The last few weeks I have introduced y’all to a book that is coming out very soon – Surviving Off Off-Grid. Last week, in particular, I shared our family’s convictions and why I think it is a must-read for everyone, but especially those concerned with true sustainability.
A lot of questions have come up since I introduced this book and we wanted to give Mr. Bunker, the author, the opportunity to answer some of them.
We have formatted the questions in a way that will allow you to scroll over and click on them individually to read the answer. If you have had questions about this book, his philosophy, or the concepts in the book this is your chance to find out more.
- Mr. Bunker, thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts. Let’s go ahead and get right into it. What prompted you to write this book?
- Why is this book for everyone, even if they don’t share your worldview or personal beliefs?
- What do you think is the most challenging aspect of your book, and did you making it challenging on purpose?
- As someone who studies history, could you briefly explain the general pattern of history and how it applies to today (and your book)?
- Why do you think that for all the talk about "change" and "revolution" in this country that nothing really seems to change? How is the revolution you describe in your book different?
- There is a great quote in your book, "The destruction of Rome was unthinkable, but the unthinkable happened." What would you like people to take away from that?
- Since you have lived an "off off-grid" life for several years now, what would you say was the hardest part getting started?
- In your book it seems we find ourselves at a tragic point in history. Yet, the book is very optimistic and practical in many ways. How would you explain to someone that a situation as bad as you paint in the book is really an opportunity for real change and hope?
- Do you have a favorite chapter or section of the book?
- What is your hope for this book? How does a March 4th launch with a "Book Bomb" help with that?
- I find this book to be one of the most profound books I’ve read in quite some time. It may even be the most relevant (and challenging) book of 2011 with all that is going on economically and politically. Do you have any words of encouragement for those who are looking into this for the first time?
- Mr. Bunker, thank you so much for your time. Do you have any closing thoughts you want to share? If someone wants to get involved in sharing your book what can they do?
I thank you, Shannon, for the opportunity to do this.
At the time (this would have been really early 2009) the effects of the 2008 economic crash were just now being felt and there was a lot of gloom and doom out there. I am always corresponding with people and answering questions, and I was getting a ton of questions about “survival” and “preparedness”, and some of my answers were basically becoming multi-page essays. Writing those essays along with the things I was writing on my blog at the time kind of focused my attention on the subject. As spring moved into summer ’09 there just really developed this “knowing” in our group and community that this was something that I needed to write. There were so many bad ideas out there, and so many failed “survival” practices and teaching. Most of the new people I talked to about going off-grid were starting the process with TONS of bad presuppositions and erroneous ideas. In short, they were going to make many of the expensive and time-consuming mistakes that we had made. I don’t know who first suggested it, or how the idea came up, but for some reason we came upon the idea of publishing the book the way they did it in the old days. I would “serialize” the book on my blog, putting one Chapter up at a time – asking everyone to help edit it and make it better by asking questions and making suggestions. We were basically putting one chapter up a week starting in June of ‘09. After a few weeks I was contacted by Nick at off-grid.net who wanted to serialize the book on his site as well, so that really expanded the audience for it. We ended up doing something like 13 Chapters and finishing that version in October of 2009. Then the book just kind of sat out there. I received a lot of letters and emails asking me to finish it, but I didn’t really consider it until Stewart and David – two good friends and brothers – kind of simultaneously began beating me up about finishing the book a year later, towards the end of 2010. So I basically rewrote the whole thing, then added 3 more chapters and handed it over to those guys to do all of the real work. That’s basically how it happened.
Well, the philosophy and counsel in the book is very simple: “The only real way to improve our opportunities of survival is to learn the lessons of history, and learn to live exactly like people did before dependency on “stuff”, comfort, and machinery put modern society, and billions of lives, at risk." However, there is a really stupid mindset out there that says that people should write opinions or manuals or books without being honest about the worldview and point of view of the author. Now, the hypocrisy of the deal is that secular humanists, pagans, vegetarians, etc. really have no problem infusing their worldview into what they write… nor should they. I can only learn from someone if they are being honest with me. The reason we have been so successful and have learned so much in our off off-grid life is that we have been willing to learn from just about anyone who has knowledge that can help us. I can learn to make a chair from a Buddhist, or learn how to ferment sausage from an atheist communist – and why shouldn’t I? So when I set out to learn, I put my own personal agenda aside (not that I compromise or ignore my own beliefs, because I do not) in order to learn what I need to learn. But I have found that these same people who want to require “open-mindedness” and acceptance from me, turn around and expect me to expunge my own Biblical worldview from what I write. Well, I refuse to do that. There is very valuable information in this book for everyone, from the most hardened and experienced survivalist, to the long-time off-gridder, to the newbie who is just looking into this stuff. Let me say that I am an equal-opportunity offender. Modern “Christians”, syncretists (worldlings), and everyone else will feel just as uncomfortable reading the book. That is good, because it was designed to make you think. You don’t have to agree with me to learn from me. Like I said in the letter I posted on the new website, if your belief system is so weak and fragile that it cannot stand up to scrutiny or opposition, then you probably don’t need to buy the book. Likewise, if you think you already know everything, and only want to read stuff you already agree with – then don’t buy the book. I personally have learned the most from people who either know things I don’t know, or who believe differently from me. I already know what I know, so I really don’t care to listen to people who are just going to tell me what I already agree with.
