My title is not a reference to bovine droppings, but fill-in-the-blank Bible Study workbooks!
My wife made it a goal to teach our daughters the Word during this shut-down. A noble and worthy goal. Several of her friends wanted to study the same materials together, and they picked a series by Beth Moore.
Though I bristle at her women-o-centric presentation, I love Beth Moore and am glad that she’s out there. She clearly loves the Bible, the Christ of the Bible, and wants to help women know Him. Maybe I’m a rebel, but I just cringe at fill-in-the-blank anything!
That said, I’m doing her Bible study, but taking the rabbit trails I need to in order to reach revelation. Maybe I have a slow brain, and I need to look at a questions from multiple angles before I have an opinion? Her readings are centered on Genesis 1:26-2:17 and Genesis 3:1-9 and ask the questions: “Where are you?” and “Where is G-d?”
My process of reading scripture, if I have one, is to invite the Holy Spirit to help me learn what He wants today, and read until something “pops”. That’s it. My internal questions most days sound more like, “Hey Dad, what are You up to today? Can I come along?”
So, back on track, the first thing that bounced in this reading was Genesis 2:5.
“Now no shrub had yet appeared on the earth and no plant had yet sprung up, for the LORD God had not sent rain on the earth and there was no one to work the ground,” *
What did this say to me? That we, humans, planted everything on the face of the earth. I had never noticed that we were made to be planters, horticulturalists, or farmers before today. (Sort of an irony that our Maker and our faith is so scorned on Earth Day when He put us here to make things grow, isn’t it?)
So I kept reading dutifully, blah, blah, blah, the whole text through 3:9. Nothing. Crickets. Then I re-read Genesis 2:16-17 and got bounced again on the noggin by the Counselor.
“And the LORD God commanded him, “You may eat freely from every tree of the garden, but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil; for in the day that you eat of it, you will surely die.” **
Two more coins dropped, and two questions popped into my mind; “What does the Lord mean by “eat freely”? and “What’s so bad about knowledge of good and evil?”
Pondering the first question, I am led to believe that the Master loves sharing! He wants us to explore; climb every mountain and ford every stream. He generously gave us a universe filled with the answer “Yes!”
Yet, within His universe of freedoms there we find one “no”; “you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil; for in the day that you eat of it, you will surely die.” It seems completely illogical at first glance that learning about good and bad, this and that, lightness and darkness could be, (gulp) deadly?
But thankfully, today G-d took me down a different rabbit trail to contemplate the sin before the “original sin”. What was it about Satan’s thinking and heart that ejected him, such a beautiful and awe-inspiring creature, from the presence of the Eternal One forever? What is another word that encapsulates and crystalizes “knowledge of good and the knowledge of evil”? Surely, the King of the Universe does not withhold or resent our learning, contemplation, and exploration of everything, so what is it?
Let’s focus on what He said, rather than on the Serpent’s hissing? ”
“for when you eat of it you will surely die.” Genesis 2:17b
G-d is the great “I Am”. He is the Only One Eternally Present. Therefore, He is the Only One worthy of the name Elohei Mishpat; G-d of Justice! He told us plainly, “You can’t eat this food of judgment or you will die.”
Not to be vain, but for the sake of argument, let’s cross check G-d, ok? Satan begins the cycle of sin in Isaiah 14:14 with a heart of judgment.
“I will ascend above the tops of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High.” BSB ***
Look again, friends and what do you see; “I will” and “I will”! Satan’s original original sin is judging: a. That he is capable of knowing good and evil. b. That his assessment’s are more just than G-d.
But he is just the author of the cycle of judgment and counter-judgment. His ejection was the belief that he could rightly divide good and evil APART from the Omniscient One. His logical theorems, postulates, and arguments always fail. Forgive my wordiness, but indulge me an example or two?
- To perfectly assess and judge good and evil, one must have perfect and total knowledge.
- To have perfect and total knowledge, one must be eternal.
- To be eternal, one must not be a creature or creation.
- Therefore, a creature or creation is not eternal, and by definition cannot possess perfect and total knowledge.
- Satan falsely judged Elohei Mishpat based on creaturely, incomplete knowledge of good and evil.
- Satan’s judgement of G-d based on creaturely, incomplete knowledge of good and evil broke relationship with G-d. (This is important. G-d did not leave him. He left the Presence of G-d.)
- Satan’s exit of the Presence of G-d began his practice of the cycle of judgment based on creaturely, incomplete knowledge of good and evil.
- Satan’s practice of the cycle of judgment based on creaturely, incomplete knowledge of good and evil entered the human race through Adam and Eve’s abandonment of Justice.
- Therefore, the practice of the cycle of judgment based on creaturely, incomplete knowledge of good and evil is Satanic, and excludes us from the Presence of G-d.
- Exclusion from the Presence of G-d is willfully practicing the cycle of Death through judgment and counter-judgment based on creaturely, incomplete knowledge of good and evil.
All this long-windedness to say that all forms of human separation started with a rejection of our Kind Judge. In turn, we have accepted the mores of the Enemy, a cruel judge whose false assessments are also based on false information. He is truly the Author of Prejudice! He pre-judged G-d and abandoned the Truth. He strives to teach humanity pre-judgement and the abandonment that any truth exists.
