The Rescue of Moonbase Asimov – The Real Story


If you didn’t read yesterday’s post, the story of Christian ethicist and professor Tom Killian and his presidential meeting to decide the fate of Moonbase Asimov, read it first and then come back to this post.

So, what did Tom Killian tell the president’s advisory committee? As a Christian, his worldview gave him a good reply. You may have your own ideas, but I’ll tell you what I think his reply would have been.

Clearly, the economics involved in maintaining the moonbase made for problems, the biggest of which was that the moonbase could not sustain itself without a series of expensive transports routinely bringing in food. The price spike in food that resulted led to rioting at the moonbase that had to be quelled through military intervention.

From a strictly rational viewpoint, sustainability is the 800-lb. gorilla in the room. In truth, sustainability is ALWAYS a primary consideration for any human endeavor. Want to climb Mount Everest? You can’t do it dressed for the beach, with only a handful of granola bars in your pocket. Want to have a moonbase that houses multiple thousands of people? Then you must find a way to address the very simple requirements of food and water. If you can’t, then you either watch the denizens of the moonbase die or you keep shoveling good money after bad to support an enterprise that has no future.

Many spiritually sensitive people would employ the tactic of Dahlia Winters, the leader of the Phos cult. While it is a laudable idea to minister to the needs of the people at the moonbase, adding more people only decreases sustainability further. Such thinking runs counter to common sense, only accelerating the moonbase’s problems.

Sending counselors to the moonbase is especially ill advised when other options exist. Evacuating large portions of the moonbase’s population until it reaches some level of sustainability makes the most sense. If at that point a religious group should desire to minister to the remnant, then fine. The religious group would have just as many options to minister to the evacuees, too. Better to meet their needs in a sustainable environment than in a nonviable one.

Does this make sense? It should. Yet many Christian leaders aren’t tracking with that kind of sense.

Moonbase Asimov is not that far-fetched actually. In many ways, we on planet Earth have our own unsustainable “moonbases.” We call them cities. And some well-known Christian leaders are telling us we can’t be good Christians unless we consider the plight of the city.

In truth, they are absolutely correct. We must consider the plight of our cities. And we should have a Christian response to that plight. Unfortunately, the most Christian response bears little resemblance to the one being advocated by those Christian leaders.

Our cities today are like Moonbase Asimov because they cannot sustain themselves. They are bastions of consumption that fail to produce the most basic element necessary for human survival: food. Is it any surprise then that major cities across the world are seeing riots over the unavailability of food? You can’t bring millions of people into an area and eliminate all its food-producing acreage then expect people to have access to food. That’s insanity. Yet that is what we have done in large cities around the globe.

Our entire world is changing. No longer will people be able to afford food trucked into a region from vast distances. Prices of food are skyrocketing. Much of that skyrocketing comes from our dependence on factory farms displaced into regions far outside population centers. Those industrialized farms rely on massive amounts of costly energy to raise their crops and even more to ship them to distant cities.

While some would claim this to have been a successful model for years (though I would argue against that notion), we cannot sustain that model. The model of the modern city is failing and its failure will be epic.

To send Christians into the heart of an unsustainable model is akin to asking them to board a sinking ship, comfort the occupants, and then go down with the ship. Only a madman would endorse such a plan.

The wiser plan of action would see the Christians board the foundering vessel and get as many people off that ship as possible before it sinks beneath the waves. During the rescue and its aftermath, they can still provide succor, but the end goal is different because it is sustainable. Thousands of survivors beats thousand of people serving as chum for sharks.

One reality we must all face is that our food must be locally grown. In an age of skyrocketing energy costs, we can no longer afford to truck in our food. It must come from nearby sources. Unfortunately, the modern city has all but destroyed farming within or near its borders.

In Bible times and for long afterwards, civilization’s answer was to build walled cities for protection while ensuring the area immediately outside the wall stayed farmland. That made sieges hell as you were cut off from your food supply, but in normal times the food was right outside the wall. A farmer might live inside the city during the perilous nighttimes when robbers and raiders were about, but he could still walk outside the gate of the city and step onto his pasture land. While that kind of city was not perfect, it could still function.

However, today’s cities have no nearby ring of farmland and none inside its incorporation zones. Productive acreage has largely been relegated to far-off outposts hundreds or thousands of miles away from the cities. You simply can’t walk to the gate of the city and step outside it into farmland. And that’s a serious problem. A Moonbase Asimov kind of problem.

I firmly believe the answer to the unsustainability of the modern city is for us to rethink the small family farm. I also think that rather than sending Christians into the city to live, Christians should be helping city-dwellers get out of our unsustainable cities. It only makes for further stress on the system if Christians add to the unsustainability of the city model by moving into it rather than living elsewhere and helping others get out of the cities.

Helping people transition out of our cities rather than moving Christians into them has no negative effect on our ability as Christians to minister to those people’s souls and to share the Gospel with them. If anything, it helps: We show the foresight and desire to “rescue those being led away to death” by offering a radical response to a very real and quite terrifying problem. As many people ministering to those in the city know, city-dwellers are facing enormous pressure on their incomes when it comes to food. Again, riots are breaking out in major cities all over the globe due to this issue. And the problem of food prices and availability will get far worse before it gets better (and that’s IF it gets better).

I believe it is possible to find ways to improve the sustainability of cities, but the entire concept of the city and how it is laid-out for food production will have to be rethought. And that will take decades, time many in the city may not have if the course of our world continues as it is. Sadly, wise urban planners of the past who attempted to build-in food production greenspace were often shouted-down. In this case, though, no one wins when those insightful planners are vindicated.

