Uncategorized

Borlaug Receives Nobel Prize

Norman Borlaug. Life Magazine.

December 10, 1970
Norman Borlaug, a graduate of the University of Minnesota, wins the Nobel Peace Prize. A leader in the fight against world hunger, Borlaug has developed a new high-yield, disease-resistant strain of wheat that greatly improves the crops of poorer countries.*

Norman Ernest Borlaug was born March 25, 1914 in northeast Iowa to father Henry and mother Clara (Vaala) Borlaug. Howard County and the nearby town of Saude were comprised of mostly Norwegian-Americans. His family tree is typical of the area in that the Borlaug and Vaala branches both came from Norway circa 1850 and settled on a simple farm that maintained a bread and butter existence. **

His youth could be encapsulated in a few key events that seem extreme to modern ears, but suffering was not lost on his generation. As a kindergarten student, he got stranded in a winter storm and had to be rescued from a snowbank by his cousin Sina. He loves working with grandfather Nels, and becomes his “shadow”. (This same cousin, Sina, pushed his parents to educate Norm beyond the 7th grade and not keep him on the farm. “She states that Norm might not become a great scholar but he has great promise and he has grit.” He witnesses the Spanish flu pandemic of 1918-1920, and brings food to the sick with his mother. All work on the farm is done with draft horses or human power until 1929 when they get their first tractor.**

Again, it seems Borlaug’s direction was shaped by the timely intervention of a friend; this time it was none other than star Minnesota Gopher running back George Champlin ca. 1931-34. George actually drove out to the Borlaug farm and talked him into the educational and athletic opportunity of the University of Minnesota: as a student, as a strong wrestler, and as a hopeful for the football program. In those days, when outstate tuition was $25 per quarter and rent $5/month, a student with a job could truly pay their own way. **

If we fast forward thirty five years to Dr. Borlaug’s award of the Nobel Peace Prize of 1970, we find an article, (printed entirely) that validates his choice in education and vocation.

“A central figure in the “green revolution”, Norman Ernest Borlaug (born March 25, 1914) was born on a farm near Cresco, Iowa, to Henry and Clara Borlaug. For the past twenty-seven years he has collaborated with Mexican scientists on problems of wheat improvement; for the last ten or so of those years he has also collaborated with scientists from other parts of the world, especially from India and Pakistan, in adapting the new wheats to new lands and in gaining acceptance for their production. An eclectic, pragmatic, goal-oriented scientist, he accepts and discards methods or results in a constant search for more fruitful and effective ones, while at the same time avoiding the pursuit of what he calls “academic butterflies”. A vigorous man who can perform prodigies of manual labor in the fields, he brings to his work the body and competitive spirit of the trained athlete, which indeed he was in his high school and college days.

After completing his primary and secondary education in Cresco, Borlaug enrolled in the University of Minnesota where he studied forestry. Immediately before and immediately after receiving his Bachelor of Science degree in 1937, he worked for the U.S. Forestry Service at stations in Massachusetts and Idaho. Returning to the University of Minnesota to study plant pathology, he received the master’s degree in 1939 and the doctorate in 1942.

From 1942 to 1944, he was a microbiologist on the staff of the du Pont de Nemours Foundation where he was in charge of research on industrial and agricultural bactericides, fungicides, and preservatives.

In 1944 he accepted an appointment as geneticist and plant pathologist assigned the task of organizing and directing the Cooperative Wheat Research and Production Program in Mexico. This program, a joint undertaking by the Mexican government and the Rockefeller Foundation, involved scientific research in genetics, plant breeding, plant pathology, entomology, agronomy, soil science, and cereal technology. Within twenty years he was spectacularly successful in finding a high-yielding short-strawed, disease-resistant wheat.