Insofar as we believe the Author of Prejudice and the Abandoner of G-d, we enter into his dominion of eternal co-dependency. We must kill and covet. We must reject love to protect ego. We must constantly remain in “fight or flight” mode because “our will must be done”! Our value is up for grabs because it is not rooted in Elohei Mishpat. We have self-rejected staying in the present through the grace and truth of I Am, and walk backwards over the cliffs of injustice. And that, dear friends, is the B as in B, S as in S of the Enemy of All Humanity!
We heal history because our Messiah believes in doing so!
We overlook and overcome lies and temptations to enact our “street justice” on our enemies.
We practice the Presence of G-d by remaining present to our lives through forgiveness and an acceptance of being a chosen and dearly-loved member of His family.
We remember, record, and bring our offense to the Only One who can take it.
We release the prisoners of the Enemy because we, too, know the horrors of “my will be done”!
We correctly accept that Justice is His, and He will fairly judge all when the game is over because He is the Christ of Post-justice not Prejudice!
Shirtless flying ace Pappy Boyington greets Capt. Horold Stassen.
Apr 26, 1943
Edward J. Thye takes office as the state’s 26th governor when Governor Harold E. Stassen resigns to enlist in the Navy four months into his third term.*
To better asses the relevance of this event, let’s learn some background information on each of these men starting with the regional success story of Edward Thye.
“Edward J. Thye, the twenty-sixth governor of Minnesota, was born near Frederick, South Dakota on April 26, 1896. His education was attained at the Tractor and Internal Combustion School in Minneapolis, at the American Business College, and at the University of Minnesota, where he graduated in 1918. During World War I, he served in the U.S. Army Air Corps as a private, and later rose to the rank of second lieutenant. After his military service, he worked at the Deere and Weber Company for two years, and then went into the dairy business. Thye entered politics in 1938, serving as the Minnesota deputy commissioner of agriculture, a position he held three years. He also served as the lieutenant governor of Minnesota from 1942 to 1943. On April 27, 1943, Governor Harold Stassen resigned from office, and Thye, who was the lieutenant governor at the time, assumed the duties of the governorship. He was elected to a term of his own on November 7, 1944. During his tenure, a human rights commission was created; highway construction was advanced; a department of aeronautics was initiated; and an iron range rehabilitation commission was formed, as well as a postwar planning commission. In 1946, Thye won election to the U.S. Senate, but remained in the governor’s office until January 8, 1947. He then took his seat in the U.S. Senate, a position he held until 1959. Governor Edward J. Thye passed away on August 28, 1969, and was buried in the Oaklawn Cemetery in Northfield, Minnesota.”**
Using the same highly accurate source, we’ll look into the backstory of Governor Stassen from the vantage point of the governors association.
“During his tenure, the state’s highway system was advanced; a civil service law was sanctioned; tourist business with the state was promoted; and an anti-loan shark and labor bill was authorized. Governor Stassen resigned from the governorship on April 27, 1943, to enter service in World War II. He served as a captain in the U.S. Navy and was awarded numerous decorations for his heroic service. He also served on Admiral William F. Halsey’s staff as an aide and flag secretary. After his military service, he returned to his political career.” ***
This author was also pleased to find the information below written and researched by his great nephew
“With the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941 by the Japanese brought more change to Harold’s career. When he ran for reelection as governor in 1942, he announced in a radio broadcast from the Governor’s Office on March 27, “The offensive drive for victory against the totalitarian forces that threaten the future of free men will be conducted in the main by the young men of my generation. I want to be with them.” He won reelection.” ****
Using these small kernels of information, will You guide this prayer Holy Spirit?
Will You show us root truths or misbeliefs that you may wish to address? Will You bring acknowledgement of wrongs, separations, and sins that unlock us from continuing down a rocky path?
Right away, the prompt to read the “Love Chapter” a.k.a. 1 Corinthians 13:1-13 comes to mind. Why? Who gives away their authority and power except a human being that believes in love, and an overarching authority greater than his or her own?
“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking…” NIV 1 Corinthians 13:4-5a
These Governors were not self-seeking, but ones who understood that the strength of their authority comes from being servants of their fellow citizens…even to the point of death. They led by example, and not from behind. Father, remember this happy day in our State when the people could clearly see that Stassen and Thye would do their duty!
Please encourage or exhort, build confidence or condemnation of our present leadership as needed so that we can continue a trust relationship with them! Will You raise more leaders in the North Star state who invite Your authority, and have humble hearts to lay down their domains of power at the proper time and season?
We also see their recognition of evils in their times. We take note with You today that they could see through the pleasant disguises of Stalinism, shintoism and the Showa Period of Japan, the fascism of Italy, and the Nationalsozialismus Party of Germany. Before the war began, westerners of many stripes saw and reported the positive, humanistic potential of these worldviews. Father, You know the names, but allow me to list a few who were charmed by these regimes: industry giant Henry Ford was awed at the efficiency of the German state factories, Neville Chamberlain perhaps sought peace, but placated warriors, and US President F.D.Roosevelt publicly stated, “Some of my best friends are communists.”
