Thursday, April 24, 2008

Peter Maurin: Better or Better Off?

Words that Put Things in Perspective, or Impractical Agrarian Utopianism?

Peter Maurin, Co-Founder with Dorothy Day of the Catholic worker Movement

I want a change,
and a radical change.
I want a change
from an acquisitive society
to a functional society,
from a society of go-getters
to a society of go-givers.

As or family goes through the midst of this house-selling/house-hunting saga, in which talk of hundreds of thousands of dollars is routinely bandied about without hardly batting an eyelash, it's important to note that foreclosures are at an all-time high, the price of energy is soaring, and the price of rice has doubled in the last five weeks. In a classic case of the law of unintended consequences being brought to bear, the demand for corn in the use of bio-fuels has contributed to the worsening worldwide food shortage and spike in food prices, driving millions of those who were on subsistence diets into the real risk and danger of falling into starvation. Sam's Club and Costco are actually rationing rice. Even during World War II, we never had to ration essential foodstuffs in the United States.

The video below features words of Peter Maurin. According to our conventional economic wisdom they would be considered counter-productive and disastrous words of insanity... I have to ask, though, does the state of the world reflect the best that our conventional wisdom can do? There has to be a better way of doing things. This stuff we see is all cyclical and recurrent, and these particular wheels are running out of tread. There has to be a better way for human beings to arrange their affairs...

Peter Maurin... Madman, Fool, or Prophet?

Peter Maurin's Easy Essays

Use your rosary beads to pray the
The Chaplet of Dorothy Day and Peter Maurin, Catholic Workers


Garpu the Fork said...

Was that video done at your parish? Someone I know goes to St. Benedict's in Sommerville...

Things have to get worse before they get better, or so I keep telling myself. Maybe I'm just sticking my head in the sand, but I've had to quit watching the news.

Garpu the Fork said...

And I"m considering posting the chaplet to the rosary army people. They'd have an apoplexy attack.

Jeff said...

No, not my parish, but it looks like an interesting place. That Fr. Carr seems pretty dynamic. My father was from Somerville.

I had never seen that chaplet before. I think it's terrific.

Garpu the Fork said...

Who the heck do I know, who goes to that parish? This is going to drive me crazy. Steve might have relatives there, but I don't think they're Catholic.

crystal said...

I was just reading about the food riots and how the amount of corn that can feed a person for a year will only make one tank of bio-fuel for an SUV :(

When people sell/buy houses, how do they afford the new one before they sell the old one?

Liam said...

Nice post, Jeff (though the music was a bit bombastic for such simple words). Of course you're totally unAmerican to voice doubts about the good of greed...

Jeff said...

Hi Crystal,

The timing is the tricky part, although you can always specify when you'd like to close... You don't want to commit yourself to someone's offer unless someone else has accepted your own offer in the same ballpark. At least I can't do it any other way. I need to be able to sleep at night. It's tricky because of all the things that can fall apart because of inspections, etc...

Hi Liam,

New photo, eh? I agree about the music in the vid. It could have used some question marks in a couple of spots too... Yes, totally un-American. My libertarian acquaintances would take me to town over it.

cowboyangel said...

The corn-to-biofuel situation is only going to get worse, I fear. They've already had major protests in Mexico. And you hardly hear about how inefficient and water-dependent the process is that converts the corn to biofuel.

Had never heard of Maurin. Thanks for the post.

You Socialist.

Jeff said...


That's what Anne has been calling me the whole campaign season.

As for Maurin, I wouldn't say that he was a socialist. Looking over his essays, I'd say he was sort of an anti-modern medievalist... Kind of like Liam.

Eamon De Valera and his crew seem to have tried to put that simple agrarian Catholic vision into practice in Ireland during the mid-20th century... Don't know if we can say it worked too well.