An Early Missourian Farmer’s Mindset

Posted by tcmgo1 on Jun 12th, 2010

Gottfried Duden was a German immigrant farmer that homesteaded in Missouri in its early days when man and animal toiled together to farm the rich soils of God’s making to produce the very necessities of life. In the brief excerpt below he paints an amazing picture of the early American farm, one that spoke of incredibly hard work and humble trust in the Creator for success, not in debt-inducing technology and every form of insurance to back it up. Gottfried’s gutsy pioneering spirit to trust God without subsidies and other government “guarantees” is something for which the average American today would shudder even considering, let alone undertaking. In a time where Americans have foolishly traded freedom for security and productivity for entitlement, the picture he paints may serve us well as a sort of prescriptive model to get back to understanding the vital necessity of being locally productive, as it is a crucial element of the biblical model for civil and economic freedom.

This excerpt is from a report he made in the 1820’s for future German immigrants, which described his personal farming experiences in the rich river bottomlands of Missouri. Though I grant he may have embellished it so as to draw his fellow countryman here, it does, however, line up with the historic records of the “Little Dixie” region which spanned both sides of the Missouri River, which at one time was one of the most prosperous farming regions in the nation prior to the devastations of the War Between The States that ravaged much of western Missouri. It is taken from the Centennial History of Missouri, 1821-1921, by Walter Stevens. I have emboldened one sentence, which really stands out, as it testifies to an entirely different worldview than that of today’s American farmer.

A small family requires no more than four or five acres of land to begin with. Half an acre suffices for garden vegetables, another half acre for wheat, after which there left three or four acres for maize. The maize is the farmer’s main crop. One might call it the nurse of the growing population. It serves all domestic animals as food. The meal made of it, when cooked, with milk, furnishes a very nourishing, wholesome and palatable food. If it is kneaded with the boiled pulp of the pumpkin a kind of bread can be made of it which I prefer to wheat bread, especially if the dough has been made to ferment. The baking is done in covered iron pots, which are placed beside the hearth and are covered entirely with burning coals. In most of the households fresh bread is baked every day, which is not so much of a burden, since there are always supplies of burning coals on the spacious hearth. There are a great many varieties of maize here. Those with white or yellow kernels are the most common. Besides these varieties there are those of red, blue, and red and blue spotted kernels, a finally a kind whose kernels are transparent like pearls. The stalks become very high, ten, fifteen, indeed twenty feet high.

 

The garden supplies the best kitchen vegetables. Peas and beans prosper beyond expectation. Of the beans, only the finer varieties are raised. In order not to have to supply sticks for the beans and make special beds for them they are planted in the maize fields, where the high stocks of the maize furnish support for the vines. All these things thrive simultaneously, without the least fertilizer, and indeed after twenty years just as well during the first year. Cucumbers and melons are grown each year in great abundance without any special attendance being given them. The sweet potato is also a fine vegetable. When prepared by steaming, its taste resembles that of the fine chestnut.

 

During the second year, after the land is cleared, cotton can be grown; north of the Missouri, however, only for family use. It is the endeavor of the American farmer not to spend any money for food and drink, nor for clothing (finer alone excepted). For this reason he grows flax and hemp and keeps a small flock of sheep. The spinning wheel is nowhere lacking, and if the household does not own a loom, the housewife or one of the daughters goes, from time to time, to one of the neighbors who does possess one.
 

 

At one time the American farm was like a small village, having several buildings dedicated for the diverse elements of its self contained, small scale economy (once known as “home economics”), which produced a whole variety of items meant to meet the needs of the farmer’s family first, and then as production permitted to sell to the surrounding community, which created the synergy for a strong local economy. It wasn’t that long ago that forty acres of decent farmland and a good span of broke mules could do a lot towards building a prosperous “family farm” in Missouri.

When I say family farm, I am not talking about the modern mono-crop or commodity farm that is often run by families, though I intend no offense to them as I realize they work extremely hard, but the problem is that they do not work for themselves, but for corporate agribusiness as indentured servants that must perpetually consume their farming products (equipment, chemicals and fertilizers, etc.) to keep the farm going, a loosing arrangement over time, except of course, for the huge corporate farms that receive the lion’s share of hundreds of billions in federal subsidies, a form of corporate welfare paid for by the American taxpayer. The plight of the average American farmer reminds me of the joke about the farmer that was asked what he would do if he won the lottery. He answered that he would just keep farming until the money was gone.

Praise the Lord, however, that there appears to be a growing movement in the rural areas of America towards restoring the true family farm—an independent farm that produces most all of the needs of its human stewards and the inputs (fertilizers, feed, etc.) it needs to sustainably produce livestock and crops from year to year—though not in isolation, but in tandem with other neighboring farms of the same mindset. As it stands now, the locally productive family farm is a rare bird, a lost heritage, save among the Amish, and even they are fighting for their lives these days because of the debt-based system and ever encroaching governmental regulatory agencies that have them cornered, like everyone else.

Drive around the countryside here and you will see small farms abandoned everywhere with collapsed buildings and bone yards full of rusting equipment, a solemn testimony to the “consume and discard” mentality that dominates us today. An ever growing number of farmers do not produce anything on their farms for personal consumption and do their shopping at the local Wal-Mart, where they buy food produced thousands of miles away. Farms here still have lots of buildings, nice big steel ones, but they mostly house the behemoth pieces of equipment that produce the commodity crops for corporate America.

Walk through our local Wal-Mart and one will witness Americans in a very sad state of health and awareness, where grossly overweight folks fill their shopping carts to the top with pizzas, desserts, chips, pop, and other highly processed “foods,” if you can call it that, which are made from GMO products saturated with high fructose corn syrup and who knows what hormones, pesticides, and chemicals. What’s worse, many have no clue what real food is, where it comes from, or how it is produced, and sadly, many could care less, believing with entitlement faith that there will always be readily available food and the means to procure it, be it jobs, government subsidies, food stamps, and other forms of state welfare. What are they going to do when things reach the point in our nation where they will be forced to work by the sweat of their brow to actually produce the basic things they need? And if you don’t think this will ever happen, than you have no understanding how our economic system works or how incredibly vulnerable it truly is.

