Wednesday, December 07, 2005


Homesteading Influences

I grew up with the stories from my Grandma, my mothers mom, about her life on a real Tennessee homestead. Her family truly made their subsistence from the land in rural Red Boiling Springs, TN. Grandma Jessie lived in the horse and buggy days. She remembered seeing her first car and first airplane, etc. As a boy I would ask her what it was like seeing all these brand new technological advances and she considered them as being rather unimpressive. I imagine it just came along gradually enough as to not overwhelm them back then.

Grandma Jessie loved to talk about her childhood and I was fascinated by the way of life back in the early 1900's. She was born in 1910. Her dad was a big influence in her life as he was a devout bible believing Christian, however I don't think they went to church much, beings they lived a ways out in the country. I got the impression that Grandma's dad, Great Grandpa Thomas, was a little rough around the edges, but he must have had a strong faith because he most certainly passed that on to her. When he would tell her how to behave when she went out away from the farm he'd say, "Not because I'm telling you but, this is how the Lord say's you should be and do and act". His words of wisdom made a strong impression on her even into her old age.

Grandma Jessie grew up learning how to work the soil behind a horse drawn plow. As a teenager she used to help her dad in the fields. Even after she was married, moved away from the farm and had children of her own she was still in pretty good shape after those years of hard work. My mom's oldest brother used to invite his friends over and asked Grandma to show them her biceps as they where quite large back then. Mom said Grandma had biceps like a man, even though she was rather petite. Quite the novelty for the area kids I would say.

All of my Grand Parents had experience with raising their own food. Even the Zion relatives grew huge gardens and had livestock. I have in my possession copies of letters that my ancestors wrote to each other back in the 1800's. They were homesteaders and it is very interesting to read first hand what life was like in those days. Basically they grew and raised all of their own food and usually raised some sort of cash crop in which to sell so that they could buy certain supplies and equipment that they did not make or obtain themselves. Perhaps I will post some of those letters in the future.

As a boy I believed that Christian's would have to endure the Great Tribulation spoken of in the bible and that, that time was not very far off. This might sound strange but, instead of being fearful of coming hard times I was excited. It must have brought out the adventurer in me because I thought that it would be a great thrill to leave society, staying a step ahead of the Anti-Christ and his accursed "Mark of the Beast", fending for ourselves by living off the land in far off and out of the way places.

I grew up in the 60's and 70's and that time of profound change in America's ideology had a strong influence on the way I viewed things, I imagine. When I was in 3rd grade some of my relatives packed up and moved to Arkansas to start a communal living kind of thing where they all would live off the land. However, the area they chose to settle in didn't take kindly to those rebellious hippie type folks and the local authorities trumped up charges with which to run them off.

They lived in Arkansas for about 2, 1/2 years and during that time my cousins used to write me and tell me about all their adventures. I used to hang on every word. We even got to visit them once and they showed me all the wonders of life in the country. From that moment on I was hooked. I learned a lot about how to survive off the land just from hearing about their experiences.

When I was in about 4th grade I began forming my plan on how to move out into the country and live off the land. I was an avid comic book reader and I found in some of them that they had advertisements where if you sold seeds or Christmas cards, depending on the season, that you could earn points for prizes. There were hundreds of prizes including all kinds of camping equipment. This was my chance to obtain the gear I would need for surviving the coming tribulation.

My first stint as a salesman was of selling garden seeds. I went door to door to all my area relatives and if I remember right everyone bought from me. I was able to get several prizes with my points. Unfortunately my career as seed man was cut off in it's prime. Much to my parents embarrassment most of the seeds I sold where duds. But, I wasn't to give up just yet. There was still the Christmas cards I could peddle. So that following season I sold stacks of those. I must have sold a bunch because I got all kinds of valuable prizes. Altogether from selling the seeds and cards I got a sleeping bag, tent hunting knife, hatchet, bow and arrows, canteen and cooking utensils. I was set.

Looking back I realize that I must have been more cute than a salesman, not to mention all my victims were related to me, because Lord knows I've never been blessed with that kind of power of persuasion. Also, It would be safe to bet that my folks probably spent a bundle on my wares to boot.

I had many a grand adventure with all my new survival equipment. I mean, this stuff was the real deal. It was surprisingly high quality for some comic book program like that. For years I slept with the sleeping bag on my bed. I remember it well. It was green with a print of Mallard Ducks on the inside. The tent was a one man pup. One time my Dad slept out in the yard with me and his head had to stick out a little but, it was perfect for me. Friends and cousins used to camp out with me in it as well. I sharpened many a spear point with the hunting knife and I got pretty good at throwing my hatchet. It was quite a thrill to hear the thud as I sunk the blade of it into an old log. And that canteen quenched the thirst of many a soldier in our imaginary military maneuvers.

