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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, ekklesia, History

Minnesota Governor Harold LeVander: A Quiet Storm

The appointment of the first Met Council by Gov. Harold LeVander, seated center, in 1967. minnpost.com

January 2, 1967-January 4, 1971
About 1966, a Minnesota attorney unknown to many outside legal circles decided to throw his hat in the ring. He was, by definition, a true outsider who had no political experience other than vaguely supporting the Republican Party. Yet, Governor Le Vander arguably changed the premise of Minnesota’s politics more than his peers in a single four year term.

To backpedal, Karl Harold Phillip Le Vander was born in Swede Home, Nebraska on October 10th, 1910. His parents were Swedish immigrants, and the family followed his father’s call as a Lutheran minister to St. Paul. This calling led the family to move frequently before settling in Watertown circa 1926.

Young Harold loved high school and sports and excelled at both until his graduation in 1928. He went to Gustavus Adolphus for his undergraduate degree where he competed in the debate team, played football, but excelled in hurdles and pole vault for their track team. * Le Vander matriculated in 1932 from the famed Swedish institute, and headed for the University of Minnesota to study law receiving his LL.D. in 1935. ** Other than his brief time as Governor, he remained active as an attorney with Le Vander, Gillen & Miller through the remainder of his life.

So, what of his years as a politician as the 32nd Governor of Minnesota 1967-1971? Perhaps this moderate Republican’s term could be summed up with the phrase “clarification and consolidation”. His cornerstone accomplishments sought to clarify gray areas in law, and to consolidate the structures of leadership to operate more efficiently.

Governor Le Vander differed with many of his party, and acted to demonstrate that big government could be a force for good. Out of the gate he re-organized the structure of the Executive Branch, and dove headlong into a series of “firsts” in Minnesota politics. He greatly expanded the funding of regional governments and schools supported by the first sales tax and $1 billion budget. The term “Le Vander’s pennies” entered the local vernacular in reference to this major change. ***
Another of his famous “firsts” was that Minnesota became the first state to ratify the 26th Amendment of the U. S. Constitution. This law lowered the voting age to 18 years old, and clarified the issue and the dissonance brought by the Viet Nam War. He believed along with many of these draftees, that if they were “old enough to fight, then they were old enough to vote.” ***

Next, he sought to elucidate our legal boundaries: human to human, and human to nature. As to the former, he created the Department of Human Rights to protect our civil rights through the Minnesota Human Rights Act largely considered to one of the strongest in the nation. **** To the latter, he created the Pollution Control Agency “ensuring that every Minnesotan has healthy air, sustainable lands, clean water, and a better climate.” *****

His coup de gras, in terms of consolidating regional authority, came with the formation of the Metropolitan Council. Le Vander wanted this agency for long-range planning: of a transportation for the 21st century, and to aid in regional development. As an institution, it is an anomaly in that it is granted power to override the decisions and actions of local governments.

Despite the honor of receiving the most votes to date as a Republican, Governor Le Vander declined the opportunity before his primary. *** His decisions, and the institutions of government they initiated in his one and only term, are still with us today. No longer would Minnesota be a place without a plan, or disengaged decentralization.

We pivot to You, Father. We come to You for clarity. We get disjointed and need Your “consolidatus”; (Latin) make us solid again. Our first step towards this is remembering that You are El Roi, (the Strong One who continually sees), and reveals Himself more and more. Yet, You are King of the Universe, the True Judge, and though a never ending enigma, You reveal Your laws in ways we all can easily understand. Glad to increasingly know You, dear Father, and to be known!

Let’s start with giving You praise for the wisdom of Governor Le Vander and his heart to make clear our laws, and to facilitate consolidated efforts across the spectrum of civic leadership from the state level down to every township. It seems good and right that the weight of our legislation is much lighter when spread out, and the horses are all hitched and pulling in the same direction! Your Word bears witness to this principle in many places, but this is the specific word I hear now.
“Two are better than one because they have a good return for their labor. For if either of them falls, the one will lift up his companion. But woe to the one who falls when there is not another to lift him up.” Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 NASB

Can we mull some of his noteworthy accomplishments with You now, dear Source? Will You bring discernment into these milestones of Le Sander’s administration from 1967-1971? Help us identify what is pleasing, what is honorable, and what may be an offense in these actions towards Your Kingdom.

As a first cause, we take note of the Department of Human Rights. While any sentient person could easily agree with the notion that everyone deserves equality, dignity, and freedom from discrimination based on any sort of physical markers or attributes. Do not all of G-d’s children deserve a life free from discrimination?

