Beat your Olive Trees, But Not Too Much

11 04 2011

Landowners have a duty to leave some food for the poor and give people access to get it. Or that’s what it looks like at least. Here are two scriptural passages taken from the Office of Readings (part of the Liturgy of the Hours) that  caught my eye when I read them. One is from January and the other is a Lenten reading.

Office of Readings 24th Jan 2011, Commemoration of St Francis de Sales: “You must not pervert justice in dealing with a stranger or an orphan, nor take a widow’s garment in pledge. Remember that you were a slave in Egypt and that the Lord your God redeemed you from there. That is why I lay this charge on you. When reaping the harvest in your field, if you have overlooked a sheaf in that field, do not go back for it. Leave it for the stranger, the orphan and the widow, so that the Lord your God may bless you in all your undertakings. When you beat your olive trees you must not go over the branches twice. Let anything left be for the stranger, the orphan and the widow.  Read the rest of this entry »





Christmas Trees: a Symbol for the Common Good?

28 10 2010

A Christmas tree farmer working for the common good The Fall is a beautiful season in New England, as every tourist brochure will tell you, and so I am out and about  a lot at the moment. I was delighted on a recent walk near Henniker in New Hampshire to come across Forster’s Christmas Tree Farm. The farm is situated on a hilltop and his shop has a deck where you can sit and enjoy a beautiful panoramic view of the surrounding area.  Steve Forster the charming proprietor was in and so I immediately starting quizzing him about local walks on developed farmland. Regular readers will know why (otherwise the curious can go here , here and here for past articles outlining my thoughts on the subject). Steve immediately told me that he has opened up trails on his land and makes them available to local people. Read the rest of this entry »





Business Culture and Creativity

6 09 2010

Business decisions are driven by aesthetics When I was living in Oxford, I met an American called Michael Black, who is a former MD of the American Stock Exchange. He is now based at Blackfriars, the Dominican house at the University, where he specialises in the study of the theology of business. In conversation with him one day, he told me a surprising thing. When one examines what motivates people to make the business decisions they do, contrary to what most people assume (even those who make the decisions), it is neither pay nor profit that is the primary motivator. Read the rest of this entry »





Serving the Common Good in Rural New Hampshire

20 08 2010

Thomas More College students clear an 18th century cart track

Following on from last week’s article, here is an example in New Hampshire of a landowner who is putting his land in the service of the common good. He is Fr Roger Boucher, a chaplain at Thomas More College of Liberal Arts. Fr Boucher lives on his hermitage which is situated on a farm, several miles north of Concord, New Hampshire. Read the rest of this entry »





Farms, Country Walks, Private Property and the Common Good

13 08 2010

I am a keen walker and when I moved to the United States 18 months ago to take up my position as Artist-in-Residence at Thomas More College, I immediately started to investigate the local country walks. I live Nashua, a town in New Hampshire, very close to its southern border with Massachussetts. Both are beautiful states and there are state and national parks with developed paths within striking distance of here. These are very different from the British country walks that I am used to however. The countryside in Britain is almost all farmland of some description. So whereas in the US, as a general principle, the state and national parks aim to present man with a ‘wilderness’, that is countryside unaffected by man, the British national parks preserve a traditionally farmed landscape. Read the rest of this entry »





Beauty and Superabundance in Business

8 07 2010

Consider two musical notes. They can be played separately, but when heard simultaneously something profound happens. Without destroying the integrity of each individual note, a new third entity has been created – a chord. What is interesting about the chord is that is created out of nothing. Crucially, the result is beautiful.

What has this got to do with business? This little example is analogous to what happens in business when wealth is created. In his encyclical, Caritas in Veritate, Pope Benedict XVI describes how wealth is created out of nothing – he uses the phrase ‘superabundance’ to describe it. Read the rest of this entry »





Vocation and the Common Good

30 06 2010

How doing what I want to do helps others to do what they want I have just returned from vacation in California staying with my brother who lives in the Bay Area of San Francisco. While I was there, I attended a short lecture series offered by Fr Michael Sweeney, who is president of the Dominican School of Philosophy and Theology a member school  of the Graduate Theological Union at Berkeley). It was called Re-Visioning Society and was offered as part of their summer session and explored Catholic social teaching and the common good. Read the rest of this entry »