Folks, we have a real cultural disaster in the making and the state is not going to save anyone except itself, and that at your loss. We must turn to the Lord Jesus Christ and by His grace obey His righteous commands, wherein He promises that if we seek first His kingdom and righteousness, that all the things we need for life will be added unto us by His mercy and grace. Now there is true hope for the here and now, something we can truly put our faith into that will enable us to press forward, once again, as biblical pioneers like our forefathers.  — The Rural Missourian

So are all agrarians farmers?

Posted by Rural Missourian on Dec 5th, 2007

I have found that in speaking of some of the “agrarian” things we do here that involve Sam & Sadie, goats, chickens, sorghum making, and the like that I often get the reply, “so are all agrarians farmers?” No, in the strict traditional sense, for farming is but one aspect of a myriad that comprises agrarianism, as the visible end result of all forms of agrarianism is human culture, in its entirety, for good or for evil. However, in the greater sense of mankind’s obligation to serve the Lord, we are all farmers directly or indirectly, as we all are answerable to Him for how we live on earth and by what standard.

This means that even the computer geek—who lives his life in seeming total non-agrarian isolation while working his trade from his plastic cubicle nestled on the top story of concrete skyscraper—is an agrarian. How so? His body is entirely dependent upon eating food produced from land somewhere, whose producers subscribe to some form of agrarianism. Though he may not do anything to produce his food directly, the money he earns that buys his food supports the agrarianism that does produce it and, thus, he has his part for which he is accountable.

The Scriptures make it clear that we are all called to be productive agricoles (husbandmen) of the earth in stewarding it according to the law of the land (loy agrarienne), the law of its Creator, the Lord God Almighty.

Agrarian – adj. 1618, borrowed through Middle French in the phrase loy agrarienne agrarian law, from Latin agrarious of the land, from ager (genitive agri) field, see ACRE ; for suffix see –IAN (Chambers Dictionary of Etymology).

Even man’s physical nature is entirely “of the land,” that is, agrarian, as he is made from the dust of the earth and by the dust of the earth he nourishes it.

Every breathing human lives on the Lord’s earth (Psa. 24:1) and derives his food, clothing, and shelter from its resources, thus, he subscribes to some form of agrarianism, knowingly or unknowingly, whether he ever dirties his hands with soil. Biblical agrarianism is the only kind mandated by the Lord for man is not an amoral being like an animal that he should live by bread alone, but is a moral agent answerable to God, Who commands him to live by every word that proceeds from His mouth. All other forms of agrarianism that use any other standard other than God’s law, though they may appear prosperous for a season, are cursed of God and, thus, unsustainable, as the Scriptures make irrefutably clear.

Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for Him; Do not fret because of him who prospers in his way, Because of the man who brings wicked schemes to pass. Cease from anger, and forsake wrath; Do not fret—it only causes harm. For evildoers shall be cut off; But those who wait on the Lord, They shall inherit the earth. For yet a little while and the wicked shall be no more; Indeed, you will look carefully for his place, But it shall be no more. But the meek shall inherit the earth, And shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace (Psa. 37:7-11).

Biblical agrarianism began with man’s calling in the Garden of Eden, Then the Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to tend and keep it (Gen. 2:15). Man was given dominion of the earth (Gen. 1:28) under his Maker to dress (abad – work) and keep (shamar – guard, preserve) it according to His law. Though mankind (through the first Adam its federal head – Rom. 5:12) fell in sin and was cast from the garden, he was still to labor by the sweat of the brow in eating of the ground, though now under a curse. Cursed is the ground for your sake; In toil you shall eat of it All the days of your life (Gen. 3:17b). After the flood when the Lord once again gave the dominion mandate to mankind through Noah, a righteous man (Gen. 7:1, 9:1-2), the Scriptures state that Noah began to be a farmer, and he planted a vineyard (Gen. 9:20). David confirms this truth of the seminal calling of man to serve the Lord in exercising dominion over the work of His hands. What is man that You are mindful of him, and the son of man that You visit him? For You have made him a little lower than the angels, and You have crowned him with glory and honor. You have made him to have dominion over the works of Your hand; You have put all things under his feet (Psa. 8:4-6).

Under the New Covenant all things have been put under the feet of Jesus Christ the last Adam (1Cor. 15:27, 45-47), the firstborn of the new creation (Rom. 8:29, Gal. 6:15), the King of the rulers of the earth (Rev. 1:4-5) and the Heir for whom the nations and the earth belong (Psa. 2:6-8, Heb. 1:1-4). All peoples, tribes, tongues, and nations are the Lord’s and some come into His Kingdom by His Gospel (Rom. 16:25-27, Rev. 7:9) and others, His enemies, are made His footstool (Heb. 10:12-13). But all are His (Psa. 24:1) and all will bow their knee to Him, some by his grace (Eph. 3:14) and some by His sovereign hand (Phil. 2:9-11). Likewise, the ends of all the earth belong to Lord (not the devil or man, as so many wrongly suppose (Exo. 9:29 & 19:5, Job 41:11, Deu. 10:14, 1 Chr. 29:11, Psa. 24:1, 1 Cor. 10:25-26), for which His people are called to steward in love of Him through obeying all His commandments (John 14:15, 1John 5:3-5), just as Adam was commanded at the beginning. Wherein fallen man could not obey God’s law, being that his depraved nature was contrary to it (Rom. 8: 7-8), the new man in Christ has been empowered to keep it as he walks in the Spirit (Rom. 8:3-4), though not always perfectly, for which he has been given leave to come boldly to his King’s throne of grace to receive forgiveness, mercy, and help (1 John 1:9, Heb. 4:16).

Agrarianism can best be described as the outworking of the law of a given culture’s God/god into the everyday work of the hearts, minds, and hands of its people upon the land they dwell in sustaining themselves while establishing their progeny’s future. For example, a Christian culture is built upon the law of God, which manifests itself in an agrarianism based upon its people applying it by faith to themselves, their disciplines, and the things they use that have a part in its functioning – family, church, state, commerce, trade, money, education, medicine, science, technology, manufacturing, farming, ranching, logging, mining, etc. The things by which human culture functions are varied and extensive, but they all have one common denominator . . . the land. Not only is farming based upon the land, but all of culture is played out on the land or agri as it is expressed in Latin.

