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A Saving Remnant

saving remnant shrunk.JPG

Last Thursday I spent the evening in the Old Milan School in Milan Minnesota. The folks at CURE hosted a gathering of people from the Upper MN River basin interested in a local foods movement. I felt as if I were in the presence of a saving remnant. These are the people who see a different way in the world-- it's not a world of corn and soybeans as far as the eye can see. It is a rich and beautiful land-- with neighbors, food, the embrace of community, justice and beauty. Besides which, if things should go to hell in a hand basket and I can't feed my kids mangos on a winter night in Minnesota, I could feed them Audrey's elderberries and Mary Jo's beef and Carol's winter lettuce grown right there in Milan. A saving remnant indeed!

A 1936 essay by Albert Jay Nock appeared in the Atlantic Monthly pondering the Saving Remnant from the book of Isaiah and modern America. He says:

"Ah," the Lord said, "you do not get the point. There is a Remnant there that you know nothing about... They need to be encouraged and braced up because when everything has gone completely to the dogs, they are the ones who will come back and build up a new society; and meanwhile, your preaching will reassure them and keep them hanging on. Your job is to take care of the Remnant, so be off now and set about it."

Nock ends the essay saying "....hence a few of those who feel the prophetic afflatus might do better to apply themselves to serving the Remnant. It is a good job, an interesting job, much more interesting than serving the masses.."

I confess that I think of my own work as serving the Remnant--a good and interesting job--surrounded by many colleagues.

But right now I have to go out and play in the mud with my little kids.


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Hi all! That older looking room full "older looking" people is probably not much of a threat to any one, but just think of all the experiance combined in those minds. Speak of a saving remnant,who else could be better at it.I'm totally convinced that if what you say does't get accepted right then-say it anyway, cause someone else will take what you said and use it later. There is a group here in Dodge Co. trying to get a local foods group started too. How is it Mahatma Gandhi said it? First they Ignore You; Then they Laugh at You; Then they Fight You; and Then You Win. (I'll add one more to that)Then They try to convince every one that they came up with the idea in the first place!! Evan


Hey! I was in that room too! There were other younger folks there-- just didn't capture them in my cell phone photo.

I made Mom a little uncomfortable with the "corn and soybean" note-- she was thinking of my my good relatives growing corn and soybeans I'm sure....

Take care Evan,


you my friend are a force of nature! have fun in the mud

Hi Kathryn,

Awesome blog! Duane Ninneman passed the URL to me since he knows I'm a California desert girl who now lives in Minneapolis but misses the big open skies of the West. (Western Minnesota qualifies.)

My partner and I left San Diego in 2007 because we knew that if any place was going to "hell in a handbasket" of unsustainability it was southern California. What's happening in Milan and surrounding communities points the way for what needs to happen all over.

Thanks for taking the time to share this, I feel strongly about it and love reading more on this topic. If possible, as you gain knowledge, would you mind updating your blog with more information? It is extremely helpful for me.

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