A couple of weekends ago, a group of place-oriented conservatives, many of whom blog at The Front Porch Republic or read the website, traveled to Mount Saint Mary’s College in Emmitsburg, Maryland for a conference on “human good and healthy communities.”
I had hoped to attend this conference, but I already had a speaking engagement scheduled at Fort Ticonderoga. While I don’t agree with everything I read at the Front Porch Republic, and I do not consider myself a “porcher,” I do agree with enough of their world view to have considered driving down Route 15 for the gathering.
Matthew Dill did attend the conference and has written a nice summary. Here is a taste:
There was, however, someone missing from this conference that has his thumb nearly on what we were all trying to talk about: a modern Thoreau or Frost, who bypassed the sirens of New York, privilege, prestige, things, and bling, Kentucky farmer-poet Wendell Berry. He skipped out on opportunity and material prosperity offered by big cities and important institutions and returned home to the farm. The scheduled speakers strode to the podium at “The Mount,” as the college calls itself, almost all building their story upon the work of this agrarian poet.
Berry knew well that “however frustrated, disappointed and unfilled life may be, the pursuit of self-liberation is still the strongest force now operating in our society.” He knew “the net result of our much-asserted individualism appears to be that we have become ‘free’ for the sake of not much self-fulfillment.” He knew to get to big ideas we need to “think little.” In a time of disorder Berry tells us to return to the care of the earth, the foundation of life and hope. Isn’t that what all this politics stuff is about? A way of life? An order of the soul? A foundational thinker of modern conservatism, Russell Kirk, thought so.