Writing this book has been one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to write. When the audience (everyone) has been locked into the hologram of safety, security, Just-in-time food provision, etc. that I describe in the book, what words and what means can you use to teach them what they cannot see? It is like this. Let’s say that I was going to send you, Shannon, to another planet to warn them that they are in imminent danger. Here are your challenges…
- They live in a hologram. All 5 of their senses are being bombarded with messages from their world that tell them that everything is ok, and everything will always be ok, and that nothing bad can happen to them.
- Their religion (whichever one it may be) and the prophets and priests of it, prophesy peace to them and tell them they are safe and sound. Nothing bad can happen to them. Only the other guy is in trouble, but never me.
- They have been robbed of their own history, so they don’t know that they are maybe the 5th or 6th or 10th major civilization on their planet to go down this same road leading to destruction, but because of a lethal combination of dependence on technology, relying on atrophying comforts, corporate mitigation of threats, the multiplication of needs (covetousness and greed), the deadening of the senses and the hardening of the conscience, they are unable to see their own peril. Imagine Noah trying to explain “rain” to an antediluvian world that had never seen such a thing.
- Their whole civilization is the result of propaganda, and the individuals in it believe that they should never have to be subjected to opinions contrary to those they already hold.
Now your job, Shannon, is to go use words to convince these people they are in peril. Some of them already know it, but they think they already know what to do about it. Most of them, though, will think your warnings are quaint and cute, and they won’t mind picking up a few tidbits of advice here and there, but they will never, ever, ever fundamentally question the very basics of the life they live and ask whether the foundational ideas of that life are that which put them in peril in the first place.
This is the best way to approximate the difficulty I had in writing this book. I have an audience, only some of whom are willing to QUESTION EVERYTHING about Western Civilization, Industrial consumerism, and urban colonization. Most people are never, and will never be willing to seriously question any of these accepted maxims.
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Virtually every historic civilization follows a pattern that goes something like this:
- revolution and/or independence;
- rugged individualism and freedom;
- growth, conquest, empire building (re-colonization) and success;
- comfort, atrophy and entropy;
- unwise and perilous dependence on systems and government;
- immorality and decay; and eventual destruction.
In the book I specifically detail this pattern in the histories of Greece and primarily Rome. It is a common default of the mind to believe that because something is… it always will be. Or that what “is” is automatically good. Once we lose a sense of history, we lose every means of warning and wisdom gained by billions of people over thousands of years. From such pride inevitably comes a fall.
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Like I said before, since most people are tremendously historically ignorant, they are unable to actually see patterns or rhythms in history. People ask for “change” merely because they love the world, but they don’t like some particular element of how things are FOR THEM. They love the system that produced the corruption, but they do not like the corruption. Most people see a false world created by advertisers and Hollywood producers, and if their life doesn’t add up to what they see in the media, they are dissatisfied. Others have concocted an imaginary idyllic life from books, or from their imagination, and they would like to blend that imaginary idyllic life with all of the “benefits” promised by the modern world – thinking that they can have the best of both worlds – benefits that never existed in two worlds that never existed! Anyway, people call for “change” or “revolution” out of dissatisfaction with their own lot or life. However, almost all revolutions do not produce the benefits that are promised. We recently watched the celebrations happening in that square in Egypt after Mubarak stepped down, but if those people knew history, they would know that very, very, very, rarely does any revolution result in a better life for the people. The Russians, the French, and the Chinese can attest to how bloody revolutions almost always end in tyranny. The only way a revolution can ever really succeed is when the people themselves are converted in their minds and hearts to a more true and right view of the world. They have to be stripped of their 3D hologram glasses and allowed to see the world as it is, and they have to repent of the ways they have lived that have been contrary to true survival, good sense, morality, etc. This book is about a revolution in every sense of the word, because if enough people listen to me (and they won’t, but if they did) the current corrupt system would collapse from its own weight. However, this revolution is an individual one, and it will succeed in some way for everyone who really tries it.
