego structures my kids used to build.
Imagine the lockdown possibilities and behavioral controls in a place like this.
A couple of thoughts on the role of modern women, inspired by the following:
"In this sense there is a case to be made that the pre-modern woman, working in her home with her husband and family, had more agency and power than her contemporary counterpart whose life is directed from outside the home by distant commercial interests."
On being a housewife, the most important work:
“I think I can understand that feeling about a housewife’s work being like that of Sisyphus (who was the stone rolling gentleman). But it is surely, in reality, the most important work in the world. What do ships, railways, mines, cars, government etc. exist for except that people may be fed, warmed, & safe in their own homes? As Dr Johnson said, ‘To be happy at home is the end of all human endeavour’. (1st to be happy, to prepare for being happy in our own real Home hereafter: 2nd, in the meantime, to be happy in our houses.) We wage war in order to have peace, we work in order to have leisure, we produce food in order to eat it. So your job is the one for which all others exist.” (Lewis, 1955)."
A few years ago, in a litany of descriptors for God's immanence, I came up with "as the hearthstone in the home".
“The choice to homeschool our children has changed our lives and theirs; I see this now as the most important thing any parent can do to resist Machine culture.”
When we first began homeschooling, most of our extended family and friends looked on in dismay or quiet skepticism. In the years since then we’ve become more convinced than ever that it was the right decision, academically, socially, and in terms of family, amid the wider meltdown in the quality of public education and the general shriveling of the social fabric.
For all it’s benefits, homeschooling will eventually become a target of the state, as family already is. Who would have thought that hearths and white picket fences would be centers of rebellion?
Fantastic. Get this message onto the youtubes etc etc. I think people will easily see the value in hearth and home when presented in this way.