So no matter how far a “technologically sophisticated” culture thinks it has advanced beyond the supposed abysmal existence of former “primitive” agrarian cultures, its whole existence is entirely dependent upon the land and rain. “Man—despite his artistic pretensions, his sophistication, and his many accomplishments—owes his existence to a six-inch layer of topsoil and the fact that it rains (Anonymous).” This must be thoroughly qualified, however. Man owes his existence to God, alone. He owes his earthly source of food to the six-inch layer of topsoil created by the Lord and the fact that He blesses it with nourishing rains according to His merciful love (Mat. 5:43-45). If the Lord were to withhold the rain long enough, not only would farming cease, but all of society would greatly suffer from it and eventually perish if relief did not come. Therefore, agrarianism involves every one of us and absolutely everything we do. This means that there is a direct connection between our morality (the law and ethics we live by, be it godly or wicked) and sustainable productivity and generational continuity.

This is made very clear by the fact that the ungodly acts of those who disobey God’s law defiles the land upon which they live, which, if not repented of, will bring His wrath in eventually be vomited out of the land. One such violation that brings God’s wrath is sexual perversion, something that is rampant in our nation today, for which the Lord warned His people long ago, lest they be vomited out for doing the same.

Leviticus 18:24-30
24 ‘Do not defile yourselves with any of these things [violations of God’s law]; for by all these the nations are defiled, which I am casting out before you.25 ‘For the land is defiled; therefore I visit the punishment of its iniquity upon it, and the land vomits out its inhabitants.26 ‘You shall therefore keep My statutes and My judgments, and shall not commit any of these abominations, either any of your own nation or any stranger who dwells among you27 ‘(for all these abominations the men of the land have done, who were before you, and thus the land is defiled),28 ‘lest the land vomit you out also when you defile it, as it vomited out the nations that were before you.29 ‘For whoever commits any of these abominations, the persons who commit them shall be cut off from among their people.30 ‘Therefore you shall keep My ordinance, so that you do not commit any of these abominable customs which were committed before you, and that you do not defile yourselves by them: I am the Lord your God.’ “

Disobedience also brings disease (Exo. 15:26), famine & drought (Amos 4:6-7), and other “acts of God.”

Whatever we do—no matter how unrelated to “agrarian type things” we think it is—directly affects the land upon which we dwell . . . either in bringing God’s blessing as we obey Him in employing His word to all we put our hearts, minds, and hands to (Deu. 28:1-14), or in bringing the curses of God as we disobey Him (Deu. 28: 15-46). In as much as fallen man continually seeks to circumvent the consequences of his sin like in his futile efforts to develop cures to the diseases that come from his sins, he cannot stop the justice of God, only delay it so that when they do come in their fullness, the results are dire, as history has repeatedly shown. The same can be said for the agrarian practices he employs that destroys the land and its resources. He may think his usurious, debt-based economics will bring peace and prosperity forever, but it is most assuredly an abomination to the Lord, for which He has already begun to bring dire consequences to our nation. Corporate agribusiness may come up with new chemicals, GMO “biologicals,” and products that temporarily thwart the diseases and problems brought on by its earlier meddling in God’s creation, but it will end up creating biological monsters and disasters for which only the mercy of the Lord can stop.

It is of paramount importance for every Christian to know that they are an agrarian by nature and calling, no matter what their career is, even the scholastic pastor that devotes all his time to study and ministry. In fact, the minister of the Word has an even greater responsibility since is he is to teach his flock to fear God and keep His commandments, teaching them to apply the whole of God’s Word to the whole of life in living out the Gospel of the Kingdom – which is none other than biblical, New Covenant agrarianism – which leads to the building of a godly culture. This old grizzled bearded pastor has been down a long, hard road in the school of Christ to which he finally acknowledges his calling as a pastor to lead the flock of his care in repenting and reforming their ways proactively in seeking first the Kingdom of god and His righteousness, as the salt of the earth and light of the world, the pillar and ground of truth. A farmer I am not, as I would not even begin to compare myself with those talented and hard working people who have devoted their whole lives to farming, but an agrarian I am . . . though I must say that I am most thankful to the Lord for having brought me into the life of a biblically agrarian draft mule logger and pasture farmer novice. I do love working with our long eared ballerinas.

It really does make all the difference for us and our children which specific agrarianism we subscribe to, and the only one that God blesses is the one that fears Him by keeping His commandments in employing His word to everything we put our hearts, minds, and hands to. May we all advance the Gospel by the work of our hands by reforming our ways, as the Lord leads and provides.

What are We Biblical Agrarians to Do?

Posted by Missouri Rev on Mar 4th, 2006

I would like to point you to an article, Cornucopia Institute Opposes Virginia Poultry Proposal —Legislation Could Ban Small Scale/Humane Production, cited by the Reformed Farmer in his most recent blog posting. This article deals with a piece of legislation in Virginia – HR 982 – that could ban any and all outdoor (read non-confinement) chicken farming (even by families for family use) under the guise of the current bird flu scare. HR 982 is no idle threat, by any means, as this type of legislation will be making its way across the nation, thanks to the full backing of the confinement poultry industry, one of the many tentacles of corporate agribusiness. It is yet another effort by the corporate state, in exalting itself as god over mankind, to “save us from ourselves,” that is, to have the dominion as the head over mankind and the earth for the supposed “good of all.” Don’t think for a minute that should this legislation pass that it would remain largely unenforceable. Federal funds are already being sought to empower enforcement at the local level to shut down these “potentially dangerous” poultry operations. This type of legislative salvation has happened many times before in our nation.