To his scientific goal he soon added that of the practical humanitarian: arranging to put the new cereal strains into extensive production in order to feed the hungry people of the world – and thus providing, as he says, “a temporary success in man’s war against hunger and deprivation,” a breathing space in which to deal with the “Population Monster” and the subsequent environmental and social ills that too often lead to conflict between men and between nations. Statistics on the vast acreage planted with the new wheat and on the revolutionary yields harvested in Mexico, India, and Pakistan are given in the presentation speech by Mrs. Lionaes and in the Nobel lecture by Dr. Borlaug. Well advanced, also, is the use of the new wheat in six Latin American countries, six in the Near and Middle East, several in Africa.

When the Rockefeller and Ford Foundations in cooperation with the Mexican government established the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT), an autonomous international research training institute having an international board of trustees and staff, Dr. Borlaug was made director of its International Wheat Improvement Program. In this capacity he has been able to realize more fully a third objective, that of training young scientists in research and production methods. From his earliest days in Mexico he has, to be sure, carried on an intern program, but with the establishment of the Center, he has been able to reach out internationally. In the last seven years some 1940 young scientists from sixteen or so countries (the figures constantly move upward) have studied and worked at the Center.

Dr. Borlaug is presently participating in extensive experimentation with triticale, a man-made species of grain derived from a cross between wheat rye that shows promise of being superior to either wheat or rye in productivity and nutritional quality.

In addition to the Nobel Peace Prize, Dr. Borlaug has received extensive recognition from universities and organizations in six countries: Canada, India, Mexico, Norway, Pakistan, the United States. In 1968 he received an especially satisfying tribute when the people of Ciudad Obregon, Sonora, Mexico, in whose area he did some of his first experimenting, named a street in his honor.” ***

But now we turn to give You honor, Lord of the Harvest, the Emancipator of Ecology, and the Seed of All Life! We sit humbly and wait for Your yield. You balance the cosmos better than any scale. You prompt the “instincts” of every form of creaturely life in precise time. And this astounds us further; it is not for Your benefit, (Your contentment and confidence endures forever), that all this cultivation occurs. All the growing, sowing, and reaping in this universe are to benefit we creatures!?!

Yes, You are the greatest! The King of the Universe! Yet You only ask that we bring a tithe of all You give us. (For those unfamiliar with this notion, it’s as if a stranger gave you $100, and then asked if you could pay forward or share $10 in gratitude.) I.e. Proverbs 19:17 “Whoever is generous to the poor lends to the Lord, and he will repay him for his deed.”

But our benevolent King is even more generous than this; He loves those who give lavishly out of joy and trust. Perhaps this is the implied meaning in the story of Cain and Abel? These, the first brothers of the earth’s first family, bought the first fruits of their first harvest, or did they? Abel gave “fat portions from some of the firstborn of his flock”. Cain did not, but gave of his crops “in the course of time”. G-d accepted Abel’s first fruits, but rejected Cain’s. Lord, was this because Cain gave You his leftovers instead of his best? He seemed to give after he was sure he would have a surplus, and perhaps, out of duty rather than exuberant gratitude and trust of the Grower of All Things. Only You know, but again we see a hint of Your heart in Hebrews 11:4 from the pen of Paul.
“By faith Abel brought God a better offering than Cain did. By faith he was commended as righteous, when God spoke well of his offerings. And by faith Abel still speaks, even though he is dead.”

Can we move with You now, Spirit of Life, to contemplate the history of Mr. Borlaug? Let’s begin with relish, shall we? Help us remember, and commend to You, the Council of Heaven, and the ekklesia things great and small that You have done to shape Norman’s life!

We cheer his connection with his grandfather! How nurturing and honoring it is when young men are patiently listened to and taught by their male elders. We remember the input of Grandpa Nels and the impact of his teaching on young Norman. We see echoes of this in Borlaug’s joy in teaching, mentoring, and co-working with “dirty hands scientists” a.k.a. applied agricultural research and production students. ****

Applause to You, Sovereign, for the nurturing female friendship of his cousin Sina. Where would he be without her bravery that rescued him from the blizzard? Who would advocate for his intellect were it not for her recognizance of Your spark in him? Thank You that Sina truly appreciated the tenacity and grit that would propel him through future intellectual blockades as well as physical obstacles.