So we see a bitter root of envy within the goodness of our leaders; sometimes they are duped by evil. To expand, sometimes they may admire or even covet the drive to power of dictators, and secretly want to never be questioned in their goals or hampered by the restraints of law. Yet, within all leadership is a human being that is often no better or worse than the rest of us.
Lord, we confess our covetousness of the power of our neighbor(s). We confess that can become imbalanced when we love control more than contentment. We acknowledge that we often fold in the face of depravity, corruption, and vice rather than stand boldly against them. Will You remove this offense against You from our record?
Lord, we give honor to Governor Stassen and to Governor Thye. Will You remember their commitment to stand against the evils of the collectivism that called itself good in their age? Will You cause us to stand against the evils of our present era in the same way? Give us pause to consider; are we ready to die to our life’s ambitions to obey You, love Virtue, and love the Truth? Will we put aside our livelihoods for the sake of future generations of Minnesotans? Will we let our neighbor fight our battles, or will we (like Your example through Harold Stassen) lay down our lives for our friends? Have mercy on us, dear Father! Will You help us choose wisdom?
* P.T.H. cites timeline formerly at this URL: mnhs.org/about/dipity_timeline.htm
The Minnesota Historical Society Web site, http://www.mnhs.org, is fantastic! Check it out! Images are from https://images.google.com/?gws_rd=ssl; again, an amazing resource!
** https://www.nga.org/governor/edward-john-thye/ Sobel, Robert, and John Raimo, eds. Biographical Directory of the Governors of the United States, 1789-1978, Vol. 2, Westport, Conn.; Meckler Books, 1978. 4 vols.
Sobel, Robert, and John Raimo, eds. Biographical Directory of the Governors of the United States, 1789-1978, Vol. 2, Westport, Conn.; Meckler Books, 1978. 4 vols.
Elizabeth Kenny, the daughter of Michael and Mary Kenny, was born September 20, 1886 in New South Wales, Australia. She received her nursing training at a private hospital and served as a nurse in the Australian bush country from 1911 to 1914. It was during this period that she encountered her first case of infantile paralysis (1909) and developed her treatment for the disease. During World War I Kenny served as an Australian Army nurse and was promoted to the rank of “sister,” the Nurse Corps equivalent to a first lieutenant.*
After the war Kenny returned to civilian nursing. Her treatment and concept of infantile paralysis gained the recognition of the medical profession and the support of the Australian government. Her clinic at Townsville was given government status and Kenny clinics were established throughout Australia.**
In 1911, when she encountered her first case of polio, Sister Kenny was unaware of conventional polio treatment — immobilizing the affected muscles with splints. Instead, she used common sense and her understanding of anatomy to treat the symptoms of the disease. Sister Kenny applied moist hotpacks to help loosen muscles, relieve pain, and enable limbs to be moved, stretched, and strengthened. The theory of her treatment was muscle “re-education” — the retraining of muscles so that they could function again. The medical profession widely opposed her unorthodox methods and brought about a Royal Commission to stop her practicing.***
Kenny came to the U.S. in the spring of 1940 but was disappointed by the cool reception her treatment technique received on the West and East coasts. In June 1940 she demonstrated her treatment at the University of Minnesota Medical School and Minneapolis General Hospital. The medical personnel at these institutions accepted Kenny’s treatment method as an entirely new concept of infantile paralysis and the first American treatment center was opened at Minneapolis General Hospital.
In December 1942, the City of Minneapolis established the Elizabeth Kenny Institute and the following year the Sister Elizabeth Kenny Foundation was formed to financially support the Institute’s work and to forward the teaching of the Kenny method throughout the U.S. and abroad. Sister Kenny’s pioneering principles of muscle rehabilitation became the foundation of physical therapy. Today, Sister Kenny Rehabilitation Services is one of the premier rehabilitation centers in the country, known for its progressive and innovative vision. Elizabeth Kenny died November 30, 1952 at her home in Toowoomba, Australia. **,***
The story of a visionary being misunderstood and opposed by those who should be allied is, unfortunately, not news in human history. My heart sinks as I read about this woman who used up her life in service to those who had lost use of limbs due to polio or other causes. Why are those who serve so often viewed as the enemy by their authorities instead of allies or innovators? Granted, they are responsible for life and death decisions, and this is surely a heavy weight to bear. Lord, will You forgive the judgments of the Royal Commission against Sister Kenny, and give them wisdom in their regulatory decisions?
Will You release her, and all physical therapists’ who followed in her footsteps from this kind of opposition? Will You bless Sister Kenny’s memory in St. Paul and Toowooba? Will You favor her generations, and all professionals who continue to advance the work she started? Will You grant them new ideas and insights to the restoration of the human body?
Lord, to generalize, perhaps the creative forces of medicine are greatly hampered from healing through fear-based laws, and the seeking of permission to heal. What do You say about this in Scripture?
“For no matter how many promises G-d has made, they are “Yes” in Christ. And so through him the “Amen” is spoken by us to the glory of G-d.” 2 Corinthians 1:20 ****
Contextually to the readers of these verses the meaning would be more like “altogether true and entirely free of ambiguity. Will You bless such boards and authorities with insight and revelation to release healing into the world that is “altogether true and entirely free of ambiguity”? Will You shield them from tyranny of the state or the business cycle?
