agreement between two great men

[The two [Pope Francis and Wendell Berry] also offer extended criticism of what the Pope calls a “deified market” and Berry deems “an opposing religion, assigning to technological progress and ‘the market’ the same omnipotence, omniscience, unquestionability, even the same beneficence that the Christian teachings assign to God.” Moving on from the shared renunciations, they each praise the actions often taken by small landowners and local peoples and affirm the value of physical work and artistic beauty. In short, both men refuse to swallow the myth of progress or, conversely, diagnose humanity as a planetary cancer.

– John Murdock, from an article, “The Pope and the Plowman” in First Things

a final, more encouraging, word from schumacher

It is the individual, personal example that counts. The greatest “doing” that is open to every one of us, now as always, is to foster and develop within oneself a genuine understanding of the situation which confronts us, and to build conviction, determination, and persuasiveness upon such understanding. Let us face it, to look at modern industry in the light of the Gospels is not the fashion of the day, and the diagnosis I have given here is not acceptable, at this point in time, to the great majority of our contemporaries. What, then, is the use of asking for a “program of action”? Those who have understood know what to do. They also know that, although in a minority, they do not stand alone….

So I certainly never feel discouraged. I can’t myself raise the winds that might blow us, or this ship, into a better world. But I can at least put up the sail so that, when the wind comes, I can catch it.

– E. F. Schumacher, Good Work (free ecopy available here)

more from schumacher

It is no longer possible to believe that any political or economic reform, or scientific advance, or technological progress could solve the life-and-death problems of industrial society. They lie too deep, in the heart and soul of every one of us. It is there that the main work of reform has to be done — secretly, unobtrusively. I think we must study nonviolence deep down in our own hearts. It may or may not be right to “ban the bomb.” It is more important to overcome the roots out of which the bomb has grown. I think these roots are a violent attitude to God’s handiwork instead of a reverent one. The unsurpassable ugliness of industrial society–the mother of the bomb – is a sure sign of its violence. “Blessed are the patient; they shall inherit the land,” and “Blessed are the peacemakers; they shall be counted the children of God.” (Matthew 5:5,9, Knox translation.)

I shall be asked to declare what any one of us can do in this very difficult situation. What did Christians do during the breakdown of the Roman Empire? They did not run away but went to work cheerfully among the apparent doom. The degeneration of the industrial system–that is, its ever-intensified idolatry of getting rich quickly–offers everywhere ample opportunities for bringing light into dark places. Everywhere the values of freedom, responsibility, and human dignity have to be openly affirmed, even where a neglect of these values would appear to allow the big industrial machine to run more smoothly and more efficiently. It may not be possible to do this without causing offense.

– E. F. Schumacher, Good Work (free ecopy available here)

some thoughts on our society by e. f. schumacher

[SSU has been developing an increasing interest in learning about sustainability or resiliency – here is the first of some excerpts from Schumacher’s book, Good Work, which shares some wisdom related to those themes:]

Maybe a type of industrial society could be developed which was organized in much smaller units, with an almost infinite decentralization of authority and responsibility. From the point of view of the Gospels, a hierarchical structure, i.e., authority as such, is not an evil. But it must be of a size compatible, so to say, with the size of the human being. Structures made up of, say, a hundred people can still be fully democratic without falling into disorder. But structures employing many hundreds or even thousands of people cannot possibly preserve order without authoritarianism, no matter how great the wish for democracy might be….

There are four main characteristics of modern industrial society which, in the light of the Gospels, must be accounted four great and grievous evils:

1. Its vastly complicated nature.

2. Its continuous stimulation of, and reliance on, the deadly sins of greed, envy, and avarice.

3. Its destruction of the content and dignity of most forms of work.

4. Its authoritarian character, owing to organization in excessively large units.

– E. F. Schumacher, Good Work (free ecopy available here)