Again, we commend Your name and abilities to shape a life, Eternal Father! Mr. Borlaug learned how to respond to a pandemic from the example of his mother Clara. He gained a heart of compassion through caring for the sick who could not even feed themselves! What nurse is better than the neighbor who knows us and our our home?

In the end, we think of the perpetual motion of his father Henry. It was his arms and legs that were the tractors that powered the farm. His guts and determination raised the level of their survival, in spite of losing his son’s labor during the school year. We remember his kinetic energy and commitment to the survival and betterment of the Borlaug family.

Next we look at the transformative events of Dr. Borlaug’s educational years with You at the University of Minnesota. The first of these is not academic, but competitive and relational in nature. What role did this tremendous school and its students play in Borlaug’s life?

Were it not for the persistence of the athletic George Champlin, and his commitment to drive out to meet Norman in person, would this exceptional human being have attended teachers college in Iowa? Once there, would he have studied forestry, plant pathology, and microbiology? Would his character and physical man be hardened by wrestling and enjoyment of football? Lord, it seems sure the course of Norman’s life was steered by this; another significant relationship. We thank You that Mr. Champlin was able to encourage young Norman to choose a different mountain to climb! We praise You that his academic and sporting years at the University of Minnesota pointed him to discover Your vision of what he could possibly achieve!

How can we credit the impact of a single speech on a young adult? Borlaug’s pathway shifted after attending the Sigma Xi lecture by the innovative Elvin Charles Stakman. Dr. Borlaug credits Stakman with convincing him to invest his future in plant pathology instead of forest pathology. Later, it is Stakman that offers him a chance to impact hunger as a geneticist in Mexico and eschewing the security of a career with Du Pont. * We pause to remember that through Stakman, Norman heard Your “bat kol”; which means “daughter of voice, sound, and resonance” in Hebrew.

We also thank You for the controversies and even sharp professional differences of his life. A major thread of his work life is termed the “Borlaug hypothesis”. This position argues that by maximizing crops yields through responsible fertilization and insecticides (including DDT), we ultimately best protect our ecosystem. How? When agricultural lands are productive, then we don’t have deforestation or other habitats being converted to farm lands.

This core belief was a point of disagreement in an otherwise mostly positive relationship with Rachel Carson. He argued with the famed author of “Silent Spring” that we don’t have to sacrifice our ecosystems or human life. We can feed the world, and protect the environment at the same time. Lord, we remember with You this bone of contention, but also thank You that we are sharpened and refined by our adversaries.

Now, we turn to ask and intercede in this moment of history. What will You bring to our spirit? What points of separation need addressing as illustrated in in Dr. Borlaug’s life 1914 through 1970?

We remember the covenant and committed relationships of our family and friends. Let’s use each as a point of repentance and blessing:

Grandfather Nels – Norman received a sense of being and curiosity from his grandad. Will You forgive us our glossing over the stories and lessons they are constantly trying to teach us? Will You forgive our offense of closing our ears to their wisdom? Will You bless Minnesota with renewed connection between grandpa and grandkids?

Sina – Sometimes, it is a woman who rescues a man! We praise You for our aunts and cousins. Forgive us from closing our minds to her insights. When we reject her, we have rejected You. Will You forgive us this offense? We have rejected Your Spirit spoken through them and have offended You. Will You reverse this curse and leave us with a blessing of women who will face the blizzard in Minnesota?

Buddy George – Messiah, how grateful we are for true friends! We remember the life altering chat Champlin had with Norman. What if he didn’t listen to Your voice that day? But he did! Jesus, we thank You so much for new life we get from a real friend. Will You forgive us when we fail our friends by fearing to offer a challenge to their point of view? We trust so little in the power of friendship. In this, we deeply offend You, and block so much love, goodness, and connectedness from our lives. Will You heal us to put ourselves out for the blessing of others when it is in our power to do so?