Will You release the medical authorities of her home nation for the initial rejection of her ideas? Will You forgive her any counter-judgments made in the midst of this rejection pain? Will You bless the nation of Australia because of her, and continue her legacy there? Give us many more in Minnesota, Lord, who heal in spite of political or legal disfavor, but heal because they follow the Author of Healing! Amen.
* P.T.H. cites timeline formerly at this URL: mnhs.org/about/dipity_timeline.htm
The Minnesota Historical Society Web site, http://www.mnhs.org, is fantastic! Check it out! Images are from https://images.google.com/?gws_rd=ssl; again, an amazing resource!
January 2, 1939
“Harold E. Stassen takes office as the state’s 25th governor. At the age of 31, Stassen was the youngest governor in the state’s history. He goes on to be re-elected governor in 1940 and again in 1942. Four months into his third term Stassen resigns and enlists in the Navy (April 27, 1943).” *
Governor Stassen was raised as a Republican in Saint Paul, Minnesota in the early 20th century. This city had a bifurcated population of laborers from predominantly Catholic regions of Europe, and business owners often with a Protestant work ethic. Perhaps this dichotomy helps explain why he had empathy for laborers, and had awareness of crime and civic corruption? He gained his law degree at the University of Minnesota graduating in 1929, and was ready to battle injustice. **
Soon thereafter, he found a home in the Progressive political platform of Theodore Roosevelt founded ca. 1912. For clarity’s sake, the Progressive Party was founded:
“To destroy this invisible Government, to dissolve the unholy alliance between corrupt business and corrupt politics is the first task of the statesmanship of the day.” ***
To that end, the platform called for:
Strict limits and disclosure requirements on political campaign contributions
Registration of lobbyists
Recording and publication of Congressional committee proceedings
In the social sphere, the platform called for:
A national health service to include all existing government medical agencies.
Social insurance, to provide for the elderly, the unemployed, and the disabled
Limited the ability of judges to order injunctions to limit labor strikes.
A minimum wage law for women
An eight-hour workday
A federal securities commission
Workers’ compensation for work-related injuries
An inheritance tax
The political reforms proposed included:
Direct election of Senators
Primary elections for state and federal nominations
Easier amending of the United States Constitution
The platform also urged states to adopt measures for “direct democracy”, including:
The recall election (citizens may remove an elected official before the end of his term)
The referendum (citizens may decide on a law by popular vote)
The initiative (citizens may propose a law by petition and enact it by popular vote)
Judicial recall (when a court declares a law unconstitutional, the citizens may override that ruling by popular vote)’**** Ibid.
Stassen adapted and simplified this platform to suit the specific needs of Minnesota. Again, his overarching goal was to rid the Minnesota’s government of corruption and cronyism. His secondary goals were to: reform all positions of civil service, create better relationships with labor, provide for the public’s welfare, and restructure the government to make it work more efficiently.
Shall we pray? G-d of All Justice, we remember gratefully that You are perfect in authority, unchangeable, and incorruptible! What comfort to know that You offer wisdom and discernment so freely to those who humbly bow and ask! We remember today that our Messiah laid down his life, spilling His blood to fulfill the Abrahamic Covenant, and rising again to conclusively prove that He is “King of Kings, and Lord of Lords”!
We recognize, along with Governor Stassen, that we have broken faith with You in the acceptance of corruption and cronyism of his era. We have bent the laws of Minnesota for our gain, and have inwardly failed to love You or Your Laws. Will You forgive us our enticement to bow to the idols of nepotism, parti pris, and partisanship? We have seen evils, and have agreed with our enemy to “look the other way” and “just play ball”! Have mercy.
Will You bless and keep the heritage of Harold Stassen? Will You give us civic leaders who are immune to the diseases of lobbyists? Will You give us lobbyists who love Your laws? Will You give grace to our leaders of government, finance, business, and industries? Though they have the power to force the changes of laws they desire, may they foster changes in law within the framework of persuasive wisdom and humility. May we progress towards chesed!
*** Patricia OToole (June 25, 2006). “”The War of 1912,” Time in partnership with CNN, Jun. 25, 2006″. Time.com. Retrieved January 6, 2012.
“Gordon Parks had moved to St. Paul as a teenager and struggled through the depression working at odd jobs. One day he buys a camera in a pawn shop and in a matter of weeks has his first show at Eastman Kodak in Minneapolis. Thus begins a long, distinguished career as a photographer, composer, novelist, and filmmaker.” *
Ears that hear and eyes that see-the Lord has made them both. Proverbs 20:12
Gordon was born dead, or so the doctor thought, on November 30,1912 wrapped in a cloth and set aside. An observer had an idea to put the child in a tub of ice water, and gently rub ice over his body. Surprisingly, this homespun method worked, and he was revived! **
Parks was born the last child of fifteen to Andrew Jackson Parks and Sarah Ross. He worked on the family farm in Fort Scott, Kansas, and held a lifetime attachment to the land. Thought his youth, he wrestled with the dichotomy of a place that was legally free, yet socially informed by the south. He went to a segregated school, and was discouraged from applying to college by his high school advisor because blacks “were not college material.” ** Sadly, Parks did not finish high school, but it didn’t stop his momentum.
