It’s Time to Make the Voyage

Posted by Missouri Rev on Nov 15th, 2005

It was only a few days ago that I was greeted at dawn with a bright sun and delightfully warm and perfectly humid breeze seasoned with the rich smells of the Missouri woods. Early this morning, being the deer hunting season of course, I arose to a swirling dense fog interspersed with rain showers, thunder, a cold biting wind, and eventually snow! . . . not exactly good hunting weather, but a great time to make my Peruvian style cup of coffee and grab a moment to write a few words for my blog. Blogging is like writing home while doing duty in some foreign land; it is something one does in the quiet moments between the many hours of unrelenting hard work. I look forward to the day, Lord willing, when all of us can come home to real, Christian agrarian communities where we converse face-to-face over a delightful, homegrown meal before our hearths or at the local cafe where likeminded and covenanted believers fellowship together in the warm atmosphere of true Christian culture. The MRE’s (Meals Ready to Eat) of blogging, though a vital sustenance and encouragement to the many scattered troops of God’s kingdom who seek a common culture, do not compare to the daily snacks and satisfying meals of true Christian community.

I am very thankful to the Lord for having moved my family to this rural farming area in the heart of America. Taking the call of a small church with only two members in a worn-out old town of 200 with only a Post Office and neighborhood pop machine would to many appear to be insanity, but it has been a real godsend for us – tribulations, heartaches, and all. Though I have only taken a few infant steps towards a full Christian agrarian life and having by no means arrived, I wouldn’t trade what God has given us for anything. Being largely a city boy, though I have spent many years hunting and fishing, the marvels of rural life have made a deep, permanent impression upon me. Even after five years the wonder of it has not worn off, but only increased, as I only grow more enthralled, rooted, and blessed in this splendid land, even with its thorns, bugs, and sweltering Augusts, not to mention an occasional household guest like I had last spring. One would be amazed at who and what comes for a visit when a basement door is left open for an extended period of time in rural Missouri.

I was sitting at this very computer last spring when I heard a loud noise of something falling to the floor in one of the nearby rooms. Realizing that it was not my wife or daughter and being a former cop with an ingrain sense of investigation, I commenced to find the source of this “suspicious noise.” Having found nothing and turning back down the hall I noticed that caught in the bottom of the crack of an opened door there appeared to be a black electric cord. Around it were scattered nails and screws from a can that had fallen to floor, which was the source of the noise. With my eyes I followed the cord up the crack as it grew in size until I reached eye level where I was met nearly nose-to-nose by a jet black snake of robust stature, who had been patiently staring at me with humor because of my blindness of his presence. Suffice it to say, the instantaneous flow of adrenalin brought about my immediate airborne flight backwards. Having returned to earth and after sufficiently calming myself down, I soon realized that the snake was not poisonous, being a beautiful specimen of the invaluable black rat snake, so I caught him in his hasty retreat — airborne as well I imagine as any normal snake would, having come face-to-face with a bearded, enormous giant — whereupon he immediately coiled himself around my bare arm in peaceful surrender and started flicking his forked tongue at me in SOS signals only snakes can understand. Being a self-induced herpetologist from youth (growing up in the rich deserts of Arizona with its myriad of reptiles seems to contribute to such an odd disposition), I made every attempt to get my family to come close for a good observation and lesson in biology, homeschooling at its best. It was an adamant no go!, like the time I tried to get them to come closer to a small, but angry, rattlesnake I had cornered with my walking stick while hiking in the foothills of the Colorado Rockies. With my wife and daughter steadfastly remaining at a healthy distance, I took the blissful creature back outside and released him in a wood pile a good distance from where he gained entrance. All in all, it was a delightful visit, though I think keeping the door closed would be a good idea, especially as it relates to family harmony and the fact that I would like to eat home cooked meals again.

With all of the para-church “ministries” these days like bowlers for Jesus and Cancun vacationers for Christ, maybe room can be made for all of us part-time homespun biologists of the kingdom that love the handiwork of the Lord. It is an unceasing delight for me to behold the creation of God here in rural Ray County — the springtime crops newly sprouted in the rich black fields and the lush flowered pastures, all poised gracefully together like green velveteen fingers interlaced between rolling hills thickly forested with hardwoods. The humid air laden with the splendid smells of bogs and forest floors matted with composting leafs, fallen nuts, and hedge apples. The patchwork of fields carpeted in red clover and graced with fat whitetail deer and nervous turkey. The gloriously loud orchestras of birds, insects, frogs, and feisty squirrels that meet at the height of the summer to sing the praises of their Creator while waves of iridescent light roll across the corn fields at twilight when millions of fire flies gather to dance their annual mating rituals while swarming the nearby trees like swirling strings of twinkling Christmas lights. The magnificent Indian summers and fall harvests rich with apples, pumpkins, hog roasts, bon fires, and fish fries of plump sunfish caught at the local pond. The October forests, like proud peacocks, that briefly display their brilliant plumage of red, orange, and yellow leaves, only to be followed by a more humble period when they look more like tousled, ragged chickens in the middle of a heavy molt. The winter fields that sleep quietly with a blanket of frosted corn stubble while their nearest neighbor, the winter woods, stands rigid like a cold sentinel doing picket duty – all a kaleidoscope of mottled browns and grays shrouded with thick fogs that moan in the sharp cold winds while flocks of crows accompany this lonely music with their occasional raucous calls. The magnificent, diverse cornucopia of God’s creation openly declares His invisible attributes and glorious love, who could miss it?

