Thursday, May 27, 2010

Of Billboards and Alpacas

Hello. It's been a while that I've been away -- while I was finishing the Crisis of Passion manuscript, we decided that we were going to move, so I've spent the past three weeks running around trying to paint my entire house and get it ready to show to potential buyers. Moving is the pits, but what can you do?
This has nothing to do with homosexuality, but does have to do with the broader "culture wars" issue, so I'm going to talk about my decision to leave Toronto.
You see, I've written about the fact that Catholic people who are actually living the Catholic faith can't afford to be insular: if you form a sort of righteous archipelago and isolate yourself from mainstream culture and live in a sort of Catholic la la land where all of your friends are Catholic, and all of your children's contacts are Catholic, and you are too pure and holy to associate with the folks on Church St. (the centre of TOs "village," for those who aren't familiar with my local geography), then that's no good. My new book has, as one of its major premises, the idea that we should not be afraid to interact deeply and meaningfully with postmodern culture. Yet here I am, at the first possible opportunity, packing up my homeschooling family to run away from the big city and live in some small town with a well, and a septic tank, and (hopefully) some chickens. A town with a homeschool community, where I can grow organic tomatoes and engage in black market barter with local farmers.
Is this hypocritical? I don't think it is. I might be self-deluding -- there's always a risk of that -- but I don't think so. You see, the issue is not where you live, but what you fear. Am I afraid of the city? Well, admittedly, I'm afraid of city driving, and I don't like the pollution, and I'm going to be frank here, I am motivated, at least in part, by the desire to raise my children in a place without ubiquitous advertising. Fear, and particularly a fear of the culture, is not, however, a primary motivation. I'm going out into the country because I really, really, really want to raise goats. I want my kids to be able to go out everyday and play in their elfland forts. I want to be able to go down and sit by the water on my own land and see the stars in the sky at night. I want to tend heirloom tomato plants, and watch all of those wonderfully ugly, malformed calabashes ripening in the sun. These are the things that I dream of, and I think that's valid.
The difficulty, at least in my opinion, is when Catholics go out and do these things, either because they are afraid that their children will be contaminated by Britney Spears and Queer As Folk, or because they yearn in their hearts to nurture baby alpacas, and then think that everyone needs to live this way. That Catholicism/Christianity and rural life are somehow synonymous, that the true Christian eschews the worldly and evil city and rejects the culture utterly, shunning it as the Pharisees shunned the lepers.

1 comment:

Please observe these guidelines when commenting:

We want to host a constructive but civil discussion. With that in mind we ask you to observe these basics of civilized discourse:

1. No name calling or personal attacks; stick to the argument, not the individual.

2. Assume the goodwill of the other person, especially when you disagree.

3. Don't make judgments about the other person's sinfulness or salvation.

4. Within reason, stick to the topic of the thread.

5. If you don't agree to the rules, don't post.

We reserve the right to block any posts that violate our usage rules. And we will freely ban any commenters unwilling to abide by them.

Our comments are moderated so there may be a delay between the time when you submit your comment and the time when it appears.