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There is one thing the human mind, unaided by history or true spiritual knowledge, can never accept. That one thing is this: EVERYTHING IS WRONG. Something could be wrong, or there can be problems or concerns, but there is no way that EVERYTHING is wrong! Rome went down a historical path that is easily traceable and understandable, but it took them nearly a millennium to go down that path. Western Civilization, and particularly America, is on the same path, but we have been double-stepping because we have traversed the same ground in only a bit over 200 years. What will happen is inevitable if there are not drastic changes, but make no mistake – the end is inevitable. We have thousands of years of evidence. Prior to 410 A.D, the Romans hadn’t been conquered in 800 years. Now, you have to pause and realize that this was 4 TIMES as long as America has been a country. The Roman did not believe it was possible that Rome could fall. Western Civilization is moving down the path of destruction at 4X the speed, but the people do not believe it is possible that this forward progress will ever be reversed. People think of civilization as a long trend upward, as if the graph of “progress” has been uninterrupted as it has climbed to our now lofty height. But, in fact, the line is more like a roller coaster, and the higher the climb the more steep and fast is the fall. Two-hundred years after Rome fell, animals grazed in the coliseum and the people chiseled out stones from its walls to build rudimentary dwellings. They had no clue what kind of technology or philosophy would have produced such a structure. Just as Napoleon himself could not have imagined what kind of intelligence, technology, and man-power would have been required to build the pyramids. Modern man doesn’t know where he is, doesn’t know where he is going, and cannot see the signs. Because of this, his fall will be severe, and the results will be catastrophic.
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The hardest part for most people is parting with their delusions and false expectations. Many prospective agrarians and off-grid folk have some idyllic picture in their minds of the perfect homestead with geese and pigs and ducks all doing their thing whilst the homesteaders snap beans and fish on the bank of a lazy creek. So for most people, the shattering of those fantasies is the hardest part. We really didn’t have those delusions, so we had a step up on most people. The hardest thing for us was that we knew that our decisions were going to really irritate and anger our families, friends, etc. It is a proof that our worldview is good and right that those who live in the world get so angry at anyone who tries to leave the cult of modernism. Seriously, we were not prepared for the hatred and anger that merely trying to live a simple, sustainable, separate life would engender. People got really, really angry at us – and we were called every name in the book. The modern/urban/industrial/consumer cult has ingrained in the people the idea that rejecting ANY technology is hypocrisy, and rejecting the system as a whole is heresy. Strangely, the more successful we are, the madder people get. Our lives stand as a rebuke to theirs, and they defend their worldliness with all the vitriol and anger they can muster.
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In your book it seems we find ourselves at a tragic point in history. Yet, the book is very optimistic and practical in many ways. How would you explain to someone that a situation as bad as you paint in the book is really an opportunity for real change and hope?
No change or revolution will be real until we actually have VISION. We have to be able to see things aright. Sometimes we cannot and will not change until we hit rock bottom. If the situation was not stark, and if the reality of disaster was not apparent, most people would still do nothing. That is the truth of the way things are. I am very hopeful for people because the things I am trying to show people now have very real and evident examples. Look at Hurricane Katrina, or any other systemic disaster in which the government was slow to react, and from that you can extrapolate what things will be like if the government cannot or will not react. Dependence on failed systems or on government to stabilize the system is a guarantee of failure. But our hope lies in that once our misapprehensions and false presuppositions are laid bare, we can really begin to move with a converted mind and heart. Most “survivalists” and “preppers” are making very grave mistakes because they see the problems and the challenges ahead, but they are still relying on “stuff”, industrial supplied goods, alternative power, etc. as if having an alternative system is going to work for very long. We have a great opportunity to show people that changing the supply-side is NOT a long-term survival solution. I am hopeful because here is an opportunity to really show people another way of life and living, a whole system that really works. And, as an added bonus, in the last 5 years literally reams and tons of information and knowledge has been made available in order to help people along their way. I believe things are bad, but I believe there is still time if people will get started TODAY. I am just here to help.
