I brought the subject of Cultural Disobedience up with Paul this morning as we were making breakfast for the day. In looking at the blog, I tried to discern the influences that make up the bulk of what I write about in it.
The blog seems to be a diary of a family trying to make it in the world without losing themselves to it. Nature-loving vs. TV-watching. Homeschooling vs. public schooling. Simple vs. hurried. Home-cooked rather than packaged. Searching. Wandering. Wondering. Thinking. Questioning.
Like, must all teenagers grow to be a challenge? Is disrespect a teenage right? Or, should television be a main form of entertainment? What is best? Is the love of nature a viable way of curbing much of what ails society? Does a child who knows the names of birds have more to offer than the AP kid on his way to a corporate VIP? Is dating an invention of the modern age — is it really necessary? Who tells us this? And does anyone notice that the delaying of adolescence into the twenties might be a contributing factor to the lostness and fragmentation of so many young people’s lives? I gotta wonder. When should the mantle of adulthood be handed over? I say as soon as possible. Why? Purpose, meaning, because they long to feel needed, because they’re ready for it. Responsibility means place. So many teenagers served on, waited on, shuffled here and there know that it’s all just a contrived way of saying they’re an inconvenience and an interruption to the adults’ activities. They know it.
Drive through a neighborhood and see the flickering blue-ish voyeuristic light that consumes family time every night. When we watch television, we watch other people live. It’s safer than living our own lives.
And who is interested in the crops that grow, the stars that shine, the trees that shelter? Who names the birds or contemplates the flowers? Good grief, I sound like a 60s song.
Maybe Paul and I are just throw-backs to the hippie days. Without the drugs. It’s the worst of both worlds.
Anyway, the books that have influenced us: A Severe Mercy, by Sheldon Vanauken, L’Abri by Francis Shaeffer, and Charlotte Mason’s books on homeschooling are all books about living apart, differently — separate. Siddhartha, The Alchemist, and Sand County Almanac are all stories about a journey. Blue Like Jazz and Through Painted Deserts are journey stories too — physical and/or spiritual. If I paint the picture of the obstacles for our family — it’s to portray the things that must be overcome. No good story had easy paths. The journey must be long and arduous.
We’re happy to be living a story. We’re thankful that things aren’t too safe — that there’s room for faith. We’re glad for the journey, even if it involves some discomforts.
The movies I mention, The Matrix and Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid are basically anti-establishment themes. Right now, we’re reading Walden. The back of it mentions “sturdy individualist,” “lover of nature,” and “the Yankee spirit.” It also says it is a record of an experiment in simple living.
I like that. An experiment in simple living.
Thoreau also wrote, On the Duty of Civil Disobedience, a protest against government’s interference with individual liberty.
Maybe this blog is a working out of a protest against the culture. I’m not sure yet. You’re seeing the beginning stages of the forming of the language that will describe who we are.
Because, though we haven’t gotten everything right, I think Paul and I got our family right. Ask anyone who knows us. If we can speak with authority and live with any power on any subject — it’s this.
So, when we discuss about the possibility of selling all of our wordly possessions (an exaggeragion) and traveling like gypsies — don’t view us as poor down-trodden homeless people. See it as an “experiment in simple living.” Or as a treatise on “cultural disobedience.”
We can be a success in the culture if we wanted to.
We’re just choosing differently.
There’s no truer American theme than that.