About 1927, his mother died, and he was sent to live with his older sister in Saint Paul, Minnesota. Though she cared for him, her husband was in constant conflict with him, and eventually he was turned out of their home at age fifteen. He struggled with homelessness and poverty in the frigid winters, but survived by doing odd jobs working as a: porter, snow shoveler, busboy, semi-pro basketball player, and piano player for a brothel.**
Eventually, his life stabilized by getting steady work as a server on a train. This job had the fringe benefit of exposing him to different people, cultures, and opportunities. Inspired by the art exhibits of Chicago, he bought his first camera, a Voightlander Brilliant, from a pawn shop and began taking pictures.
Mr. Parks recounted that day saying: “Eastman Kodak developed the first roll of film…. and when I went for the prints, one of the clerks complimented me on my first efforts. ‘Keep it up and we’ll give you a show.’ I didn’t take him seriously and he realized it. ‘I mean it,’ he said. ‘You’ve got a good eye.’” ** He continued shooting, and they did give him the show as promised.
Spurred on by this success, Gordon went to the finest women’s clothing store in Saint Paul, Frank Murphy Fashions, and sought to demonstrate his skills in fashion photography. Though he double-exposed his first roll of film, the one photo that turned out was so elegant that they were willing to repeat the process.*** This began his acceptance in the world of fashion photography.
The success of his Murphy fashion shoots caught the eye of Marva Louis, the bride of the famed boxer Joe Louis. She inspired the Parks’ to consider moving to Chicago as there would be more fashion work for Gordon there. He ended up taking portraits of society women, but it opened the next door for them to move to Washington D.C.**ibid
In a strange turn of events, he was hired by the Farm Security Administration on the weight of an exhibition of his pictures of life on the life of city folks from Chicago’s South Side. Under the tutelage of Roy Stryker, he learned to tell stories in pictures that words could not convey. It was in this era that his most famous photo was born.**ibid
His first assignment given by Stryker was to buy and overcoat, get something to eat, and to catch a matinee. Thinking he had won the lottery, he went shopping, but the staff wouldn’t fit a black man. Next, he went to grab some lunch, but the diner refused to serve him unless he came to the back alley. He was shooed away from the theatre.
The coin dropped for him; I can show the public what citizenship feels like as minority in the America of the 1940’s. He later struck up a conversation with Eva Watson, an African-American janitor in his building the same day. She was willing to have her picture taken by Parks in the lobby of the FSA building, and “American Gothic, Washington, D.C.” was born.**ibid
So here I am today, Lord, to watch and pray with You about Gordon Parks and his accomplishments in the arts. Let me reflect on how You are El Roi; the Strong One who Sees. You observe the events of time concurrently; past, present, and future. You see our externals, and our innermost thoughts and motivations.
I recall the promptings of the apostle Paul to the early church in Ephesus to use their hearts in “seeing”. “I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people…” Ephesians 1:18 NIV**** I don’t know much about the spiritual life of Mr. Parks, but it is clear that You have downloaded this gift into him.
We give You thanks for this dualistic vision of Gordon Parks; to see people, places, and things in the light of eternity. We thank You that he instinctively saw value and meaning and dignity in the lives of those to whom society was blind. In his own way, he saw through the eyes of Christ.
Will You bless the inheritance given to Minnesota and the United States through the camera lens of Gordon Parks? Will You bless his figurative and literal children to see with the eyes of their hearts? Will You make us soft and receptive to these images of pain, beauty, unrest, and exaltation?
Forgive us, sweet Holy Spirit, we are flooded with images each day through our vices and devices, but we are still thirsty for one glance that inspires. Our conscience has cataracts and we don’t acknowledge the pure, the real, the noble, or Your pure light beaming into our eyes radiating from the faces of our neighbor. Help us, like Mr. Parks, to see because we have truly listened to the human actors in the drama of each day!
Come and heal our blindness! Come and let us hear! Open the eyes of our hearts in Minnesota so we can perceive the messages You are constantly sending to us through others. Open the apertures of our consciences so that we can also see inwardly. Add to our personal and cultural memory; click the shutter so we remember the moments when catch a glimpse of the Immortal and Invisible!
** You Tube. “Half Past Autumn; The Life and Works of Gordon Parks”. Published by On the Road. February 8, 2017. Producer Craig Rice. Writer Lou Rother. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LzeuL0d5Z_s
*** This photo can be viewed at the current website of Frank Murphy Fashions. http://www.frankmurphyfashions.com/about/history/
“Pipestone Quarry on the Coteau des Prairies” George Catlin Oil on canvas. Smithsonian American Art Museum. 1985.66.337
August 25, 1937
“Congress establishes the state’s first national monument–Pipestone National Monument–in southwestern Minnesota.” *
Monuments typically are structures or markers that are placed to guide society to remember that something of significance. In this case, the item of importance is literally a type of stone specimens of a quality rarely found in elsewhere. Below is a brief excerpt, that gives us a little scientific footing to understand it.