Clara – Master, we acknowledge to You the compassion taught to Norman through this good woman! It’s just like You to enable us to feed and heal others, and especially so when it is truly a danger of getting sick ourselves. Where we haven’t taken in the compassion of our mothers, will You forgive us? We have denied You when we ignore Mom’s big heart. Will You bless Minnesota with Clara’s brand of selfless healing, and willingness to just plain help our neighbors?

Henry – Holy One, we see You in Norman’s dad Henry. We can feel the Norwegian stoicism that never gave in to pity or stopped working to bless his family. Will You give us honor for our fathers who work too hard? Will You bless Minnesotan’s to lighten his load, and pay our respects to dad? Will You bless our future with such men who live to better the next generation? Where we ignore them, we have ignored You. Forgive us as we forgive our fathers!

Lord, why are we a people so full of judgment? Here is man who quite possibly and quite literally lived up to his press; “The man who fed a billion people.” Yet, he is both loved and hated to this day. Will You hear us as we repent for these further points of prayerful discussion?

For our first flow chart, we see that Stakman led Borlaug into genetics, which led to CIMMYT (Centro Internacional de Mejoramiento de Maíz y Trigo), which resulted in astounding crops yields 50, 60, or 70x their original yields, and millions of Mexicans fed. (Later, millions of Indians, and Africans would be fed through similar programs.) What began in the past as cross polinization, can now entail changes to a species DNA or mRNA. Though this technology offers us dazzling possibilities, it’s critics argue that we may permanently alter individual species and cause ripple effects through the ecosystem.

To these conflicts past and their lingering echoes present we plead to the Lord, will You first heal us from our judgments? Will You forgive Borlaug’s critics past, present, and future of their bitter judgments of his awe-inspiring work to advance food science and environmental science? We, his beneficiaries, can go off half-cocked!

We can often criticize with so little accurate information as to the depths of human suffering he fought to alleviate. What would we do if we could attempt a cure for hunger knowing full well that we may fail? Isn’t learning from that observable failure the very heart of science? Perhaps, this explains Borlaug’s admiration for “dirty handed scientists”; at some point theoretical science must be left behind. Someone must make a brave decision to make a valiant experiment, or abandon progress. Where we have judged this scientist, we have judged You. Where Borlaug judged his detractors, he appears to have judged You. Will You forgive the North Star state and bless us as agricultural scientists in the future?

Lastly, we face the dilemma of the food scientist versus environmental scientist. Wise Judge, will You hear the pain in the face-off between the man who longs to ease human suffering, Norman Borlaug, and the woman who longed to end the suffering of ecosphere, Rachel Carson? We can see much more accurately in hindsight that they both had profound overlap and admiration for each other as scientists. We also can accept that they simply had differing professional opinions. Yet, what could explain these schisms that have grown between the farmer and the ecologist?

Perhaps it could come down to the locus of their study? Was Carson, as environmentalists are prone to do, viewing the world as collection of interdependent systems? Could this explain that she saw hunger through an external, macrocosmic lens? Was she a theoretic scientist, or one with dirty hands?

Conversely, Borlaug in his genetic studies, perhaps, saw the world through a microcosmic lens. His focus on making minute, internal changes that would manifest in the next generation. He answered one question at a time, and led thousands of others in similar experiments. He seemed to only theorize when a hypothesis failed.

Eternal Father, will You balance us so that we can contribute, like Dr. Borlaug, to right the imbalance of food resources on this planet? Will You give us the grace, like Carson, to dare to ask huge systemic questions? Will You give both types of researchers the humility to restrain themselves to evidence-based science? We have greatly offend Our Father where we judged our neighbor on these points. Will You bless us to see your Creation as sufficient? Will You make us wise to create proper boundaries around genetics? May we also feed our prideful hunger for significance, and accept that You already have spoken inalienable worth into every life? How we love You, and need You to survive!

“The recognition that hunger and social strife are linked is not new, for it is evidenced by the Old Testament passage, ‘and it came to pass that when they shall be hungry they shall fret themselves, and curse their King and their God.” Norman Borlaug quoting Isaiah 8:21 in his Nobel Peace Prize 1970 acceptance speech.