However, we can also attribute some inherent motive conflicts when Minnesota’s government attempted to become the authors and enforcers of virtues of the heart. Those critical of civil rights in this era, often were skeptical of such legal changes because they inserted the power of government into relationships it formerly had no authority over. It raised the question of “who” gets to differentiate wise and unwise choices in Harold Le Vander’s epoch; the government or the individual?

Further, Civil Rights were posited as a solution to the failures to treat people equally under the law. Yet, doesn’t this very notion betray that the government was also a guilty party in denying the rights of its citizens before its ratification? For example, did the neighbors living in the Rondo neighborhood create a system of “redlining” to shut out unwanted ethnicities, or was this the work of those well-familiar with the law such as: the City Council of Saint Paul, Ramsey County, and the Federal Housing Authority?

So we appeal our broken track record, as individuals and as State institutions, of our failures to acknowledge the image of G-d and the civil rights of our people. Will You forgive us as individuals when and where our discrimination denied Your Image within our neighbors? Will You similarly forgive us our misapplications of the laws and denials of justice as extensions of city, county, Minnesota, and Federal governments? Will You take this root offense up, out, and onto the Cross of Christ? Will You impart to us the gifts necessary to govern ourselves as You give the Department of Human Rights the same humility?

My next point of prayer touches Your environment in the formation of the Pollution Control Agency. Again, at first glance, who could rationally be opposed to “healthy air, sustainable lands, clean water, and a better climate”? Enforcing laws is normally a cut and dried issue when it comes to shared resources, but perhaps, the dirty little secret of compliance is that even “good” laws can become overly bureaucratic and subject to corruption.

May I offer You a brief example, Father? Allegedly, Dr. Stan Reminiski, formerly of the University of Minnesota, invented a state-of-the-art water purification system in the same timeframe that could capture heavy metals from various industries that were polluting our rivers. His system used some type of magnetism or ionic bonding to “grab” these polluting metals, and far exceeded the requirements of the technology then in use; perhaps a million times more effective. Yet, his labor of love was denied even as an experiment on the Mississippi River because environmental officials could not tick the box that it had a filter to change!?!

How many innovations and revelations, Eternal Father, have You given us through bright humans like Dr. Reminiski that have been blocked from better preserving Your lands and waters? Will You forgive us where our environmental protectors act as simpletons who only follow orders, and as the corruptible officials who are seduced by temporal power and or other types of gains? Will You build a heart and awareness of true compliance, and a humility in our expressions of environmental law such as the Pollution Control Agency? Will You forgive us where we have despoiled Your land, waters, and atmosphere for gain?

As a final point, we ponder the achievement of streamlining regional development through the creation of the Metropolitan Council. We see the same undercurrent of thought in Governor Harold’s push for this over-arching planning body; how can we better harness the energy of various counties to achieve a common goal such as public transit? Or to use his words more exactly, then-Governor LeVander said the Council “was conceived with the idea that we will be faced with more and more problems that will pay no heed to the boundary lines which mark the end of one community in this metropolitan area and the beginning of another.” ******

Eternal One, my point here is not to belittle the accomplishments of this organization, but to wrestle with some of the limitations of its organizational theory. For the sake of my argument, this body’s authority encompasses 188 communities, 22 special purpose districts, and 7 counties with a current 2021 budget of $1.164 billion. ***** If this cost were evenly spread across these cities and townships, it would be a price tag of $6,191,489.36 each. This appear to be a significant price tag for planning, not executing, the various developmental projects. To compound this cost, this body is able to override the will of local governments. Lord, I am probably making this too simplistic, but isn’t that a big ask?

In simple terms, if I asked my kids to pay me a fee to plan their future, and then also told them that I could override their dissent; would they see me as an “aid” to their growth? How can the member-communities maintain motivation to participate with this body, when there is an atmosphere of “voluntary compliance”? Does not this mandate created in 1967, supersede the roles defined by our State Constitution? Where is the accountability in this authority? What are the checks and balances that govern the Metropolitan Council?

Granted, I am only scratching the surface in this plea, and my knowledge is very limited. I simply wish to acknowledge to You this conundrum of compliance. In Ephesians 5:21, you ask us to “submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.” Yet how does one submit to a friend that won’t? Doesn’t this set us up for a co-dependent and unhealthy relationship? Dear G-d, how was this basic aspect overlooked by such brilliant minds 53 years ago? Will You remove this bitter root sown in 1967? Will You create a new way of planning that does not negate the will of the beneficiaries in the 7 county metro area? Will You take this weight; up, out, and onto the Cross of Christ?

