Patrick Archbold is co-founder of Creative Minority Report, a Catholic website that puts a refreshing spin on the intersection of religion, culture, and politics. When not writing, Patrick is director of information technology at a large international logistics company in New York.
I have a confession to make. This is difficult for me, but there is no other way to say it other than to say it.
I am a prepper.
Yup. I am Catholic and I am a prepper or maybe I should say, I am a prepper because I am Catholic.
In the minds of many, a prepper can be anyone from the guy who lives behind 10-foot-thick concrete walls under a former missile silo to somebody who has a few weeks of rations in his pantry.
I am more toward the latter than the former. I believe we should be prepared for foreseeable and even predictable events. As a husband and a father, I think it prudent to make provisions for short-term interruptions (few days to a few months) to the global logistical supply chain that brings me my food, water, power, medicine, clothing, and information. I also believe it is prudent to make provisions to supplement, when possible, for longer term interruptions to the essentials of food, water, and shelter.
But Patrick, some may say, as a Catholic you should trust in God to provide. Being a prepper means that you do not trust in God. Does not scripture say, "Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature? And why take you thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: and yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.”
It sure does. Scripture also says "A prudent man foresees the evil, and hides himself: but the simple pass on, and are punished” (Prov. 22:3; 27:12).
And Scripture says "Do not put the LORD your God to the test."
The serenity prayer says "God, give me grace to accept with serenity the things that cannot be changed, Courage to change the things which should be changed, and the Wisdom to distinguish the one from the other."
For me, that is the key distinction. Look, if we are gonna get nuked or if an earthquake swallows me whole, there is nothing I can do about that. It would be imprudent and un-Christian for me to worry about it.
But interruptions to the global and local logistical supply chains that provide my family with basic necessities are not some unknowable fated doom. In fact, they are my recent history.
I live on Long Island. Twice in the last 2 years we have had storms that knocked out power to places for 3 or 4 weeks. Just one year ago next week, I waited 6 plus hours to fill my car with gasoline, if I could find a gas station that had gas at all. All the supermarkets were powerless, closed, and empty for days and up to a week. All this from a local storm that never topped category one.
It doesn't take Asimov-like imagination to foresee events which could cause more widespread and more durable interruptions to the critical and tenuous supply-chain that we take for granted. It does not take the biblical Joseph to interpret dreams to prepare for the long-lasting effects that higher interest rates, margin calls, stock market collapses, bank runs, currency revaluations, natural disaster, or even war could have on a number of critical supply chains as all these things have happened in the last century in various places. In a globalized world, these interruptions could be global.
So there are certain things I cannot do anything about so I will not worry about them. But making sure that my family has food, water, and shelter during a short-term crisis and the ability to supplement these critical items during a longer-term crisis is not one of them. I can do something about that.
As a Catholic, I also believe it to be my responsibility to help my neighbors in any such crisis. How can I help anybody if I am not prepared?
In my mind, preparedness is not just about stocking canned goods and water. I believe it is prudent to acquire some know-how as well. There are certain things that our culture has forgotten how to do that might come in real handy one day. I think everybody should know how to grow and preserve some basic foodstuffs. I think everyone should know how make a fire and provide heat. I think everyone should know basic first-aid. I think everyone should know how to purify water.
There is an old joke. There was a preacher who fell in the ocean and he couldn't swim. When a boat came by, the captain yelled, "Do you need help, sir?" The preacher calmly said "No, God will save me." A little later, another boat came by and a fisherman asked, "Hey, do you need help?" The preacher replied again, "No God will save me." Eventually the preacher drowned & went to heaven. The preacher asked God, "Why didn't you save me?" God replied, "Fool, I sent you two boats!"
I think it is foolish and borderline putting the LORD your God to the test not to make use of the mind and abilities that God has given you.
Pray, get ready, and don't worry.