Matthew 13-37-43 ESV
“He answered, “The one who sows the good seed is the Son of Man. The field is the world, and the good seed is the sons of the kingdom. The weeds are the sons of the evil one, and the enemy who sowed them is the devil. The harvest is the close of the age, and the reapers are angels. Just as the weeds are gathered and burned with fire, so will it be at the close of the age. The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will gather out of his kingdom all causes of sin and all law-breakers, …”

P.T.H. cites timeline formerly at this URL: mnhs.org/about/dipity_timeline.htm
** College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences. Internet. https://borlaug.cfans.umn.edu/about-borlaug/child
*** Norman Borlaug – Biographical. NobelPrize.org. Nobel Prize Outreach AB 2022. Mon. 7 Mar 2022. https://www.nobelprize.org/prizes/peace/1970/borlaug/biographical/
From Nobel Lectures, Peace 1951-1970, Editor Frederick W. Haberman, Elsevier Publishing Company, Amsterdam, 1972
**** Internet. Iowa State University. Library. Curation Services. Norman Borlaug – Revolutionary. Created 1971. Posted December 12, 2018. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DkCTV2S3jZo
University of Minnesota. 2005.”Borlaug and the University of Minnesota”. Archived from the original on March 10, 2005. Retrieved June 18, 2005.
* Borlaug, Norman E. Mankind And Civilization At Another Crossroad (Speech). UN FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations). 7th McDougall Memorial Lecture.

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20th Century, History, Uncategorized, women

First Minnesota Woman to Serve in Congress

“Coya Knutson at the piano, 1954.” Minnesota Historical Society. https://libguides.mnhs.org/knutson/primary

1955 to 1958
Cornelia “Coya” Knutson (1912-1996) was the first Minnesota woman to serve in the United States House of Representatives. She served from 1955 to 1958. Her legacy as Minnesota’s first female representative in Congress remains, as does the initiatives she pushed for regarding student loans, cystic fibrosis, and Minnesota farms.*
What a joy to find that this pioneering woman in Minnesota politics had the foresight to compile her own archives. What better evidence of a life exists than the testimony of the one who lived it? Enjoy the summary below left by the Honorable United States Representative Knutson!

“Cornelia Genevive Knutson, or “Coya” as she was commonly known, was born in Edmore, North Dakota, August 23, 1912, the daughter of Christian and Christine (Anderson) Gjesdal. She received a B.S. degree in English and music at Concordia College (Moorhead, Minnesota) and did post-graduate work at Moorhead State Teachers College and at the Julliard School of Music. She began her career as a high school teacher in Oklee, Minnesota, and married Andrew Knutson on March 21, 1940. She served in the state Agricultural Adjustment Administration (1941-1942), as a member of the Red Lake County Board (1948-1950), and as a representative from the 65th district in the Minnesota House of Representatives from 1951 to 1954. As a Democratic-Farmer-Labor candidate in Minnesota’s ninth congressional district, Knutson defeated Harold Hagen, a twelve year incumbent, to become the first Minnesota woman to be elected to the United States House of Representatives. She held that position from 1955 to 1958. Knutson was defeated in 1958, and campaigned unsuccessfully for the seat in 1960…” **

What so abruptly curtailed the momentum of this bright woman’s political career? It appears that she was the target of a focussed “shame campaign”. Now we go to a sound source on the topic; the Minnesota Legislative Reference Library to clarify the method(s) used to halt this good woman.
“She was the only Democrat in the United States House of Representatives to lose to a Republican in the 1958 election. The upset came after her husband urged her to leave Congress. Headlines around the U.S. featured his plea: “Coya, Come Home.” The Knutson’s were later divorced. (Coya Knutson, New York Times, December 26, 1976)” ***
So, can we defer that this attack on the Honorable Representative Knutson is at least two-pronged: publicly shaming her for pursuing leadership instead of matronly pursuits, and a blatant appeal to pity? While I do not have supporting evidence, the circumstantial evidence makes clear that the rhetoric used against her attacked her as a mother of her adopted son Terry, and as a supportive wife to her husband Andy.

