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01/04/2007 Archived Entry: "God's vacation plan"

Few things can clear my mind and set things right quite like splitting cordwood. It's me, PSM. Hi.

Today was a better day for working outside than we have a right to expect in New Hampshire in January, and splitting some logs was just what was needed for my mind, body, and woodstove.

I had been talking with a friend of mine earlier in the day about the simple life and the balance between secluding oneself and having community, supporting oneself independently, unplugging, etc. He doesn't call it gulching, but basically that's what we were discussing. As the iron split the wood, I reflected on all we had talked about. Here are a few nuggets from that conversation that I hope you will find enjoyable and thought provoking.

-- It is theoretically possible to own property and still avoid paying property taxes. It's not easy, otherwise we'd both already be doing it, but in the course of conversation and without really meaning to, we almost seemed to be forming what looks like a plan.

In the upper part of the state are hundreds, if not thousands, of square miles of unincorporated land called townships. This is the land not owned by the fed, the state nor any municipality, nor owned by any private entity. My personal favorite is the township of Success, New Hampshire, wedged deftly in between the papermill town of Berlin and the Maine state line.

In our state, there is no income tax. It sounds nice, but the tradeoff is comparatively high property tax. Mine is especially high because I live on a main road with water and sewer hookups, which come with quarterly usage fees in addition to higher taxes. My obligations to .gov could be lower if I lived off the main road, but that is, as I've learned recently on TCF, a difference only of degree and not of kind. In Success, there is no municipal government. Even if you wanted to pay property taxes, there is no one to pay it to!

Of course, there are also no power lines, no water and sewer hookups, no cable, no streetlights, etc., etc.

But what do we want all that stuff for, anyway? With a little bit of land, some seed money, and a whole lot of time, you could be a great gulching Success, if you're willing to take responsibility for your own needs for water, sewer, and above all, entertainment.

It all comes to a screeching halt right there, though. Like so many my age, I have most of a thirty year mortgage hanging over me. And like so many his age, my friend has many thousands of dollars in back child support hanging over him.

So we work. We work jobs we don't like to pay for things we don't want, and support a government we resent.

-- Our conversation turned to the subject of work, and then to the will of God in our lives with regard to work (he and I sharing as we do a faith in God). Christian or otherwise, most people are familiar with the Jewish concept of the Sabbath, and God's commandment to Israel to rest on the seventh day of the week. Anyway, if you're not familiar with it, I just explained it. But did you know that the idea of the Sabbath extended to more than just a day of the week? The Israelites also kept Sabbath weeks, Sabbath months (moons), and Sabbath years. So when looking at the concept of the Sabbath, most people only look at the fact that you'd work six days a week and have only one day off and say what a rotten deal. But in the time of the Israelites, it's true they worked six days a week, but then after six weeks of working six days a week, they took a week off! And after six months of working six days a week and taking a week off after every six weeks, they took a month off! And after six years of working six days a week and taking a week off after every six weeks and a month off after every six months, they took a year off!

And hence the possible origins of our word "sabbatical."

But look how that idea has been corrupted in our culture, a culture that supposedly was founded on and holds to the principles of the Bible. My dad, a practicing and devout Christian my whole life, and in fact my dad's whole generation, would call you a no-good bum if you followed that tradition of "God's chosen people."

It is the desire of myself and my friend to live in the way that we believe our God intended. But even a worshipper in the Temple of the Flying Spaghetti Monster has got to appreciate God's Vacation Plan.

Posted by Penguinsscareme @ 02:53 PM CST

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