In sum, Governor Le Vander brought marked changes that are still with us in Minnesota. No one, however brilliant and wise, can forsee all the potential strengths and weaknesses of their actions. To his credit, he surely did make the levers of government work more efficiently. Yet, one is left with a new awareness of why righteousness and humility are virtues so reinforced in Your kingdom; even a good system is as good as the hearts and wisdom of those who operate it. May we forever plan, build, move, create, honor the lowly, respect Your nature under Your authority. May we walk out our new laws and new paths with grace and truth. May we forever love the law like governor Le Vander, but remain cognizant that we are all lawbreakers in need the mercy of Our Father and our neighbor! Amen!

LeVander, Harold. “What I Remember Most.” Minneapolis Tribune Picture Magazine. January 1, 1967. Print.
** Roberts, Chad. Internet. July 29, 2011. https://patch.com/minnesota/mendotaheights/dakota-county-history-101-harold-levander-1910-1992-g99bcd2ad36
*** Minnesota Historical Society. Internet. “Harold P. LeVander Biography” https://mnhs.gitlab.io/archive/governors-of-minnesota-collections/collections.mnhs.org/governors/index.php/10004227.html
**** https://mn.gov/mdhr/
https://www.pca.state.mn.us/about
***** https://metrocouncil.org/About-Us/Who-We-Are.aspx
****** https://metrocouncil.org/About-Us/Publications-And-Resources/History-of-the-Council.aspx

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20th Century, Environment, History

Wilderness Act of 1964 establishes the Boundary Waters Canoe Area

Looking back at what led to the 1978 BWCA Wilderness Act. virginiamn.com

1964
The Boundary Waters Canoe Area, named in 1958, gains new protections in the federal Wilderness Act. Amid conflict between recreationists and conservationists, more than one million acres of forests, lakes, and rivers are set aside as a federally managed wilderness. *

In 1909, a vast wilderness some 150 miles long and 1.2 million deep of forest
straddled the border of Minnesota and Ontario. President Theodore Roosevelt had just claimed it as the Superior National Forest and Superior Game Refuge which removed it from grasp of developers; usually logging or mining interests. By 1938, this area’s moniker became the Superior Roadless and Primitive Area which mostly meant that boats, trucks, snowmobiles, planes and permanent roads were curtailed. Within twenty more years in 1958, the United States Forest Service officially renamed and repurposed the Superior Roadless Area to the even more pristine Boundary Waters Canoe Area. It would take another 6 years for this new area to be codified and defined by Federal law was wilderness.

Over half a century ago, our Federal government saw the pressure placed on public lands through economic development and population growth and sounded the alarm. What shall we do to protect areas from commoditization, and foster nature to remain wild? According to the United States Department of Justice:

“Congress passed the 1964 Wilderness Act in order to preserve and protect certain lands “in their natural condition” and thus “secure for present and future generations the benefits of wilderness.” 11 U.S.C. § 1131(a).” **

So, what are the tangible ramifications of these two generations of preservation?
For starters, it contains “the largest contiguous areas of uncut forest remaining in the eastern United States.” **** Additionally, the area boasts 1170 lakes, about 1200 miles of canoe routes, and approximately 2000 specified campsites. About 160,000 visitors interact with this wilderness each year. *****

Now we turn to You, Lord of the Lakes, and meditate with You. What do You wish to underscore about the Wilderness Act and the Boundary Waters Canoe Area? Can we watch this era in history with You?

As a first reflection, we establish this baseline truth from King David; “The earth is the LORD’s, and the fullness thereof, the world and all who dwell therein.” Psalm 24:1 This establishes You as the Sovereign of this planet, and all living things within it including humankind. What does that mean in this context, Sovereign One?

Though some of our peoples may have acknowledged You as the first holder of the deed, our state already had established laws surrounding property rights and obligations. We see the Superior National Forest, motivated at the Federal rather than the local level, removed from Minnesota and Minnesotans their rights to development and the use of its primary commodities: mining, timber, and water. The next circle drawn around this property established it as a Primitive Area; but granted that its neighbors and inhabitants could use basic machinery and vehicles for transportation and safety.
We see the BWCA/Wilderness Act as a third redefinition of this property which disallows even humble outboard motors and snowmobiles.

