Harnessing the Land
...offered by Dn. James Ferrenberg, a sinner at 1:54 PM [+]
Old Columella said of the Roman mob, "We quit the sickle and the plough and crept within the city walls, and we ply our hands in the circuses and theaters rather than the fields and vineyards," with the result that "our young men are so flabby, so enervated that death seems likely to make no change in them." I saw a congregation of Columella's folk, our modern "disadvantaged" - pants drooping from their posteriors, precious metals in their ears, $200 worth of jackets, sneakers, jerseys, and backward caps, the raised middle finger and obscenities their salutations - just this morning at the neon agora near the interstate. These young men are free and they have leisure; and by world standards these young Americans - objects of so much liberal solicitude - are not materially poor. The bellies of the most spiritually impoverished humans on the planet are not swollen from want; their blood is not wracked by bacteria, their clothes are not tattered and worn.
When the valley's farmers are gone, as they must be, I worry: without the challenge to tame nature, where will the citizen of this current society learn of his true potential, and where will be the physical space - away from town and yet not the empty wild - to refresh his soul? Where will a man leanr that if he just works, he can still plant, still grow, and need not feel impotent before nature or man.
One of the things that interests me is how Prof. Hanson believes than man's taming of nature can be a beautiful thing, more beautiful than nature itself. Using his own San Joaquin valley as an example, they really did bring beauty there through the farms and orchards, saying "we harnessed nature here, but did not desecrate it."
Sometimes we forget (especially the environmental zealots amongst us) that we humans are a part of nature. In fact more than that, we are priests of nature. Hmmm...that sounds a bit odd, but bear with me. Charged with the care of nature, do we have the potential to beautify in the process of taming? I think so.
Regarding a portion of his land that has not been "tamed", Prof. Hanson writes: Such ground is of course ugly. Full of weeds and wild willow, by May it is no more than scorched earth, its natural potential somnolent, sleeping but for the coming age of man. That pristine lot is - forgive me - a natural trash heap...that weedy blot Does offer a stark contrast to the verdant trees and vines that surround – the former gives no life to man, the latter bounty to those who would work. Despite what the university pundit says, that quarter acre of unspoiled waste is nature’s wild fraternal twin to man’s nearby Taco Bell and Auto Mall. Both are ugly in their own unique way; both are part of no real cultura.
Why are we so inclined to think that we can do nothing to crown "natural" beauty? Are we not natural? Are we need missionaries of the wholeness and goodness of salvation even to the land? That we might find harmony and balance between us serving the soil and the soil serving us in return?