First you start by generating real fear through the national and local media until the public gets riled enough to demand “legislative” action, like we have witnessed with the war on terrorism and the subsequent reams of legislation passed and implemented which call for a greatly expanded central government – working, of course, in league with certain appointed corporations and various NGOs (non government organizations) – who, together, step in to save us . . . of course at an astronomical cost and greater governmental control of our lives. Once the legislation has been passed on poultry production and the accompanying enforcement regulations written, all that is needed to gain compliance are a few ruthless, well publicized raids, arrests, and convictions coupled with the implementation of a lucrative informant system and the vast majority of “non-regulated” chicken farming will cease out of fear and real financial ruin.

I can see the billboards now. “Stop the spread of disease and protect your family and neighbors from harm. Dial 1-800-CHICKEN if you know of any unauthorized poultry farms or flocks. All calls are strictly confidential and substantial rewards are given.” History has shown, as was the recent case with the former Soviet Union, that when the public gets word that they can receive easy money from the public largess by simply informing on their neighbor, especially in strict confidentiality, they will do it with gusto. I can also hear the “educated” informant’s rationale for doing such duty, “What’s the big deal anyway, are not the readily available, low-priced chickens and eggs produced by the modern farmers of today, especially under the “careful watch” of the USDA, far safer than the birds and eggs raised by unregulated farmers and families? Do not the federal and corporate authorities in power know what’s best for us since they have done so much expensive research?” You shall not follow a crowd to do evil; nor shall you testify in a dispute so as to turn aside after many to pervert justice (Exo. 23:2).

Just remember that our federal central government inextricably intertwined with all state governments, through its powerful alliance with the Federal Reserve and other strategic corporations, has an endless supply of funds (created through uncontrolled borrowing) at its disposal to empower all corporate takeovers as are deemed necessary to maintain its very real dominion. If you do not believe this is so, just talk to the tens of thousands of families driven off their small family farms in the last 50 years by the “progressive polices” of Uncle Sam and one of his many corporate mistresses, the agribusiness industry. The behemoth global corporations Monsanto and ConAgra, to name a few, are great examples of this cooperative takeover by the corporate state. One corporation backing HR 982 is Delmarva Poultry Industry Inc., a powerful growers’ and processor’s “association,” (read corporation) which heavily promotes the huge confinement operations that supply nearly all of the chickens and eggs Americans consume today.

Here is a quote from the article by Mark Kastel, Senior Farm Policy Analyst for The Cornucopia Institute, “Nothing would make the huge poultry confinement operators happier than to squelch an increasingly popular competitor that consumers are flocking to . . . Consumers have discovered that the purveyors of organic and direct-market eggs and poultry raised in healthy, outdoor conditions offer a superior-tasting product, and that scares the huge confinement operations.”

Bottom-line: “independent farmers,” who produce a far superior product using a means which does not require them to worship at the altar of mammon by going into perpetual debt through consuming a fortune of expensive agribusiness products and methodologies, are a very real threat to those who do, who have “paid their dues” by yoking to the corporate state. The very real public threat is not the bird flu, should God send it, but the incorporated love of money and power – a real cause for such judgment — that debt–based economic systems operate by in gaining and maintaining control of land and the commerce it produces via the corporation, the artificial child of fallen man.

As man is to God a servant expressly created to take dominion of the earth through obedience to God’s Law in and for His glory (Gen. 1:26-28), so fallen man, in suppressing this truth while mimicking the Lord in exalting himself as god (Rom. 1:18-23), has created the corporation – an artificial person – to be his servant in taking dominion of his fellow man and the earth for himself. Read very carefully the legal definition of the corporation given below. It reveals the heart of fallen man to suppress the truth of God’s calling upon him as His servant and God’s right to determine his future (succession) on earth. The corporation is a mechanism of subversion – a legal end around the sovereignty of God – by which man determines for himself, apart from any liability for personal sin, what his future will be and by what means of succession. Fallen man, in “legally” circumventing the direct accountability he has to his Creator and Sovereign Lord to submit to His government and commandments, has birthed through “special denomination” his own artificial child, the corporation, to employ as his agent, directly answerable to him alone, in insuring that he remains the heir of the earth and its nations.

CORPORATION. An artificial person or legal entity created by or under the authority of the laws of a state or nation, composed, in some rare instances, of a single person and his successors, being the incumbents of a particular office, but ordinarily consisting of an association of numerous individuals, who subsist as a body politic under a special denomination, which is regarded in law as having a personality and existence distinct from that of its several members, and which is, by the same authority, vested with the capacity of continuous succession, irrespective of changes in its membership, either in perpetuity or for a limited term of years, and of acting as a unit or single individual in matters relating to the common purpose of the association, within the scope of the powers and authorities conferred upon such bodies by law. (Black’s Law Dictionary, 4th Edition -West Publishing Company, St. Paul, Minn., 1968, p. 409)

Just as important, however, the corporation has become a very effectual tool in blocking lawful interposition by biblical authorities (family, church, and civil) in intervening against the actions of those who seek to control their lives, liberty, and property for their own ends. They accomplish this solely by greatly empowering their corporate children by means of debt-based, usurious, fiat currency economics — the mother’s milk that grows the healthy bones and muscled sinews that comprise dominating pagan cultures.

Though it may be some time before a total takeover is accomplished, I believe it will happen to poultry farming as it has with nearly every other aspect of our economy and culture. What are we biblical agrarians to do? As I have said before, it is not enough to just buy land and start small family farms and businesses, important as this is. Who will interpose on our behalf when the corporate state comes to take dominion of our land and business through the long arm of legislation and economic reappraisal? We have gone long enough in generational pietist retreatism; the results have been absolutely disastrous.

The current agrarian movement among the Lord’s elect will die in its infancy if they do not see and act upon the fact that it entails the total, simultaneous reformation — spiritual, political, economic, educational, agricultural, etc. — of themselves (first and foremost) and the culture that surrounds them. More so, this type of biblical reformation begins with cultural secession, a term that makes most believers squirm in their shoes, since most “secessions” in human history have been bloody reactions to men and not the proactive actions of believers in separating from the unbeliever — wherein they have been unequally yoked — to turn back to their Lord in covenantal faithfulness (Neh 9:32 – 10:29). Now, before I give the express commandment under the New Covenant for cultural secession, as given by the apostle Paul, let me first give the definition for secession so you can see the clear connection between it and the commandment given by Paul.