Mankind in all his economic might, technological savvy, and corporate prowess could never reproduce even one small element of this grand landscape, even with all his powerful “virtual world” capabilities he only mimics His Creator in futile profanity. Ever visit the Kansas City Zoo or the zoo of Kansas City? Man was created to be a faithful steward, not a strip-mining consumer and it is only a matter of time before creation itself rightly vomits him out (Lev. 18:27-28) as an unfaithful husbandman. Besides, who can surpass the marvelous living technology and wisdom found in God’s creation? Why would anyone want to? Why have we become so enamored with the plastic trinkets and pop metal gadgets that rule our virtual world of entertainment and convenience? Why do we eat industrial “food” made with GMO products laced with antibiotics and chemicals? Why do the vast majority of American Christians live in “bedroom communities,” i.e., worker barracks, and commute great distances to jobs and churches while at the same time they adamantly vocalize their concern for the ongoing deterioration of the Christian family and society? Oh the madness of the generational covenantal betrayal that has deceived us all! How is it that Christians everywhere, being deeply dissatisfied with the dead industrial life of a pagan, corporate culture and yearning deeply for real Christian culture, can remain day after day and year after year in the squallored ghettos of pagan dominion, without moving towards God in repentance and reformation, especially when God has promised so much in his Word to those that love Him and keep His commandments? Rather than embark on the voyage that leads across the ocean to the shores of a God-blessed agrarian culture, we stand around on paved parking lots at the dock, pontificating on the virtues of agrarianism while comparing each others equipment, maps, compasses, strategies, and plans we have put together to make the journey, or so we claim. It’s time we all go from theory to practice, it is now time we all cross the Atlantic by faith, while we are still free to make the passage. The Missouri Rev

News Clips from the Old’n Days of the “Show Me” State

Posted by Missouri Rev on Nov 5th, 2005

I was musing about the last post I did on the various unknown names for animal groups. Though our forefathers came up with wonderful ones that befitted their culture, like an exaltation of larks or skulk of vermin, why not come up with a few that befit ours? In naming the slow, but sure progress and patience of the Lord’s faithful remnant when being run roughshod by a lightning fast, pagan culture, how about a triumph of turtles? In speaking about the majority of American Christendom that does all it can to keep up with the lightning fast heathen culture around them, how about a congregation of lemmings? Since a skulk of vermin might be too antiquated to be appreciated, why not rename it a congress of rats? I look forward to your word inventions.

Below are a number of old, long forgotten news clips from the “Show Me” state, which I find quite charming. Now there’s a word that has changed much over the years. I particularly enjoy the different vocabulary, use of words, and the witticism. You can add at least one more word to your animal vocabulary – ratulency – though it is likely you’ll only find it in the dusty archives of Missouri colloquialisms. Don’t you wish the news today was as uncomplicated and subdued? Now, it seems that for something to make the news it has to be vile, bloody, corrupt, perverted, or humanistically do-gooderistic. The culture makes the news. By no means was the American culture of the 1800’s pure and without fault, but even then it was far more simple and morally aright, especially in the agrarian rural areas where faith and hard work went hand in hand. In “tipping my hat” to the Homesteader’s young son John and his first successful coon trapping, I have included a few stories about trapping. — The Missouri Rev

Where Two or Three Houses are Gathered Together, there Stands a Missouri Village

From the Troy Lincoln County Herald, February 10, 1870 — The Village of Sweet Home, in Nodaway County, was almost totally destroyed by fire recently. Only one house was left standing. Before the fire there were two.

Trapped by Love

From the Maysville Register, January 16, 1901 — A Skunk-skin opera-clock graced the dress circle of the Tootle’s Opera-house at St. Joe the other night. It was worn by a rural belle, who was accompanied by the male companion that had slain the fragrant little animals whose hides were thus sacrificed for his beloved.

Bureau, Burro, Baffled

From the Osceola Sun, September 8, 1881 — The Missouri Pacific railroad company has an agent at Warrensburg that is entitled to a chromo. Some one in New Mexico shipped a “borro” to Warrensburg. When it arrived, the agent on examining his bills took the item to mean a bureau. After making diligent search for the furniture and not finding it, he reported to headquarters as follows: One bureau short, and one jackass over.