So we see this source of agreement and conflict in 1964; users agreed that setting aside this land is wisdom, but disagreed strongly on what wilderness looked like. To illustrate, imagine that your family lived remotely on one of these lakes. It is likely, almost a given, that your family loves solitude and nature because that is where you have chosen to live. How is your safety affected, should an injury occur, if one cannot use an outboard motor? Should your child bleed out from an axe wound because canoeists are irritated by waves and even the noise of a motor? Shall original homesteaders be refused the use of a snowmobile and cargo sled to bring staples from town because it breaks the silence of the forest?

We confess these three rungs of conflict and judgment to You today in the finalization of the Wilderness Act of 1964 and the establishment of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area, dear Father.
We have judged each others ability to utilize the land You have stewarded to this generation. In doing so, have we dismissed and judged Your intentions for this land?
We have judged each others heart in the second rung of preservation, though agreed in intent, and greatly curtailed the access to these lands by roads. In doing so, did we judge Your Children whose physical limitations do not allow them to hike or canoe from enjoying this property?
We have disagreed strongly over the limited use of an outboard motor or snowmobile in winter on this specific geography. In so doing, did we offend You? Did we deny our brothers and sisters a modicum of connectivity and safety for the sake of pristine silence for hikers and canoeists?

We are ashamed of the irony before You; we created a primitive area, but deny those most reliant on this land for survival their primal rights. Surely, these accrued offenses were not what Howard Zahniser had in mind when he wrote the Wilderness Act of 1964! We agreed to set aside this land, but have so little empathy set aside for those who oppose us internally. Will You heal these bitter roots that have and still embroil us in conflict over our National and State Parks? Will You lift these judgments up, out, and onto the Cross of Christ? Come and heal our past, free our present, and bless our futures to align with the land use intended in Your Economy and Dominion. Amen.

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20th Century, Americana, Art, authors, Boys, Culture, Entertainment, Faith, football, Girls, History, Humor, Intercession, Judgment & Counter-Judgment Cycle, justice, Life, Minnesota, omnipresent history, Prayer, Uncategorized

Charles M. Schulz and Charlie Brown

Courtesy Charles M. Schulz Museum. “The New Yorker” October 22, 2007

1950

“St. Paul cartoonist Charles M. Schulz’s “Peanuts” appears in papers and soon becomes the most popular comic strip in the United States. Clearly drawn from the “Li’l Folks” cartoons he penned for the St. Paul Pioneer Press between 1947 and 1950, Charlie Brown and company eventually take their adventures to books and television specials.” * 

Commencing on October 2, 1950 this comic strip’s first publishing marked the fulfillment of thirteen years of effort. Schulz endured and yet thrived through many challenges in this span. What can we learn about his life previous to this time that enabled him to create, perhaps, the greatest and most ubiquitous cartoon of all time?

Citing a few facts from the Charles M. Schulz Museum’s website, we find some insights. ***

1940- He decides to take correspondence courses from Federal Schools based on their emphasis on cartooning.

1942- At age 20, he is drafted into the United States Army and serves in World War II. (He observed later in his life that “The army taught me all I needed to know about loneliness.”)

1943- His mother, Dena, dies of cervical cancer shortly after his induction to the service.

1945- From February through July 1945, he served in Germany.

1946-1947- He lived with his dad above a barbershop in St. Paul, Minnesota, and gained employment through his former art school, now known as Art Instruction Schools, Inc. He corrected students’ work for the cartooning division of the school, and developed his tastes and talents as to what kind of work he most wanted to produce.

1947-1950- Charles scores his first round of success publishing work for magazines: ‘Collier’s’ and ‘The Saturday Evening Post’, and for newspapers in the ‘Minneapolis Tribune’, and the ‘Saint Paul Pioneer Press’.

Now we pivot to You; the Master Illustrator and Storyteller of the Universe. We remember the Messiah’s ability and use of parables to convey in emotional pictures the deep things of our hearts. Dear Holy Spirit, how we need You today, as everyday, to come and bring revelation. Will You let us erase strife and remember the eternal joys You hold out to us right now? What do You want to say about the everyday heroism of Mr. Schulz, and his beloved storytelling through the characters of “Peanuts”?