Secession, n. [L. seccesio. See Secede.] 1. The act of withdrawing, particularly from fellowship and communion. (The American Dictionary Of The English Language, Noah Webster, 1828)

Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness? And what accord has Christ with Belial? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever? And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living God. As God has said: “I will dwell in them and walk among them. I will be their God, and they shall be My people.” Therefore “Come out from among them And be separate, says the Lord. Do not touch what is unclean, And I will receive you.” 18 “I will be a Father to you, And you shall be My sons and daughters, Says the Lord Almighty” (2 Cor. 6:14-18).

This process of biblical secession (separation) is not a form of reactive retreatism achieved through pietistic legalism, as is so common among so many Christian’s today, but proactive dominion achieved through faithful covenant-keeping where the ongoing growth of the new culture displaces the wicked culture surrounding it. The only way this can be achieved, as incredibly daunting as it truly is, is for it to start locally where God’s people living in close proximity covenant with one another to seek first — in their lives, marriages, churches, and communities — the Kingdom and crown rights of the Lord Jesus Christ and that according to His righteous standards as laid out in both testaments of the Scriptures. This is no easy task, as it absolutely requires the taking up of the cross of Christ by every participant in humbling themselves before the Lord in true repentance and reformation. The days of autonomous Christianity in America are coming to end, as evidenced by the righteous judgments of God in putting His people under an ever growing central government until they repent. The days of faithful covenant keeping, Lord willing, are beginning. Even so, come Lord Jesus and have thy way with your flock. — The Missouri Rev

Generational Sowing and Reaping — An Agrarian Understanding of History

Posted by Missouri Rev on Jan 29th, 2006

Finally, I am able to post to my blog! It’s likely that it has been so long since I last posted that you have long given up on me, which I wouldn’t blame you for anyhow, but I think what I am posting today was worth waiting for. If you would prefer, I could post a little something every week, but it may only be to stay in touch and perhaps post smaller articles or even updates as to what we are doing here. Please let me know. As I said before, for me blogging is like sending letters home from the war front, so I suppose that it would be in order to at least report in enough to keep you from wondering whether I am MIA or AWOL.

Being a pastor that struggles like the rest who are making the very difficult transition into biblical community and covenantal agrarianism, I find it most difficult to spend the time writing and posting something that I consider worthwhile, which is not say that those of you that post frequently do not post worthwhile things. Indeed you do and I enjoy them immensely, but it’s hard for me to keep up with writing, even as much as I love it, when I have so many hats that I wear.

Once again this latest posting, Generational Sowing and Reaping – An Agrarian Understanding of History, is far too long to post in the main body of the blog, so I have posted it on the web where you can read it and/or print it (the links are directly below). Though I start with a “Paul Harvey” type story from Missouri history to get you interested in the post, the heart of it is learning how to understand history rightly (biblically) so we can draw the right conclusions, learn its true lessons, and make the right application. Contrary to a lot of pragmatic baloney about history being largely worthless to the present generation, it has everything to do with where we are now and where we going into the future. Quoting from the article, Human history is, thus, an agrarian story of generational sowing and reaping, both for good and evil, where the obedient or disobedient acts of man, individually or corporately, act as planted seeds which produce a harvest of consequences which the generations that follow must live or die with.” I have used some of Missouri’s and our country’s history to make this very critical point, which I hope you find interesting and useful. Since it largely deals with the War of Northern Aggression, you “Southrons” and other freedom loving patriots might find this article interesting as well.

This URL: Generational Sowing and Reaping — leads you to a website where you can read and print the article, which includes many pictures. It’s in PDF format. If you do not have the software to open it, you can download it for free at this site: Adobe Reader Download: all versions

Now, for those of you that do not know what biblical agrarianism is—don’t run away—as it is not as bad, bizarre, or boring as it sounds. We are talking about building, through God’s grace and providential care, a godly culture by means of biblical, generational reformation and restoration—where family and land are not strangers to each other, where we enjoy the work of our hands as being truly productive by God’s grace, where we build a tangible, God-blessed culture in which our children can build their futures from, where our neighbors and community are like-minded, god-fearing Christians, where the lost can see firsthand by God’s blessing upon us the Gospel of the Kingdom we profess . . . in short, it is living on God’s green earth as unto Him and as He intended. Do I believe God has intended for His people to live on the earth a certain way . . . absolutely and it is good, contrary to the “Christian” defeatist pragmatism of today, though, as history has clearly shown, we most likely will suffer the wrecking ball of God’s justice and mercy in the process, as there has been much built in the last several generations that is ungodly and counterproductive.

God bless and please comment on the article, thank you.

The Missouri Rev

Technology – by Whom and by What Standard?

Posted by Missouri Rev on Dec 20th, 2005

Greetings one and all! Like most bloggers I know, I have been so busy of late that blogging has had to be put on the backburner, so I apologize for not posting any sooner. It is my belief that at least for the next few generations the more we enter into living out biblical agrarianism the less time we will likely have to write about it. But write we must, as we can use all of the encouragement and biblical experiential light (Rom. 5:3-5) we can get in beginning the pioneering process of rebuilding our once Christian republic, a daunting task that will span many generations, if history proves to be a good measure. I say this because I believe, given the dreadful though biblically justified state of captivity the Church finds itself in today (read Neh. 9 carefully), that we all face a long road of humbling by the hand of God as He works in His people true, lasting repentance in turning from their own ways back to Him in rebuilding the foundations of Christian culture. This long, toilsome road will require extraordinary perseverance and steadfast covenantal faithfulness that will tax our souls, bodies, and relationships as never imagined, especially in this age of technological ease and comfort that, if we are willing to admit it, has significantly softened us as soldiers of Christ. More so, “American Christendom” has come to distain personal sacrifice and pain as religious foolishness and wholly unnecessary in this age of “common grace and prosperity.”