“The Early Proterozoic Sioux Quartzite of southwestern Minnesota accumulated as sedimentary sand layers deposited by streams that flowed across an erosional surface developed on older Archean rocks. These deposits were metamorphosed by heat and pressure to produce the metamorphic layers of quartzite seen today. The thin 2 to 6 inch layers of reddish-brown catlinite – a metamorphic claystone argillite – is normally found sandwiched between layers of quartzite which is often found under an overburden of 10-15 feet. The catlinite deposits of southwestern Minnesota are estimated to be between 1.6 billion and 1.8 billion years old.” **
Most of the western world found out about Pipestone through snippets in the journals and writings of explorers like Lewis and Clark ca. 1814, or Philander Prescott ca. 1832.*** In 1836, American artist George Catlin – after whom Catlinite is named – recorded the Sioux legend of the origin of the pipestone as follows:
“At an ancient time the Great Spirit, in the form of a large bird, stood upon the wall of rock and called all the tribes around him. Taking out a piece of the red stone, he formed it into a pipe and smoked it, the smoke rolling over the whole multitude. He then told his red children that this red stone was their flesh, that they were made from it, that they must all smoke to him through it, that they must use it for nothing but pipes: and as it belonged alike to all the tribes, the ground was sacred, and no weapons must be used or brought upon it.”****
The mystery of this place was also recorded in the imagery of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s poetry; “On the mountains of the Prairie, On the great Red Pipe-stone Quarry…”.*****
However, those with the most memory of the place are those to whom it is most sacred; the Ihanktonwan Nation. This group of Sioux, a.k.a. the Council of the Seven Fires, are the sworn protectors of this holy ground, and the ritual pipes made from these stones.For what reason is pipe-smoking considered sacred and necessary for most tribal and family meetings, or at times of decision?******
The pipe ceremony is a sacred ritual for connecting physical and spiritual worlds. “The pipe is a link between the earth and the sky,” explains White Deer of Autumn. “Nothing is more sacred. The pipe is our prayers in physical form. Smoke becomes our words; it goes out, touches everything, and becomes a part of all there is. The fire in the pipe is the same fire in the sun, which is the source of life.” The reason why tobacco is used to connect the worlds is that the plant’s roots go deep into the earth, and its smoke rises high into the heavens.*******
So we turn to You in prayer, dear Father! We give You thanks for creating connections between the physical and spiritual worlds through the life, death, and resurrection of Christ! We thank You that the natural and supernatural is flawlessly joined in Your practical teachings and in the most sacred rituals proscribed in Your Word! You did not create and then negate; Your Spirit is with us, and guides our prayers and actions beyond the limitations of the present tense! You allow us to experience and connect with the great “I AM”!
We give You thanks for the creation of the Pipestone National Monument, and for its’ keepers; the Ihanktonwan Nation! We thank You for the protections offered by the states of Minnesota and South Dakota, indirectly, to the prayers of the Sioux Nations! We know that You remember the smoke of the Ochethi Sakowin, the Dakota, and the Lakota peoples through time.
We ask that You forgive the separations of these people groups, and the latter residents of Minnesota and South Dakota. Where we sinned against You in this place, will You forgive us? Where we have failed to recognize You, will You open our eyes and our hearts? Where we have cursed the grounds in war, or broken relationships, will You lift the curse?
Sweet Holy Spirit, will You blow Your smoke over Pipestone, and connect us with our Messiah? Spread Your fragrance through us Jesus! You have carved Your Image into our lives, may we pass that image on!
Want more? Please read a primary source letter by Catlin regarding Pipestone. Catlin, George. “Letters and Notes on the Manners, Customs, and Conditions of North American Indians”. Published London.1844. http://www.rocksandminerals.com/specimens/pipestonevisit.htm
January 4, 1937
“Elmer A. Benson takes office as the state’s 24th governor.” *
“He was elected in 1936 as Minnesota’s second Farmer-Labor Party governor with over 58 percent of the vote. He was defeated only two years later by an even larger margin. An outspoken champion of Minnesota’s workers and family farmers, Benson lacked the political gifts of his charismatic predecessor, Floyd B. Olson. However, many of his proposals—at first considered radical—became law in the decades that followed.”**
“Although the 1937 Legislature had given Benson–an early Socialist sympathizer–little of what he sought, many of his proposals became law during the 40 years that followed–property tax relief for homesteads; higher income tax rates for high-income individuals and corporations; mandatory workers’ compensation coverage for employees; a state Civil Service system; expanded state aid for schools, financed by income taxes; party designation for legislators.”***
“Better is the end of a thing than the beginning thereof; and the patient in spirit is better than the proud in spirit.” Ecclesiastes 7:8 NIV
Eternal Father, today we remember Your patience, and applaud Your forbearing spirit! You allow Your children to struggle as we learn, and do not rush to our aid at the first obstacle. You are perfect in holiness, and yet kind in Your judgments.
We remember with You the governorship of Elmer A. Benson today. We see Your image in his heart to correct monopolistic powers, relieve homesteaders, and ease the burdens of farmers. We see Your image in Governor Benson’s patience and faithfulness. His most treasured goals were not accomplished in his term in office, but like so many leaders, by faith, he eventually saw them put into law. We see that he sought to build consensus in his support for unions, and to establish his Progressive ideals through the law rather than might. Will You bless the changes he initiated, and his heart to make life better for those in society that were suffering?