A couple years later a buddy of mine named Ernie found out in some magazine that there was free land to be had in Canada just like in the old days in America. You could get it by homesteading on it for a prescribed amount of years. So that was our plan. When we turned 18 we were heading to the great white north. In the mean time Ernie moved away and I started looking at land catalogs. There was one that listed rural properties from all over the United States. I used to pour over those pages just dreaming of the day when I'd finally have my own piece of the country.

Eventually, Ernie and I grew up. We were 18 and he came back to town for a visit. He said "So, do you still want to move to Canada?" By that time I had other interests, I was running around with friends and was pretty heavily into moto-cross racing. I looked at Ernie and said "Naw, guess not". For me, the dream was put on hold for the time being. Last I heard, Ernie was living in Florida. I haven't seen him in years, I wonder if he still remembers our dreams?

After growing up and starting my own family the dream was rekindled since my wife shared with me the same enthusiasm for living in the country. Since my childhood, my views have changed about the Tribulation. I now hold to the pre-trib rapture theory. My motives have changed about homesteading. I believe it is a more wholesome and biblical way of life. I see city living as more akin to life in Sodom and Gomorrah. But all in all I see life in the country as a far more desirable way to live. I believe that the bible has a lot to say about that, but I'll save that for future posts as well.

10 Comments:

Blogger Herrick Kimball said...

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Hi RL

You've got a great blog started here!

You and I share some past experiences. I also sold seeds and Christmas cards. But it sounds like you did a whole lot better at it than me.

And I also was influenced in my early thinking by rapture and tribulation theology. Now I'm not pre, mid, or post trib, which would all be lumped under the category of dispensational eschatology. I believe that is a theology of the end times that is not supported by scripture and leads to weak, short sighted, pessimistic, and retreatest Christianity. Now I'm inclined to believe about the end times what the christian church originally believed, what the pilgrims and puritans believed...something called postmillenialism. It has been a slow journey to this understanding because I grew up (and still attend) a Baptist church. But that's just me.....

In any event, I'm delighted to "meet" you through your new Blog and I look forward to hearing more of your homesteading life and thoughts

4:47 PM  
Blogger RL said...

Thanks Herrick.

I had to do a quick refresher course over the web on the different views in order to respond to your comment.

I always forget that there are studies that look at and compare all the different beliefs. I grew up with what you called a dipensational view, as you apparently did also. The majority of my studies on end times through out my life have been mainly within that view and of the differences within that frame work of idea’s. Really, the only things I have heard about concerning post-millennialism and also amillennialism have come from authors and lecturers coming from a pre-millennial point of view, where they argue that they are right and point out how the others are wrong. I guess you could call what they do dispensational apologetics. I suppose every side does the same thing.

Years ago I got rather disillusioned with it all when I heard two different prophecy speakers arguing over where they thought the anti-christ (they assume anti-christ will be a man) would come from. One thought that he would be a European and gave his biblical interpretations as to why he thought that and the other thought he would be a Jew and he too gave his biblical interpretations of why he thought what he thought. Both men seemed like rather intelligent fellows certainly more intelligent than me. So I thought, what is the point of splitting hairs like that? It seemed like a waste of breath and perfectly good intelligence. I mean, here were these smart guys making much ado about nothing. In the end I figured, it doesn’t really matter.

For a brief moment I suppose such hair splitting gave me some pangs of doubt. It made me wonder who the heck is right anyway. I mean not just those two intellectuals but, all of it. All the denominations and everything. It’s like trying to study the differences between free will and pre-destination. In one sense I have become somewhat pessimistic over the years looking at all the different beliefs within Christendom.

So now I have come to the point where I believe what I believe but, I’m not going to be too dogmatic about it because I could be wrong. There are a some things I would die for, like my belief in Christ that he died for my sins, but everything else I just take a wait and see kind of approach.

I do agree with what you said about the effects of dispensationalism. It does seem to have that effect alright. It’s a “after all were all going up in the rapture so why get involved” mentality. I don’t think that way, by the way.

Regardless of what theology any of us go by, there does seem to be this draw for a lot of folks back toward an agrarian lifestyle doesn’t there? I have my theories as to why this is and I suppose some of it has to do with my dispensational upbringing. But, you see a theme in the scriptures. It is one of the land playing a very vital role in the restored God centered civilization to come. I have been writing a piece for awhile now that I call Plowshares and Pruninghooks where I talk about a lot of those themes. I suppose most of those thoughts will eventually come out in this blog.