Please do not misunderstand me. As much as anyone else, I greatly appreciate the daily comforts that come from modern technology, but they are not entirely necessary or useful for the maturing of our Christian faith and the advancement of God’s Kingdom. The success of the early Christian colonies on our eastern seaboard are ample proof of this fact. In the case of our self-serving, licentious culture, much of technology has become an empowering agent for autonomy and, as such, has become an idol. All things are lawful for me, but all things are not helpful. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any. I believe there is ample evidence that it has also become an idol to many Christians who have put their trust in it as the primary means for their daily provision and source for generational success and continuity. Just try banning usurious economics, the most powerful form of financial technology known to fallen man, and mammon worshippers both from within and without the Church will be after you in a heartbeat, claiming that they will be doing God a service in stopping such “cultural genocide.”

I greatly appreciate Scott Terry’s recent post, Agrarians and Technology. He addresses the issue of progress and technology from a biblical agrarian viewpoint, one that needs to be carefully addressed and rightly acted upon. In my opinion, the whole issue comes down to one question. By whom and by what standard do we define progress and create and implement technology? Is it reduced to that which merely helps man? What is helping man? Is it limited to whatever he determines by and for himself? Does the pot know what’s best for itself . . . or does not the Potter know what’s best for the pot? Will the thing formed say to him who formed it, “Why have you made me like this?” Since man was implicitly created to serve the Lord on the earth as His earthly steward (husbandman), all progress as it concerns man’s care and use of the earth and his relationship to his Maker and fellow beings is defined and governed by the Lord, without exception. Therefore, to step outside the boundaries of God, as clearly established in His word, in living out our lives daily and planning for the future (progress) is to declare independence from Him, which is autonomous rebellion no matter “how progressive” it appears. He who is not with Me is against Me, and he who does not gather with Me scatters abroad. Man shall not live by progress or technology alone but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.

Technology is not some neutral thing that falls outside the jurisdiction of God’s law, thus it can never be something that automatically benefits mankind “in the name of progress.” Though technology in and of itself cannot do good or evil, since it is not a conscience soul accountable to God, it can, however, be the extending arm for good or for evil, as done by man. For example, the actual paper and chemicals that make up a photograph are not evil in and of themselves (though how they are manufactured could be in potentially destroying the biblical sustainability of the earth – another related subject). It is why they come together as a photograph that makes all of the difference. A photo of a godly wedding taken to testify of God’s greatness and blessing in putting families together is biblically lawful. A photo of a “gay wedding” taken to promote sodomy is profanity, plain and simple, as it clearly violates the restraining Laws of God as it regards the conduct and relationships of fallen man. Because of the total depravity of man and his inherent rebellion against God, everything he does is to be governed and constrained by the righteous cords and bonds of God’s Law. Though this is clearly for the good of all, a demonstration of God’s love, fallen man bristles at the notion that all he does, without exception, is subject to his Maker. What kind of God is this that would not let His human creation define for itself who they are and what is right and wrong?

Not only does God’s Law restrict what images man may make, contrary to man’s claims that he has “rights to freedom of speech,” but it also restricts how man procures and uses earth’s resources in making and implementing the technology that makes the images. Man is not a free agent to strip-mine the earth as he pleases. He is not free to strip-farm the land to get the most profits out it, only to discard it later because it is no longer farmable. Nor is he free to abuse or alter the creation, no matter how progressive it appears or what immediate benefit he claims it gives. The earth is the Lord’s, and all its fullness, The world and those who dwell therein. “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.’ ”

Mankind is to procure and use the resources of the earth that God gives him in a biblical manner that honors the Lord and sustains the earth for future generations, and this according to God’s definition of sustainability and progress, such as we find in Psalms 37 and 103:17-19. Likewise, all technology created to achieve these purposes are governed by the same definitions and laws. History has irrefutably proven that when mankind attempts to throw off the righteous cords and bonds of God’s Law that govern this stewardship, God righteously judges them in His perfect displeasure . . . often by letting them reap over time the consequences of the evil intentions and inventions of their hearts. This also applies to technology, since it has a large impact on the sustainability of the land for future generations, though not nearly as large as man’s rebellion to God’s moral Laws, which defiles the land (Lev. 18:24-27). There is only one form of agrarianism pleasing to God and that is His form as established by His Law. All other forms of agrarianism are not pleasing, including our own usurious, corporate based industrialism, though many swear by it because of the immediate benefit it seems to produce. Those benefits are rapidly dwindling as the realities of generational covenant breaking come crashing down around our heads. There is a way that seems right to a man, But its end is the way of death (Pro. 14:12).

The answer lies with covenantal faithfulness to the Lord, as clearly laid out in Deuteronomy 28:1-14, where God defines biblical agrarianism in terms of obedience to His Laws and the generational blessings He bestows both upon His people and the land they dwell in. Even so, there are many misconceptions by Christians about biblical agrarianism, which run to extremes at both ends. It does not mean living without technology as “backward primitives” in a regressive society that falls ever behind the progress of modern man, as some claim. Neither does it mean using each and every technology that comes along as if it were automatically the will of God. Bigger and more intelligent is not necessarily better. I’d much rather live in a world where individual men must face each other eye-to-eye and hand-to-hand in combat, as bloody and frightening as this is, then to live in the present one we have created where highly sophisticated, highly accurate, nuclear weapons can be launched by an unseen enemy thousands of miles away, which can annihilate millions in seconds with little warning. That’s not progress, that’s arrogant insanity!

Biblical agrarianism simply means stewarding God’s earth (and all of it is His) according to His (Law) Word, which is the sole, transcendent, and final standard for the whole of man for the whole of life. This applies to not only everything man does individually, but to every aspect of culture for which he is an accountable member before God, no matter what status or occupation he finds himself in.

Everyone is an agrarian because everyone lives on God’s land, breathes His air, and uses His resources to sustain their lives. This makes the stock market guru on the 101st floor of a New York skyscraper just as accountable to God as an agrarian as the Iowa farmer working his fields, for he is directly accountable to Him:

  • for how he lives – by whom and by what standard,
  • for how he procures and uses the earth’s resources – by whom and by what standard,
  • for the moral, economic, and civil structures he supports and uses, which act as an extension in obtaining the things necessary to his daily existence – by whom and by what standard,
  • for every technology created – by whom and by what standard,
  • and for the laws and mechanisms of deployment by which he plans his future – by whom and by what standard.