Will You forgive also the sins of his idealism? Where he overstepped the bounds of the Constitution and inserted the government between employee and employer relationship, will You give balance? Though he acted out his ideals in integrity, will You forgive where his actions of benevolent state government actually diminished individual choice and responsibility for ones’ decisions and actions? In Your mercy, hear our prayer.
We ask that You visit with us the utility of the progressive income tax. In one sense, those most able pay more of the costs of society, and those less able pay less costs of the state. To be more exact, those who earn more, pay a higher percentage of their income, and those who earn less pay a smaller percentage of their income. This is my question to You; if some bear more of the financial burden of society than others, will the sense of ownership and participation be increased as one pays more, and diminished as one pays less?
To take the idea further, what other arena of life do we love more as we participate less? You have said, “Where Your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matthew 6:21) If this is true, then would not those paying a lesser percentage of their income also be investing less of their heart in Minnesota, and those who pay a higher percentage of their income be investing more of their heart in our state?
Help me explore some of the math of Your Word, Jesus. We know that the Israelites were commanded by You to bring 10% of their wealth as an offering.
“‘A tithe of everything from the land, whether grain from the soil or fruit from the trees, belongs to the LORD; it is holy to the LORD.” Leviticus 27:30
But what of the Levites, the priestly lineage, who were not allowed to make wealth, or own property in the same sense of the rest of society?
“And the LORD instructed Moses, Speak to the Levites and say to them: ‘When you receive from the Israelites the tithe I give you as your inheritance, you must present a tenth of that tithe as the LORD’s offering.” Numbers 18:25,26 NIV
So, this is what we can gather from these examples from your chosen people; that You claim 10% of every type of wealth and resource in the land, and that those priests whose income and inheritance is dependent on Your Sovereignty and the gifts of the people must also give back to You 10% of their income. Is this an example of a graduated tithe, which to us may be similar to a tax?
What we do see quite clearly is that giving is proportional, and flexible to the type and amount of wealth one has. Also, it is repeated frequently that no one is exempt from giving to the Sovereign of Israel, but exhorted with the command “none shall appear before me empty-handed”. Please ponder these verses below with the Lord, and see what you think.
“You shall observe the Feast of Unleavened Bread; for seven days you are to eat unleavened bread, as I commanded you, at the appointed time in the month Abib, for in it you came out of Egypt. And none shall appear before Me empty-handed.” Exodus 23:15
“You shall redeem with a lamb the first offspring from a donkey; and if you do not redeem it, then you shall break its neck You shall redeem all the firstborn of your sons. None shall appear before Me empty-handed.” Exodus 34:20
“Three times in a year all your males shall appear before the LORD your God in the place which He chooses, at the Feast of Unleavened Bread and at the Feast of Weeks and at the Feast of Booths, and they shall not appear before the LORD empty-handed.”
While modern society may not relate to commands of this type from You, Good Father, we catch some of Your meaning today. The tithe You command is a parallel to our concept of taxation. Offerings were a parallel of giving beyond the tithe, or what we might think of as charity, from out of a sense of devotion, sharing a blessing, or gratitude, and not necessity or compulsion.
May we find Your way to pay the costs of our society. May the future generations of Minnesotans show respect and humility before Your wisdom in this area. May we all contribute evenly and proportionately to the resources we are allotted by You. May we be free of the greed that comes from too much, and too little. May we not allow the enemy of all to divide us through bitter root judgments of our neighbors’ lineage, rank, or profession. May we trust in Your provision more, and not demand offerings from our community that even You do not demand. May we see the other side of the coin that, perhaps, Governor Benson missed; that failing to give in proportion will also yield a proportional lack of heart commitment to our North Star state! May we all have a sense of participation, ownership, and even joy that comes from not appearing before You or our neighbors empty-handed!
“Will a mere mortal rob God? Yet you rob me.
“But you ask, ‘How are we robbing you?’
“In tithes and offerings. You are under a curse—your whole nation—because you are robbing me. Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the LORD Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it. I will prevent pests from devouring your crops, and the vines in your fields will not drop their fruit before it is ripe,” says the LORD Almighty. “Then all the nations will call you blessed, for yours will be a delightful land,” says the LORD Almighty.
August 19, 1936
“Hjalmar Petersen takes office as the state’s 23rd governor upon the death of Governor Floyd B. Olson. Following his short stint as governor, Petersen tries and fails four times to regain the office.” *
“Hjalmer Petersen, the twenty-third governor of Minnesota, was born in Eskildstrup, Denmark on January 2, 1890. His education was limited and attained in the common schools of Denmark and Minnesota. At fourteen years old, he left school and went to work in the newspaper business, eventually founding the Askov American in 1914, a newspaper he owned the rest of his life. Petersen first entered politics as the clerk and then mayor of Askov. He also served as a member of the Minnesota House of Representatives from 1930 to 1934, and was the lieutenant governor of Minnesota from 1934 to 1936. On August 22, 1936, Governor Floyd B. Olson died in office, and Petersen, who was the lieutenant governor at the time, assumed the duties of the governorship. During his tenure, the federal unemployment insurance law was initiated; several labor disputes were dealt with; and significant judicial appointments were approved. After serving 134 days as governor, Petersen left office on January 2, 1936. He continued to stay politically active, serving as a member of the State Railroad and Warehouse Commission, a position he held until 1966. He also made several unsuccessful bids for the governor’s office, as well as a 1958 run for the U.S. Senate. Governor Hjalmar Petersen passed away on March 29, 1968 in Columbus, Ohio.” **
What did Governor Petersen’s keystone legislation of unemployment look like in his era? Minnesotans who were discharged through no fault of their own were to receive $15 a week for up to 16 weeks as of May 1,1938.*** See the table below to compare and contrast what this amount meant to a worker back at its commencement.****
Shall we pray? Lord, we give You thanks for being the Governor of All, for being our shield and very great reward! We agree with Your covenant promises in Genesis 15 to Abraham and his children that Your favor is greater than the sum of all property, labor, and accomplishments. We remember and bless Your eternal words, and Your heart of unmerited goodness to all who believe!