I find the shameful emotional manipulation of her husband especially repugnant. While this case also piles on the sexism of mid-century mid-western values, this type of attack is nothing new. For those who study rhetoric, it is known as an “ad misericordiam” argument defined as: an appeal to pity or compassion. A quick search of the Center for Hellenic Studies-Harvard University reveals numerous cases recorded in Ancient Greek literature. Shall I list a few of the more famous examples? We see ad misericordiam arguments and attacks in: “Apology” (Socrates and Plato), “Wasps” (Aristophanes), and the famed speech of Demosthenes “Against Meidias”. **** all this to establish that the attacks on Coya followed the low bar of rhetoric set over twenty four centuries before her.

What is it about appeals to pity and shame that make such an emotional impact? Dr. Brene Brown has studied shame, vulnerability, and courage for decades. I’ve pulled a few quotes that may crystallize the impacts of shame.
“Shame derives its power from being unspeakable.”
“We judge people in areas where we’re vulnerable to shame.”
“Shame, blame, disrespect, betrayal, and the withholding of affection damage the roots from which love grows. Love can only survive these injuries if they are acknowledged, healed and rare.” *
May I unpack these, statement by statement?

When one is attacked through media, in this case radio and newspaper articles, it is not a two-way debate. How could Coya publicly defend herself while only the reporter holds the microphone or pen? These are the kind of questions that have no answer, and to which there is no expectation of an answer; they are only intended to attack a person and not the problem. To Brown’s second statement, we find a public willing to project their judgment of Rep. Knutson in precisely the same areas they felt the most vulnerable as mothers and husbands. To the last point, I see the insecurities of a husband that loves too little attempting to regain control. Though an adult, he seems to be unable to celebrate her success, or privately, thoughtfully, and constructively convey his objections to her career. Too often, wounded people will choose ego over love, and pride over understanding.

So we move towards You; the Healer of the Universe! You offer us real relationship with the Only Complete personality of all time! You offer us the gift of vulnerability, and are immune to our attempts to emotionally manipulate the Maker of Emotions!

We commend the forerunning of Cornelia Genevive Knutson to You today. We honor her contributions to the benefits to our farmers and those who love the outdoors. We honor her bravery to step outside the schisms in her marriage and the cultural mores of Minnesota to embrace the loneliness of leadership.

In her era, by the Cross of Christ, the Blood of Christ, the Resurrection of Christ, and the Eternal Word of G-d we come to acknowledge our heinous separations and offenses against You. We shamed Coya into compliance instead of Your adventure for her. We wrote or believed written misbeliefs, disbeliefs, unbeliefs, and falsehoods about her and the Knutson family. We not only withhold our approval of her as a human being, but withheld our votes and broke relationship with her through false accusations based on mostly false information. When we judged Coya, where we judged Coya, we have also judged Your confidence and pleasure in her. Will You forgive us?

Conversely, by the Cross of Christ, the Blood of Christ, the Resurrection of Christ, and the Eternal Word of G-d we make these healing declarations over the Knutson lineage, and all Minnesotans present and future. We declare and invite the leadership of women who fear-respect You, and love the law. We declare the doors of shame through media closed over Minnesota’s leadership, and ask that the scales of wisdom and discernment equalize and come into perfect balance. We declare the era of “gotcha politics” over, and invite You to mature us a people willing and able to: agree well, disagree well, love our enemies, seek the benefits of others before ourselves, and remain in relationship in all our present and future political discourse. May we all “Come home” to our Christ who gave the example of selfless service out of a full heart! Amen!