More so, every culture, every form of technology used to build it, and every definition of human progress that defines it exhibits an agrarian model, whether of God and by His standards or of man by his standards.

God gifts His creature man with intellectual and creative capabilities, talents, and, most importantly, a conscience governed by His law to guide his thoughts and actions in serving Him. Even in his fallen, depraved state he willfully suppresses the truth of God his Maker (Rom. 1:18-32), for which he is fully accountable, no matter how much he may claim innocence or ignorance. As God’s creature made in His image and called to govern His creation on earth, man was called to create and use technology to fulfill his call as a husbandman of the land. Technology is not, therefore, a problem, it is by whom and by what standard it is made and implemented that the problem lies. This applies to all technologies – financial, governmental, agricultural, manufacturing, etc. – literally everything that man sets his mind and hand to do in governing the earth under its King, Jesus Christ. Knowing and believing this is half the battle, because our Lord has given us His written word and His indwelling Spirit, working by way of the regeneration, to achieve His purposes on earth, which includes blessing you and your children to His praise and glory. But the mercy of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear Him, and His righteousness to children’s children, to such as keep His covenant, and to those who remember His commandments to do them. The Lord has established His throne in heaven, and His kingdom rules over all.

Sell That Last Team!

Posted by Missouri Rev on Oct 23rd, 2005

My fellow bloggers, being new at this thing called blogging, I haven’t learned how often to post. I can’t help wonder if posting too much or too quickly causes some of the posts to be skipped over or not commented on. What is your experience on this?

The piece that follows my musings appeared in the 1946 Suffolk Bulletin, which I got from the book, The Draft Horse Primer (the bolding is mine for emphasis). The writer was an experienced draft-horse farmer from New Jersey that was a leader in Suffolk horse breeding. His piece was written in response to an article in Farm Journal by True Morse of Doane’s Agricultural Services that called for farmers to “sell that last team” and move into the more efficient and profitable technology of internal combustion tractors and related machinery. The author had a keen sense of wisdom and was able to fairly accurately predict, in noted frustration and sorrow, the downfall of the American “family-sized” farm. Though not put in these words, he recognized in the booming days following WWII that the scale of farming in America had been dramatically altered — through technology born of debt-based economics — from family-sized to something far bigger that could only be profitable if one “invested in” and utilized the “larger power units” produced through corporate industrialism, which, on top of equipment payments, required the farmer to constantly pay cash out of his own pocket for gas, oil, repairs, and replacement. History has clearly shown that this caused the overwhelming majority of family-sized farmers to throw in the towel or regress from being self-sustained producers to consumers and sustaining cogs of industrialized agribusiness, for which the vast majority ultimately ended in bankruptcy. He succumbed to the handwriting on the wall, as he felt that under “current conditions” he could not afford to work horses and be competitive. If only he could have laid hold of a copy of You Can Farm. Read it and weep.

My reason to publish this was not to beat the drum of a “back to Eden” technophobe who hates all technology, as I am certainly not — else I would be writing this on the back of elm bark with a turkey feather dipped in the ink made from blackberries and sending it to you via carrier pigeon or the Pony Express. But rather to recognize the scale and technology of God’s wonderful creation and to help promote for consideration and discussion two interrelated elements of biblical sustainable agriculture: first, the use of God’s creation technology in farming, as Joel Salatin has done so well in working his land with the labor and (God-ordained) biological processes of beef, poultry, turkeys, rabbits, pigs, etc.; and second, the creation and use of human technology that complements the Lord’s creation both in scale and purpose, according to His Word. A third area naturally arises from this discussion and that is the synergy that is developed between God’s creation and man’s creation (under Him), as in the example of a man that works a team of draft horses hitched to a harrow or other manmade machinery.

Being just an enthusiastic student and quasi-journalist of biblical agrarianism and not a “frontlines” farmer, as some of you are, I readily admit that I speak from learning and not from experience, at least thus far, though a shepherd “worth his salt” can hardly lead the charge in taking dominion through biblical agrarianism without getting his fingers dirty, brow sweaty, and boots caked in the black gold of cow manure . . . Lord willing. I look forward to the comments of one and all, and especially of seasoned veterans of sustainable agriculture. The Missouri Rev

—- As I gave up the use of the horse with greatest reluctance, I have examined my reasons for doing so very carefully and feel I can give all the answers as to why they cannot be used with some authority. But there are still serious questions in my mind.

Consider, first, the investment in power machinery as compared to horse-drawn machinery. Last winter, when offering to sell some of my useless equipment, I went back through the records to determine what I had paid for some of it. It now costs about as much for a single tire for a tractor as it cost for a sulky corn cultivator about eight years ago. One could then equip an entire farm for what a tractor and cultivator now cost. Can farming support such an investment?

Consider the size of farm needed to utilize the larger power units such as the field harvester, the pick-up baler, and the combine. I find one of each adequate for the operation of my large unit. Custom work has proven unsatisfactory in most cases. Can the American farmer work out a plan for joint neighbor ownership of this equipment or does this spell the end of the family-sized farm?

Consider the cost of upkeep. Mr. Morse gives figures for the cost of keeping a team, the income from the extra cows, and cost of operating a tractor. Will the income from the cow stay where it is now? Can we overlook the fact that the cost of keeping a team is largely money paid back to oneself for hay, oats, and labor, while the cost of operating a tractor is cash out of pocket for gas, oil, repairs, and replacement?

Consider also the broad economic aspects of the problem. Should the day come when the farmer is again faced with ruinous surpluses, will these not be much greater than they were when the acres that went to feeding horses will grow crops to sell? And what of our dwindling natural resources of petroleum? Will we eventually raise crops that are sold to be processed into fuel, to be repurchased by us to burn in our own tractors, where we now have available a hay-burner of our own?

