Ralph Borsodi's Advice
For Surviving Economic Disaster
(Part 4)

Dateline: 11 April 2017





This essay is part of a series about Ralph Borsodi and his book, Inflation is Coming And What to Do About ItClick Here to go to the beginning of this series.

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Before I delve more into Ralph Borsodi's book about inflation and how to prepare for it, I want to further introduce some of Borsodi's accomplishments and ideas. As explained in the previous essay, Ralph Borsodi was a man who put many of his ideas into effect, and one such idea was that of establishing small communities. 

The most famous of these communities was known as the School of Living in Suffern, New York, which Borsodi established in 1934. "Inflation is Coming And What to Do About It" was published by the School of Living. 

My internet searching on "The School of Living" turned up a blog titled New School of Living.  If you would like to learn more about Ralph Borsodi and his life, I don't think you will find a better biography than has been written by Bill Sharp at that blog.  These three essays in particular are loaded with details and insights...

The Life of Ralph Borsodi: Unsung American Back-to-the-Land Pioneer


Ralph Borsodi and The School of Living

The School of Living And The Community

One of the things I like about Ralph Borsodi's philosophy was his view of education. Borsodi wrote a book on the subject of education and I think I would like to read it someday. This excerpt from the second article linked above gives some perspective...


"The two volumes of Education and Living are split between a detailed critique of “mis-education,” and a new model of “right” education.  “Mis-education” is merely indoctrination.  It feeds tyranny.  He was critical of Dewey’s progressive education and the centralization of education.  He strongly disagreed with the school taking over many of the social functions of the family."

From what I understand, the Borsodi children were homeschooled. This was back in the 1920s. Borsodi's School of Living evolved from the homeschooling of his children.

Now, having explained that, I would like to also say that Borsodi's concept of a school being the center of a small intentional community kind of bothers me. What about the spiritual dimension? 

All educational systems and programs are built on a presuppositional worldview. These presuppositions are faith based. Where did we come from? Does God exist? Who is God?How did the world come into being? Why are we here? What is reality? Where will we go when we die? How do we define what is good (and bad)? The answers to these questions actually have a lot to do with the direction of education. Thus, all education has a spiritual dimension.

The traditional model communities of New England and Europe that Borsodi wanted to emulate with his communities were not united by secular schooling, but by a Christian church. The people shared common religious beliefs and traditions, including, by the way, numerous festivals through the year (Borsodi was a big advocate of bringing back festival traditions in communities).

On the one hand, I can understand why Borsodi would NOT want a church to be the central community institution. In American culture, churches are often, sad to say, divisive institutions as much as they are uniting. The problem being, minor doctrinal divisions, religious pride, and unbridled human nature. A nation of so many church-hoppers would likely translate to a lot of failed communities if they are built around a church instead of a school.

So there is a conundrum in this for me. Although I would like to see a church as the central institution of any intentional community I was part of, I can see the danger of such a thing. I should point out that Borsodi envisioned that churches would be part of his community ideal (just not the central institution). But I don't know if they ever actually were.

Moving on...

Here's an interesting excerpt from Ralph Borsodi's writing, as provided by Bill Sharp in his Borsodi essay...

“The three most important occupations in my considered view are neither governing nor engineering, as most men believe today, nor business and money-making, as most men believed yesterday.  The most important occupations are educating, homemaking and farming; the first because it is the educators of mankind who either humanize or fail to humanize both man and society; the second, because it creates the environment in which the young are either rightly or wrongly prepared for living like normal human beings, and the third because it [encourages] collaboration with Mother nature, for man’s co-operation with the living soil, the living plants, and the living animals of the Earth.” 

Now, I like those sentiments. But I am always suspicious of people who put emphasis on Mother nature. Perhaps I'm being too semantic with this, but you will never hear me use the term, "Mother earth" or Mother nature." I'm not about to attribute one iota of the glory of God's created order to an entity known as "Mother nature." But that's just little old opinionated me, and I digress.

Suffice it to say that I think Ralph Borsodi was onto something important with his vision for creating intentional homesteading communities. And I'm pleased to report that Borsodi's writings and ideas about community live on at the School of Living web site.

One last thing about intentional communities and Borsodi's School of Living... 

At some point in Borsodi's history, he handed the reins of the School of Living over to Mildred J. Loomis. Mrs. Loomis was probably the most avid acolyte that Ralph Borsodi ever had. She was up in years when the back-to-the-land movement of the 1970s blossomed, but she was part of an old remnant (along with Scott & Helen Nearing). And she was an anarchist!

Now, if your image of an anarchist is a window-breaking, bomb-throwing Marxist, you're going to be utterly confused by Mildred J. Loomis. She was a dear old lady.

It turns out that there is a peaceful branch in the anarchist tree. There are even Christian anarchists!

Here is an introduction to Mildred Loomis...



Stay tuned for part 5 in this series....

1 comment:

  1. Mildred Loomis grew up on a farm in Nebraska... I had to find out where, as I'm in NE. Interesting lady.

    ReplyDelete