One famous Christian leader (who shares his initials with Tom Killian) has repeatedly bashed those who believe that a return to agrarianism is our best solution. I would contend that it’s not only our best solution, it may be our only solution in short order. In fact, it’s the only solution that epitomizes the Gospel’s desire to lift people up out of their dilemma into a life of abundance.

Because it’s very hard to be spiritually-minded when you don’t know where your next meal is coming from.

The 800-lb Retail Gorilla’s Comin’ to Town (But Not If I Can Help It!)



Ugh, the sequel.

Did I say “Ugh!” already?

So, why the long face, Dan?

Well, I got home—all bright smiles and chipper—from a wonderful church party only to see the local newspaper trumpeting that Wal-Mart’s coming to town. Wal-Mart? Not in my hometown!Three stinkin’ miles straight down from us on our back country road.

Ugh. I could not be more depressed! 🙁

We moved out where we did to get away from all that consumer-driven sprawl and now it’s coming right down the road from us. Goodbye night sky. Sad to see ya go!

Honestly, how far do you have to run to get away from it all? I’m not kidding, this has got me seriously upset.

We already have a big Kroger in a town of 2,800 people. Why do we need a freakin’ Wal-Mart Superstore?

This has got me so mentally fried already that I forgot what I was going to blog about before I heard the news. Argh!

Hey, if anyone out there has successfully fought against Wal-Mart and kept them out, I want to talk with you! I’ve already watched them destroy one rural town I lived in. I won’t let it happen here in this peaceful, laid-back town. E-mail me at the address at top right.

I’ve already got enough things I’m fighting against. Now this. There’s no way I’m going to be able to sleep tonight.

🙁 🙁 🙁 🙁 🙁 🙁 🙁 🙁 🙁 🙁 🙁

Update: The Cincinnati Enquirer ran an article this morning saying that efforts are underway to put a $600 million casino complex just to the north of us.

Wonderful. Simply wonderful. 🙁

Ohio voters have consistently voted against casinos in the state, but the pro-casino crowd keeps chipping away at the opposition. The last vote barely kept them out. Another one won’t.

So let’s give everyone underpaying Wal-mart jobs, ship other local jobs to China, then take away what little the Wal-Mart workers make through casinos!

Lovely. Isn’t greed amazing?


Update! Please see (and link to this site): No Mount Orab Wal-Mart!



It’s county fair week in my pastoral community.

When you live in the country, you step through a rift in time. Whatever life you once lived vanishes in a flash, and you wake à la Rip Van Winkle in unfamiliar environs. But in the reverse of old Rip, you half expect to turn around and see Andy and Opie in black and white out back by the old fishin’ hole.

Back in Mayberry’s heyday, the entire community year revolved around the county fair. Youngsters primped their 4-H livestock,  fresh-faced young women coming into the bloom of maturity practiced their finest equestrian moves with their own personal Flicka, while their moms slaved in the kitchen, hoping against hope to beat that Edna Mae Krebs and her strawberry-rhubarb pie that takes home the blue ribbon year after year, “Bless her little heart—You thinkin' that's Silver Queen?and I hope she gets bit by a rabid polecat after stepping on a rusty nail because heaven knows she’s good, but she’s not that good.”

You know, what I’m talkin’ ’bout.

Or maybe you don’t.

Around here, 4-H rules, Flicka still rides, and Edna Mae Krebs continues to be the source of a lot of ground-down teeth amongst the womenfolk. It’s fair week! Around here, local businessowners throw in the towel because, heck, no one shows up for work.  It’s fair week! And the schools? Forget about it. Little Jess and little June are too busy making sure their stew rabbit plumps up nicely for the judges. The principal’s got a bull he just sold at the cattle auction. School? Hey, it’s fair week! Who’s going to be Tobacco Queen this year?

When you live in the country, the local newspapers ain’t like nothin’ you read in the big city. The op-ed pages resemble a seminary debate, as the pastor of the Holiness Church takes umbrage with the editorial written by the Methodist pastor the week before, the darned liberal. And the pastor of the Pentecostal church complains that people today aren’t like they were when he was growing up. Back then, people had no problems with a Tuesday night service, a Wednesday night service, AND a Thursday night service. Now you can only pack ’em in on Sunday mornings, Sunday nights, and Wednesday nights. The world’s goin’ to hell in a handbasket. And, of course, the general store is running a sale on handbaskets through the end of the month.

Probably won’t be any elders’ meetings at the churches because it’s time to get the crop in. When you’re a farmer, the pastor’s just gotta understand that nothing stands in the way of the crop. God knows.

That cloud of dust? It’s the combines harvesting the soybeans. If you look carefully, the corn farmers wear a crooked smirk because they timed their rotation right this year and made a killing. Too bad for the soy guys. Too darned bad.

Out here in the country, you ponder daily the fate of your mailbox, but when that’s about the only thing you’ve got to worry about, life’s not too bad. Your neighbor invites you over to hang out on the back porch, and the old farmer’s wife across the way brings one of those orange cakes slathered in homemade whipped butter frosting with the little bits of pineapple and mandarin oranges in it. A cake good enough to set Edna Mae Krebs’s teeth on edge, I’ll tell you.

You cool your heels on that back porch and listen to the debates about whether Silver Queen is still king, or whether White Magic, Fantasia, or Silverado has got it goin’ on now. And if you’re the city-slicker—like me—you pay extra special attention because you know this is a life or death sort of discussion that might determine your ultimate eternal destination. Even if it is about corn.

It’s fair week. And the Lord Himself is smiling down on us all.