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off every encumbrance and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with endurance the race set out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.…” Hebrews 12:1-2 Berean Study Bible

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20th Century, authors, History, Immigration, Minnesota, omnipresent history, Prayer

“Giants in the Earth” Published 1927

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1927

“Ole Rølvaag, a Norwegian-born professor at St. Olaf College in Northfield, publishes Giants in the Earth, his brooding, epic novel of immigrant pioneer life. The book becomes a huge success both in Norway and the United States.” *

“The infinitude surrounding her on every hand might not have been so oppressive, might even have brought her a measure of peace, if it had not been for the deep silence, which lay heavier here than in a church. Indeed, what was there to break it? She had passed beyond the outposts of civilization; the nearest dwelling places of men were far away. Here no warbling of birds rose on the air, no buzzing of insects sounded; even the wind had died away; the waving blades of grass that trembled to the faintest breath now stood erect and quite, as if listening, in the great hush of the evening….”

Giants in the Earth, excerpt from Chapter II “Home-founding.” *

Rolvaag, named after his birthplace five miles from the Arctic Circle, was born one of seven children in 1876. He worked as a fisherman with his father and brothers for six years until he was recruited to be a farmhand in South Dakota at age twenty. After a few years, he went after his education graduating from: Augustana Academy in 1901, Saint Olaf both in 1905 (B.A.), and 1910 (MA). His rugged life experiences gave authenticity and realism to his recollections of the struggles of Norwegian pioneers in the Midwestern United States.**

We remember, with You, the plight of the pioneers from Norway to the Midwest. We remember that this earth is Yours, as well as all its peoples and resources, and that in Your forbearance You move them where You choose. So we give thanks for the example of these aliens, and that within their hardships of displacement that they were perfectly placed to thrive by the King of the Universe!

We give thanks to You for the life and extreme austerity experienced by Ole Rolvaag. He knew both the frigid waters of Norway’s Lofoten fishing area, and the burning sun of South Dakota. He battled the elements for the privilege to enrich his mind, and truly took in the discipline and lessons of both.

We recognize the tribulations of the Norwegian characters of “Giants in the Earth”, and reflect on their lessons for all peoples at all times. Each immigrant must wrestle the elements of his environment, a culture that is unfamiliar, and the loneliness for home. We also ponder the judgments of aliens against Your Sovereignty.

Will You forgive our ancestors their environmental judgments against their new home land? Will You forgive the thoughts and words this wave of Norwegians made in their attempt to tame the “amber waves of grain”? Will You forgive our judgments in this era of them? We have forgotten what pestilence means: losing whole crops to blight, grasshoppers, and fire. 

Will You forgive Norwegian Americans their judgments and false assessments of their neighbors? They encountered foreigners, also from Europe, who though racially similar held no common culture or language. They met Native Americans who led migratory lives following the buffalo. Again, somewhat relatable to fisherman following their catch, but different. For all their cultural struggles we seek Your mercy. 

Granted, these are stalwart, hearty people who endured much more than our present generations, but even giants have hearts of flesh. Because of Your kindness, will You forgive the inward struggles of these pioneers? It’s understandable that one would ask, “Who am I?” while at home, but even more so, “Who am I in this new place?”  Will You forgive their sins of fear and doubt related to their identity stemming from Norway rather than the Maker of Norway?

We, like them, are displaced from the heritage of our Creator. Much of our travail is that our identity is based on geography, ethnicity, and culture, but these are comforting false gods. Will You give us an unshakable sense of place that can only come from the Cornerstone of the Universe and Your unchanging Word? 

17″You shall not pervert the justice due an alien or an orphan, nor take a widow’s garment in pledge. 18″But you shall remember that you were a slave in Egypt, and that the LORD your God redeemed you from there; therefore I am commanding you to do this thing. 19″When you reap your harvest in your field and have forgotten a sheaf in the field, you shall not go back to get it; it shall be for the alien, for the orphan, and for the widow, in order that the LORD your God may bless you in all the work of your hands.…

Deuteronomy 24:17-19 NASB***

* http://www.mnhs.org/about/dipity_timeline.htm

**https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ole_Edvart_Rølvaag

***http://biblehub.com/deuteronomy/24-18.htm

 

 

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19th Century, Agriculture, farming, Food, Health, History, Intercession, Minnesota

Butter and Cheese Organizes 1882

s-l225

March 17, 1882

“The Minnesota State Butter and Cheese Association organizes to promote dairy farming in the state.” *

Lord, thanks for blessing the dairy business in this state and throughout the midwest! To a present-day native Minnesotan, it is strange to think that diary farming would need promotion. Lord, will you do your best for this essential business? Will You bless the farms, farmers, their animals, and generations in the name of Jesus?