I really like the chapter 3 (Something Must Be Done) I tell the story of my grandmother’s life which started in 1909, and her path from simple, sustainable agrarianism, through rural-electrification, into the great society and through the multiplication of needs and consumerism, etc. That is a very poignant and personal chapter for me. I also really like the chapters on food, and the chapters on land.
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I am the master of low expectations. But seriously if ONE reader out of thousands actually goes off off-grid, casts off the shackles and chains of dependency and corruption, and teaches their family how to really survive and thrive according to God’s mandate and the freedom He promises for those who will do it, I will be satisfied and happy. For every reader that tells me “the lights came on”, I will do a private, internal, and indiscernible happy dance followed by prayerful thanks to God for His work.
I find this book to be one of the most profound books I’ve read in quite some time. It may even be the most relevant (and challenging) book of 2011 with all that is going on economically and politically. Do you have any words of encouragement for those who are looking into this for the first time?
Thank you for that Shannon. Yes I do have some words for those who are just getting started. QUESTION EVERYTHING. Don’t let your biases, your love of stuff or comfort, or the world stop you from examining everything you believe. I agree with you, at the risk of sounding prideful, that this is probably the most relevant and challenging book of 2011. Unhappily we live in a world (especially among so-called “Christian” circles) where every opinion is given weight except the opinion that challenges the status-quo. The great thing about my philosophy is that it doesn’t require millions of people; it doesn’t require petitions; it doesn’t require political action committees; it doesn’t require voting; it doesn’t require motivating the masses or any other nonsense. It involves individuals and families exerting and utilizing their right to say NO to everything that is wrong with the current system. You CAN grow your own food. You CAN live without grid power (and without OFF-GRID power!). You CAN live with very, very little “income” or money. You CAN separate yourself from toxic food, toxic society, and toxic worldviews. This stuff CAN be done. You just have to do it. This book is about tearing down the bulwarks in the mind that keep people from stepping out in the first place. This book is about freedom. It is about freedom from ignorance, fear, slavish dependence on failing systems, and the freedom to be obedient in every way in our lives. There is a lot of “freedom” talk these days on talk radio, in politics, etc., but all of that is hogwash. That is all part of the hologram that keeps people on the treadmill and keeps them mindlessly consuming within the current system. True freedom is the freedom to obediently provide for ourselves and our families without being enslaved to a system that has CONSUMPTION as its “god”. “Dependence” is the opposite of “Independence” and no one who is dependent on Just-in-time commercial provision, government maintenance of ‘stability’, or the unseen machinations of corporations and agencies to provide the necessities of life, is truly free. Reading my book will likely put you under stress; it will likely make you uncomfortable in the pit of your stomach; you are likely to throw it across the room once or twice, but it will have succeeded if it causes you to think.
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Thank you Shannon. We’ve pretty much covered most of what I want to say. For those of you who believe in the cause and who want to help in this needful revolution, there are some things you can do. Here is a bit of a list based on what some people have told me they are doing:
- You can buy a copy of the book for anyone you truly care about. And don’t just hand it to them and say “here”. Ask them personally to read it and tell them that you want to talk to them after they have read it… and follow up with them.
- Please, if you are motivated to help, do post our website link and our Book Trailer everywhere. This is not about money because I am losing $4 per book by going through Amazon instead of selling the book directly through the website. This is about getting the message out there.
- I’ve asked my friends to commit to convincing “X” amount of people to buy the book on the Book Bomb date.
- If you are able, talk to radio talk show hosts (even call-in if you will), bloggers, website owners, etc. Send a copy to your local newspaper with a Press Release explaining the concepts in the book.
- Here is a BIG ONE… Go to bookstores (especially privately owned bookstores) and order the book there, and try to convince the manager to put the book on the shelves. You can also ask your local librarian to order a copy of the book.
All of these methods have proved to be successful in the past. In truth we are up against a behemoth. Major publishers and the “big dogs” really have concocted the system to be biased against books like mine that challenge the status-quo. No mainstream publisher is ever going to want to touch this book with a ten-foot-pole. I’d love to be wrong about that, but I don’t think I am. It would be a tremendous irritation to the powers that be if this book became a bestseller despite all of its handicaps. That can only happen, though, if there are hundreds or thousands of people out there who are willing to spend as much time pushing something truly valuable, as their friends and co-workers are willing to spend pushing stupid and soul-killing tripe. Vampire books and Zombies sell. Josh Groban and that Bieber guy sell. J.K. Rowling sells. In order for something of value to break out, it takes footwork done by people who really want to help others, rather than to anesthetize them as they perish. So I do hope you’ll help.
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