I think most of my idea’s are compatible with this agrarian group because I find myself saying amen to most of what I am reading from everyone. I am enjoying getting to know all these folks of like mind. It kind of feels like coming home.

Russ

9:55 PM  
Blogger Steve said...

"Regardless of what theology any of us go by, there does seem to be this draw for a lot of folks back toward an agrarian lifestyle doesn’t there?"

Indeed.

I am Catholic. Catholics don't generally get involved in the end-times debate. We tend to consider our death the "end-time", whether it comes at the end of the world, at old age, or a heart attack at 35. Our Lord told us to "watch" and be ready. In a different but similar sense I think our Lord is telling us now to be ready; to read the signs of the times. Even from a worldly perspective it seems pretty obvious, if one is willing to see, that the current economic system cannot sustain itself. It's not a matter of ‘if’, but ‘when’, IMO. But it does seem obvious that the Holy Spirit is inspiring many to live the simple, self sustaining life, and to be as much removed of the system as possible. My thought is that when society crumbles, it may very well be that those who are most prepared to pass through the distress will be in the unique position to rebuild society. Perhaps that’s a rather radical view, but I don’t think that it’s all that far off from the truth.

We Catholics also don’t subscribe to the retreatist mentality. Another thing that I’ve noticed of late is that there seems to be a calling for men of God to be involved in society, in order to transform the existing social institutions for the kingdom of Christ. I have noticed several groups of Christian men forming around the country dedicated to this purpose.

Perhaps I’m just a wing-nut. But maybe our Lord is gathering together His remnant? I’ll have to wait and see.

8:24 AM  
Blogger JFC said...

Greetings from The Aspiring Agrarian. And since the discussion seems to have turned to eschatology, I will put in my two cents worth.

I spent a lot of years as an amillenialist. During the history of the church, I think it can be fairly characterized that, far and away, the dominant position has been amillenialism of one stripe or another. I think this would fairly characterize the Roman Catholic position (though, of course, there are exceptions clear back to the early church fathers). It is certainly true of Protestants.

However, there are two sorts of amillenialism. One (most associated with the name now) tends to believe that good and evil will continue side by side with neither gaining ascendancy during the course of history.
In the last 9 years or so, however, I have become convinced of the second type of amillenialism -- optimistic amillenialism, generally called postmillenialism -- which holds that the scripture teaches that the Kingdom of God will grow on earth by the power of God's Spirit -- before Christ returns. (NOTE: Do not confuse this biblical view with the early-20th century liberal view of the same name which believed human goodness and ingenuity would bring in the kingdom of God.) In this understanding, most of the prophecy about apostasy and tribulation was directed to the first century disciples who saw the utter destruction of Jerusalem, and faced persecution by Rome. Since that time the church has grown enormously (120 at Pentecost, nearly 2 billion now -- acknowledging of course that there are false brothers included in any count). While our nation is in a downhill spiral at this point in time, nevertheless, the general movement of the Kingdom of God is still upward.

The dispensational view is less than 200 years old, and became the predominant Evangelical / Fundamentalist view in America through "prophecy conferences" in the late 1800's, and by being adopted in the Scofield Bible in the early 1900's. Dispensationist thought has driven the retreat of Protestants from spheres of cultural influence in the USA. We have wasted the "capital" accumulated over centuries from the early Americans (Pilgrims, Puritans) who were invariably post-millenialists. In the late 1970's this retreat began to reverse, but there are enough inconsistencies between dispensationalism and advance that there is little fruit from the substantial "public-policy" efforts of dispensational leaders. (As one of them once said, "Why polish brass on a sinking ship?")

Theologically positioned between dispensationalism and amillenialism is (non-dispensational) premillenialism, which (unlike dispensationalism) has a venerable history in the church (though, I don't believe, matching the predominance of the various amillenial understandings).

The relationship between non-retreatist and agrarian and post-millenial is:

Post-millenialists believe that God is building his kingdom, and that it will grow and succeed. They believe they are a part of this, so they are not retreating, but rather advancing. However, they do not see advance as gaining control of ungodly institutions, but rather as being faithful in what God has put before them, and it seems that a major part of what God has set before his people to do is best accomplished in a broadly agrarian society. So as God's people are faithful in their lives, God uses that to advance his Kingdom, despite the fact that most of what they do is not on the cutting edge of pagan society.