Will You forgive us our broken trust in Your provision both in Governor Petersen’s era, and in the present? We have accepted wealth from the state that it does not create or own, but extracted from our neighbors. We have accepted the premise that our present condition of dysfunction becomes the problem of our functional neighbors. Will You forgive us this faulty logic and co-dependent relationship(s)?
What if the state had made unemployment insurance voluntary instead of mandatory? We can see at least three immediate benefits immediately from this premise. First, it would allow contributors to share their wealth freely with a true spirit of giving instead of the spirit of extortion through forced charity collected by the state.
Secondly, it would remove politicians from the direct relationship between those with extra and those in need. Maybe this would remove a sense of entitlement of guaranteed benefits, and enable a sense of gratitude and trust towards givers from receivers because they would have no expectations?
Third, it would displace politicians’ from the false narrative that they were the givers of wealth, and undercut the credit they have taken for the gifts of others.
Will You forgive us for trusting in the politicians of Minnesota, and the provisions forced on our neighbor by the co-dependent law of unemployment insurance? We have assumed a co-dependent relationship between giver and receiver and state. Will You help us revisit these issues and remove the expectations, dependency, shame, and manipulation from helping each other? Will You remove what is false and create real relationship, real opportunity to give from the heart, and real gratitude? Will You fulfill the good intentions and desires of Hjalmer Petersen on Your terms, and show us a better, more honest way to love our unemployed neighbor?
“Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” 2 Corinthians 9:7 NIV
citing Sobel, Robert, and John Raimo, eds. Biographical Directory of the Governors of the United States, 1789-1978, Vol. 2, Westport, Conn.; Meckler Books, 1978. 4 vols.
July 16, 1936
“A temperature of 115 degrees Fahrenheit in Moorhead ties a record set in Beardsley in 1917 for the highest ever recorded in the state.” *
Beardsley, Minnesota is a town of 233 people. It sits in the little “elbow” of Minnesota’s western border in Big Stone county. It’s name came from W.W. Beardsley who homesteaded its first farm and platted it ca. 1880.**
Another little snippet about the history of Big Stone county:
“Scientists declare that men lived on the shores of Big Stone Lake and Lake Traverse nearly twelve thousand years ago. A skeleton, thought by some investigators to be that of one of these people, was exhumed from a gravel pit in Browns Valley Village a few miles north of the Big Stone County line, in 1934. It is known as “The Browns Valley Man”. With the skeletons, were six beautiful flint artifacts of the oldest type that has been classified in America.
Evidences of a more recent prehistoric occupancy of Big Stone County by an Indian-like race are plentiful. Overlooking the lower part of Big Stone Lake, scattered along the Minnesota River below the foot of the lake, and on a prominence near Artichoke Lake, are a number of artificial mounds of earth which have been scientifically surveyed and mapped. Most of these mounds are round and of considerable size and some are flat-topped. Features of the fortified site 60 feet above the river at Odessa are an embankment 722 feet long and 20 feet wide with a height of 1½ to 2 feet, and a diamond-shaped mound varying from 42 to 54 feet in diameter, with a flat top, 20 X 28 feet.”***
Ok G-d, I don’t know a lot about this place other than it’s small, farming-oriented, and contains some ancient history. Oh, and it’s the site of the hottest recorded heat in my home state. Where do You want to lead me in prayer today?
I begin with giving thanks for this small town. You care about each and every place in this universe, and so I commend You for being so watchful over it today. We remember You as the Observant One of All today!
Next, I want to express gratitude for Your creation of weather, and how You masterfully control the climate of the world for the benefit of all creation, and for Your greatest purposes. We do not ponder enough how exactly You limit the range of high temperatures within the fairly narrow bandwidth that we can survive. Thank You, dear Father, that our high temperature record is only 115 degrees Fahrenheit!
However, we can be so fickle as a people because of the yearly swings we endure in our weather. Few places on the earth have a larger average yearly temperature swing. Where else on earth can it feel like 115 degrees in the summer, and down to minus 30 degrees in the winter?**** Forgive our offense to You in cursing the summer heat, and grumbling about the most frigid times in winter.
In sum, we thank You for the extremes of our climate, and for how they shape our character as a people. We are somewhat forced to relent and remember that we can’t control all the variables of our lives, and that is a good realization. We invite Your continued blessings on the weather over Beardsley, Big Stone, and the entire North Star State. Well done! You are the peace when we can’t take the heat!