Under present conditions, I cannot afford to work horses. But the change from horse to tractor farming is a profound change. As a result the farmer will lose a measure of his independence; his fate will be more closely linked to the strength and effectiveness of organized labor; the family-sized farm may be the next aspect of rural life to be found obsolete and uneconomical.—-

The Heart of Biblical Agrarianism – HTM Version

Posted by Missouri Rev on Oct 18th, 2005

Fellow bloggers, since it has been difficult for some of you to open the pdf version of the article mentioned in the previous posting, for which I apologize, I have posted it as a standard HTM file, which your Internet browser should open automatically. I hope that helps. Here is the new link:
http://datavisionservices.com/Articles/HBA4.htm

The Heart of Biblical Agrarianism

Posted by Missouri Rev on Oct 17th, 2005

Greetings one and all. Because this post is comprised of an article I wrote entitled, The Heart of Biblical Agrarianism, which is eleven pages in length, I thought it wise to give you a link to it, rather than paste it into the confined window of my blogging template.

Here is the link:

The Heart of Biblical Agrarianism.

It is in a PDF format, as I believe most people on the Internet these days can open PDF documents. If you do not have the software to open it, you can download it for free at this site: Adobe Reader Download: all versions

I strongly believe that if we do not understand the biblical foundations and basis behind the actions we take in God’s name, we start out on the wrong foot which leads to frustration and failure for we labor in vain if the Lord does not the build the house. Returning to true biblical agrarianism, even by God’s grace and leading, is no easy task, as many bloggers who are doing it can testify. This is why I greatly appreciate Scott Terry’s blog and other like-minded ones. It thus behooves us to understand the scope of the task God has set before us and His laws which are to govern it. This is especially true when it comes to stewarding the land God has given us while establishing godly inheritances by which we can sustain a generational continuity blessed of Him. This is all the more vital, given the rapidly deteriorating condition of our nation today. Thanks for dropping in, sorry it took a while to get this posted. There is more coming soon.

The Reluctant Blogger

Posted by Missouri Rev on Oct 7th, 2005

Alas, the reluctant blogger has finally published for the first time to the Rural Missourian, such as it is. From the number of bloggers that take vacations from blogging, I can see that it’s going to take a fair amount of time to keep up on it. We’ll see how long I last. Most of you know me through my preaching, the lengthy e-mail commentaries I send out from time to time, or the comments I make on other blogs. Welcome all!

Yesterday noon, I went with my wife Carmen and daughter Susan to glean the field of a local truck farmer close to where we live. He grows tomatoes, squash, beans, cantaloupe, watermelon, and other vegetables. With the first freeze coming on I contacted the farmer and got his permission to glean before the frost would destroy what produce was left, which was actually considerable. As the tomatoes that remain were “the wrong size and shape to sell,” I could take all I wanted, as he had finished with them about two weeks earlier. I was stunned. There were easily 50,000 abandoned ripe tomatoes, the vast majority of which were rotting. We were able to harvest about 100 lbs of good tomatoes, which are quite delicious and well worth the hour’s sweat. Susan made a wonderful “fresh” tomato soup last night; it really hit the spot with the cold weather and all. We were also permitted to glean a small amount of zucchini and yellow squash, as the farmer was planning on coming that afternoon to make a final harvest. Even here there were thousands of cut squash left to rot because they were the “wrong size.” We are most grateful that he allowed us to glean his land; he certainly could have said no, especially with all of the lawsuits these days.

Now I am not a farmer (at least for now) but I know that there is going to be a certain amount of produce that goes unharvested and will eventually be plowed under, but this seems a bit wasteful, at least from the view of making a living as a farmer. There are cheaper ways to manure the soil than to plow under produce that took a lot of labor and money to bring to maturity. I realize the great global market has “standards” – in size, shape, and color – which the farmer must comply with to get his market share. The way I see it though, he has greatly limited himself catering to any market as simply a produce salesman. If he were to add value to what he grows by his own labor he could produce may products which could use the “non standard” produce left abandoned. Think of the delicious salsa he could have made with the 50,000 tomatoes. Having been in various businesses throughout the years, I also recognize he must have a market for the salsa in order to sell it, but this is where the tire meets the soil, so-to-speak, where one develops his markets first and then provides the various products for it.

On another note, I visited the other day with a retired farmer and his wife who live just down the road. Though I have permission to hunt on their land, I always check in every now and then just to see how they are doing. Besides, there is such a wealth of wisdom to be gained every time I visit them. He is 92 and she is 91. In musing about his farming days he shared a humorous story with me. Until he purchased his first tractor in 1944, he had been, like his father, farming with a team of horses. The day he bought his tractor and plow he took them into the field behind his house to give them a try. He just got started when the plow stuck on something and released itself, wherein he shouted at the top of his lungs WHOA!! He said it didn’t take but a second to realize what he did, wherein he looked around sheepishly to see if anyone heard him give verbal orders to his tractor.

After a good laugh, he hesitated for a long quiet moment while musing upon those days before stating that by and far the hardest thing he ever did as a farmer was to sell his beloved team of horses, for he knew that they went to meat (the dog food cannery), even though he sold them to a neighbor who wasn’t directly in this business. Tens of thousands of well bred, well trained horses and mules went to the cannery during the days when our nation transitioned to tractors. Decades later and many thousands of dollars in debt with little profit and satisfaction left in farming, many of these farmers regret having left the simplicity of the small farm they once worked with joy.

His son, a farmer, who also delivers mail full time and runs a part time saw mill to make ends meet, told me that he no longer has any heart to farm, so he will likely hang unto the mail job as long as he can to keep his benefits until he retires and then just run the saw mill. Meanwhile, his son, a full time farmer, comes into the house to show his grandfather the hames of the harness from his great grandfather’s team that he is restoring so he can display them on his living room wall. The grandson’s wife is a little perturbed about this whole endeavor since he has been delaying putting their expensive combine into their fields to do the harvesting of the year’s corn and soybeans. He then reminds her that the fields are still too muddy for his behemoth machine. Before leaving to go work on an enormous piece of farm machinery the grandson proudly mentioned that he just built a new door for one of their sheds from their own lumber, which he cut and milled. On this door he attached a small placard he carved that has on it the name of the family farm and its founding date, 1854. Boy, we sure have come a long way haven’t we?