Bio-dynamic Farming and the Rise of Catholic Environmentalism, 1930-60


  • Jeffrey D. Marlett



bio-dynamic farming, Catholic theology


This article’s title may perhaps appear to some as a contradiction in terms. Nevertheless, it characterizes the concerns of many American Catholics interested in agricultural reform, cultural criticism and the very identity of American Catholicism itself. Through the integration of Catholic theology and environmentally-sensitive agriculture, what also has been labelled ‘Catholic agrarianism’ became a viable alterna-tive in mid-century rural America. Led by the National Catholic Rural Life Conference (hereafter NCRLC), the Catholic rural life movement created a Catholic agrarian theological tradition which preceded the Second Vatican Council’s (1962–65) insistence that the church embrace the questions and concerns of the modern world. Ironically, the Council coincided with the demise of the church’s interest in these particular answers to agricultural and ecological crises. As an exercise in historical theology, this article will examine Catholic agrarianism’s stridently anti-urban world-view and its highly-praised antidote—‘bio-dynamic’ farming.



How to Cite

Marlett, J. D. (1998). Bio-dynamic Farming and the Rise of Catholic Environmentalism, 1930-60. Journal for the Study of Religion, Nature and Culture, 3(2).