The Missing Tale of the Audrain County Rat

From the Paris (Mo.) Herald, March 27, 1877 –Some of our Audrain County friends along the Monroe County line were badly sold out one day last week. They were engaged in catching and untailing rats for the five cent bounty offered by the Audrain County court for rat tails. After they had about exterminated the rat tribe in the immediate neighborhood where they were slaying, they espied in the dim distance a large gentleman rat making for the Monroe County line. At once about half a dozen of Audrain’s sons of toil were on the chase, and, with the speed of an Antelope, they pursued his ratulency into Monroe, overtook and slew him, when to their amazement and disgust, they found that he was minus a tail!

Soured by Texas Cherries

From the Boonville Weekly Eagle, January 1, 1875 —
A.H. C. Koontz is rather inclined to be waggish at times, and he sometimes perpetuates jokes even at the expense of old folks. The other day an old lady and her daughter from the country were in the store, when the former seeing a barrel of cranberries setting near the door, called out:
“Mr. Koontz, what are these things here in this barrel?”
“Those are Texas cherries, madam,” remarked K., as he went on attending to his customers.
The old ladies [sic] curiosity was evidently excited and she could not resist the temptation to help herself to a few of the berries. After cracking them between her teeth, her face evidently showed signs of extreme anguish, when she called to her daughter:
“Sal, come here. These are cherries from Texas—just taste them.” Sal instantly obeyed, and a terrible scowl flew over her countenance. She turned to her confiding mother, and remarked: “If that’s the kind of fruit they raise in Texas I’m not going there to live. I shall write to Sam that he needn’t come after me. That I will.”
The twain left the store evidently thoroughly disgusted with Texas and everything it produces.

A “Murmuration” of Starlings

Posted by Missouri Rev on Nov 2nd, 2005

I recently saw a murmuration of starlings fly over, that is right, a murmuration.  Try having your spell checker recognize that one.  As I am always trying to improve my writing skills, I ran across several names for groups of animals that are most interesting.  The English language is rich or, might I add, was rich in such amazing descriptions of God’s creatures, as it is in so many things, but over time they have largely disappeared through ignorance and lack of use.  Much of this can be blamed on the fine job the state does in lobotomizing its students in the public school system.  Being myself a product of the public school system, for which it has taken me years by God’s grace to rectify through steady self education, I had no clue there were such magnificent names until now.  This could get really fun!!  

Most of us are aware of the typical names such as a colony of ants, flock of birds, pride of lions, herd of cattle, covey of quail, flock of sheep, pod of whales, swarm of bees, gaggle of geese, and now the murmuration of starlings.  But were you aware of a shrewdness of apes, pace of asses, cete of badgers, sloth of bears, gang of buffalos, covert of coots, plump of ducks, gang of elk, charm of finches, skulk of foxes, knot of frogs, drift of hogs, kindle of kittens, exaltation of larks, sord of mallards, pod of meadowlarks, watch of nightingales, muster of peacocks, nide of pheasants, bevy of quail, trip of seals, wisp of snipe, host of sparrows, spring of teal, skulk of vermin, gam of whales, clowder of wildcats, skein of wild fowl, sounder of wild hogs, or fall of woodcocks?  Nearly half of these words show up as miss spelled by my trusty spell checker.  Now that you agrarians have had your animal kingdom vocabulary increased, think of the fun you can have in rightly describing the various critters you might steward or see, let alone the various people types we all know?  In keeping with the biblical tradition of using animals to describe certain groups of depraved people like the infamous brood of vipers, what, for instance, could we call the corrupt politicians of our area?  How about a skulk of vermin!  What about the profane talking heads of modern media?  How about a pace of asses!  What about the lawless generational welfare types that are always rooting for more handouts?  How about a sounder of wild hogs?  You get the idea.  Have fun!  — The Missouri Rev                  

Christian Unity through Biblical Covenanting

Posted by Missouri Rev on Nov 1st, 2005

My fellow Christian agrarians and family in Christ (being truly one in the same), since it has been a week since I last posted, I thought I had better get with it. Blog duty can be quite demanding.

In addressing the biblical mechanism by which the Lord’s people come together to build Christian community and steward the land He so graciously gives us, I have written an article, Christian Unity Through Biblical Covenanting, which is based upon a sermon I preached this last Lord’s Day. Since it is far too big to post directly into my blog, you will need to go to the link below to it. It is in PDF format so you can read and/or print it.

Christian Unity Through Biblical Covenanting

If you do not have the software to open it, you can download it for free at this site: Adobe Reader Download: all versions

As always, I greatly desire your comments. —The Missouri Rev