*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!

Learn more about the dairy industry? http://www.umdia.org/about.html

 

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19th Century, Agriculture, Business, education, farming, Food, History, horses, Intercession, Minnesota, omnipresent history, Science, trade

Kelley on the Grange

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1867
“Elk River homesteader Oliver H. Kelley, claiming to be “as full of public spirit as a dog is full of fleas,” leads the founding of the Patrons of Husbandry, or Grange.
The organization, which includes women as equal members, sweeps across rural America, promoting scientific agriculture and enriching the social and cultural life of farm families.” *

What was Mr. Kelley like as a human, Jesus? What desires did You put into his nature for his fellow farmers?
“Encourage them to read and think; to plant fruits and flowers,—beautify their homes; elevate them; make them progressive,” he wrote in a letter to a friend. “I long to see the great army of producers in our country, turn their eyes up from their work; stir up those brains, now mere machines … set them to think,—let them feel that they are human beings, the strength of the nation, their labor honorable, and farming the highest calling on earth.” **

His zeal reminds me of the heart of the Benedictines, whom are renowned for “ora et labora”; prayer and work. Dear Father, how we need that balance between heart and head! Kelley, sort of, reminds me of those with a prophetic calling who operate in the spirit of encouragement. ***

Lord, make more like Kelley, who want to lift up humanity! Lord, may those of us who have this call remain humble, and not cross over in judgment of our neighbor! Will You grow the Grange, and dignify our labor today?
http://www.mnhs.org/about/dipity_timeline.htm
** http://www.mnopedia.org/person/kelley-oliver-hudson-1826-1913
*** http://www.religious-vocation.com/differences_religious_orders.html
**** Images are from https://images.google.com/?gws_rd=ssl; again, an amazing resource!

 

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19th Century, Business, Economics, History, Logging, Minnesota, Native Americans, trade

Stillwater as Lumber Center 1844

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Maine lumberman John McKusick forms the Stillwater Lumber Company. Other New Englanders follow, making Stillwater the early center of Minnesota lumbering.*

May I watch this moment in 1844 with You? Can I sit with You on the east bank of the St. Croix bluff and take in the whole valley? I can practically smell the forest, and feel the calming flow of the St. Croix river.
On this day I remember to You the Ojibwe and Dakota nations that shared this land with us. Will You remember their open-handedness? I thank You for all, past present and future, who are blessed by this kindness.

The forests of this valley, and its’ proximity to such a wide river must have been an amazing discovery to lumbermen like McKusick. Huge trees could be harvested, rolled downhill, and floated to the sawmill. What prime real estate for the woodsman?!

May I thank You for Mc Kusick and the utility of these vast stands of timber? May we ponder the needs those woods supplied for that generation? Thank You for the hard, but good work provided through logging in that era.

As with almost any endeavor, with success comes competition. I know too little about the specifics of the competitive nature of these loggers in Stillwater, but relate to them as human who knows what it’s like to protect something valuable. It is easy to over invest in one’s work, to have our nose so close to the grindstone that we can’t see beyond it.

Will You forgive their fears of losing face, of being lesser? Will You forgive their offenses to You and each other through over harvesting, stealing logs, ignoring boundaries? Will You bless those who practiced happy competition, and enjoyed the camaraderie of Your woods?

Last thought, You present us with an odd paradox in our behavior; we often love what we harvest. Who loves the soil more than the farmer? Who loves ducks like their hunters? Who loves the woods like the logger? Who loves words like the writer?

Thank You for whatever it is we harvest now, or our future generations! May we humbly acknowledge You, and our dependence on Your resources. You commanded the Hebrews to not harvest up to the edges of their fields, but leave some behind so the needy would have food. Will You bless us to do this now and always, whatever our field or forest looks like?

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