Welcome to the blog world. And may God use this interaction of brothers and sisters to sharpen each other, and conform each of us more to his image.

JFC

1:39 PM  
Blogger Herrick Kimball said...

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That's a good explanation jfc. Thanks.

4:58 PM  
Blogger Steve said...

JFC, thanks. I have not deeply delved into the realm of eschatology, but what I understand does seem to coincide with your eloquent post - with one or two caveats.

First, it seems to me that a post millenialist understanding of a first century fulfillment does not necessarily rule out subsequent fulfillments. In other words, while the Jews' rejection of Christ and the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD was a real event and fulfillment of revelation, it was also a type for any future nation that willfully rejects Christ.

Also, I disagree that we do not see advance as gaining control of institutions. Lest we forget, many, if not most of these institutions were founded by Christendom. All of western culture, i.e. universities (arts, politics, science, etc.), hospitals, the press, social institutions, and more, were originated and maintained by the works of Christian charity. It has only been in recent centuries, through our negligence and complacency, that the enemy has infiltrated and conquered these institutions and has successfully promoted an anti-Christ culture of death through them. We are experiencing the resulting chaos. Yes, it does seem that a truly Christian culture *must* be largely based on agrarian principles. But if we are ever to once again participate in a truly Christian culture, we must prepare ourselves, and our children, to lead in *every* facet of society – and we must take these institutions back.

My 3 cents.

God Bless.

7:32 AM  
Blogger JFC said...

Steve,

I concur.

Any specific prophecy that is fulfilled is likely to be repeated, in a sense, because God generally deals in an analagous way with all circumstances that merited the original warnings and/or prophecies. We may quibble about terms (you: it was also a type for any future nation, I might say: it was also an example to any future nation), but certainly God continues to come in judgement on individuals, institutions, and nations that reject Messiah.

And I certainly agree that, in time, we also redeem institutions by taking them or returning them to godly control. I just note that this will generally happen AFTER we have been faithful outside of the powerful institutions that exist, and when God responds to that faithfulness by giving the institution into our hands, often by the present powers recognizing the superior basis which the godly foundation brings. (Much like Joseph was given power in Egypt, and Daniel in Babylon, after faithfulness.) To those who would mock the idea that Christians would ever be given the reigns to any powerful institution now run by secular pagans, I simply note that the heart of the king is in the hands of the Lord.

So yes, I would agree that we hold very much in common in these understandings.

1:23 PM  
Blogger Walter Jeffries said...

Great story - Keep on writing!

-Walter
SugarMtnFarm
in Vermont

9:21 PM  
Blogger RL said...

I’ve been down with the flu for the past few days and just now got a chance to check on things. Thanks for all the great comments Herrick, Steve, jfc. And hello Walter, nice pencil drawing.

Herrick, regarding your last comment on the other post. I hope you didn’t think I was insinuating that you were being dogmatic. I was just talking about myself. I see all true believers, regardless of religious affiliation, as being of the same spiritual family. We are all branches of the same tree with Christ as the life giving sap. I really enjoy your style of writing. I feel that I know you from reading your Whizbang Chicken Plucker book. Anybody who plucks chickens by hand would do well to buy that book from Herrick. For that matter buy two and give one away as a gift. Oh, and thanks for helping me to better define what agrarianism is. I think I have a better idea of it now. I just wasn’t sure about it before, it sounded like something I agreed with but, needed to learn more about it.

Steve, what you said about death being the “end-time” is something that is in the back of my mind most of the time. I am constantly aware of my own mortality. Even though I have the belief that the “rapture” could happen any time, it would seem that death is more imminent. I try to live like everyday could be my last. I don’t always succeed at that but, it is what I aim for. Like making a priority to hug my wife and kids and spending time with friends and family or going the extra mile with someone. Nice to meet you and thanks for your “3 Cents”. :)

jfc, thanks for your “two cents” worth, I need all the help I can get. I am at awe over your knowledge on this subject. Very informative, I’ll be copying this to a separate folder for future reference.

To all, Like I said at the top I’ve had the flu the past few days,. The worst I’ve had in a long, long time and when I got back to this blog, I about fell over with all this response. I’m like, “Oh my gosh people are actually reading this stuff”. I felt my face flush. I wonder if any of you felt that way when you first started. I’m actually a quiet person and usually rather reserved. I figured it would take months to get this kind of feedback. Thanks all for the kind comments and warm welcome. Russ

1:05 AM  
Blogger JM said...

Russ,

I'm late in getting in my comment, but, a hearty WELCOME to you. I like what I see so far, thanks for coming in.
JM

1:13 AM  

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