As we reflect on this chapter of history with You, we look for a root motive from its author. The main character of Peanuts is an ordinary boy, Charlie Brown, who never stops trying to succeed, but is often hampered with failure and humiliations. His observations about life range from the humorous to the serious. His nature is just like ours; simultaneously plagued with self-doubt and yet unquenchable hope that one day he will be victorious. Let’s go to the mind of the author and see what he had to say about, perhaps, the most beloved and known character of a story of the entire 20th century?

“Charlie Brown has to be the one who suffers, because he is a caricature of the average person. Most of us are much more acquainted with losing than we are with winning.” Charles Schulz **

An omnipresent symbol for generations of readers is summed up in his interactions with Lucy playing football; she holds the ball, he does a tremendous run up for the kick, and at the last second, she pulls the ball away, and he goes flying landing flat on his back. Yet, he never gives up on the notion of making a huge kick-off. 

(Allow us an aside to pray this point, Sovereign Lord? Will You forgive the ways we have broken faith in You, ourselves, and others as children? Will You search our root arrogance and character deformations made in our childhood vows? Will You forever make Minnesota a place where the innocent beliefs and hopes of children are returned by their peers and communities? Will You make adults more visible and present in the lives of our future generations?)

Additionally, we see Charlie Brown living in a world of children and their pets. Adults, to my recollection, are never visible. “Peanuts” pulls back the curtain on the lives of his neighborhood kids, and demonstrates that even the very young have strong temperaments and unique character to their personalities. Maybe, this is part of what makes this story stand apart from legions of its competitors; even the small universe of a community or ordinary neighborhood is still a microcosm of our future?

So, we bring You adoration for Charles M. Schulz and the world of “Peanuts”. We thank You that he overcame so many times in the decade before his first publications and successes. He lost his mother, and yet dutifully went to the war. He, subsequently, lost his home, yet adapted to living with his father above a barbershop. He stoked the fires of his dream with commitment to his craft and desire for more for a decade. He shared what he learned with others. He believed in the characters of Peanuts, and we were blessed by his insights into their very small but exceedingly important world(s). 

As Minnesotans, we thank You for the fun and “5 cent Psychology” stand lessons of Peanuts! We thank You for a man who, like Charlie Brown, never broke faith on his dream to tell an Odyssey-sized story four cartoon panels at a time. Will You bless our artists, observers, and story-tellers to have the persistence of Schulz? One day, they will win, they will have a glorious kick-off because You are holding the football!

“1At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Who then is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?”

2Jesus invited a little child to stand among them. 3“Truly I tell you,” He said, “unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. 4Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. 5And whoever welcomes a little child like this in My name welcomes Me.” ***** Matthew 18:1-5 BSB

* 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!

** Schulz, Charles M. “Peanuts Jubilee”. 1976. Penguin.

*** https://schulzmuseum.org/timeline/#!/1940

*** More things to do from the official page. https://www.peanuts.com

**** See some fun pictures of Schulz and “Lil Folks” and support a 10 year old blogger to boot! https://lainie10.wordpress.com/2013/10/05/the-wonderful-world-of-peanuts/

***** https://biblehub.com/bsb/matthew/18.html

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20th Century, Faith, Governors, History, Minnesota, omnipresent history, Politics, Republican, State Government

Eberhart Becomes Governor 1909

Unknown

September 21, 1909

“Adolph Olson Eberhart takes office as the state’s 17th governor upon the death of Governor John A. Johnson. Eberhart was subsequently elected twice on his own merits.” *

It’s a timeless challenge to any society, during any period in human history, to change their leaders and maintain a continuity of authority. When a sibling stands in for mom or dad, they usually aren’t received with the same respect. The same goes for an anonymous lieutenant governor, Eberhart, suddenly thrust into prominence.

Events like these seem to underscore the importance of relationship and authority. We give our allegiance more easily to those whom we know. It seems a logical and reasonable unwritten precept of our survival instincts. We gain trust through consistent and positive relational knowledge of our neighbor.

I thank You that Governor Eberhart was up to the task. I don’t know the details of how he won the populace of Minnesota over, but it is recorded that he did. And he repeated his success twice.** Perhaps it was his consistent work ethic and and stalwart service to his constituents.

Author of authority, thank You for Eberhart’s continuity. Will You bless those who stand in a gap such as him? Will You bless those leaders who are challenged at every step, but simply follow the plan? Thank You for leaders who are not subject to reward, recognition, or favor-seeking. Bless those who lead because it is their nature!

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

**https://www.nga.org/cms/home/governors/past-governors-bios/page_minnesota/col2-content/main-content-list/title_eberhart_adolph.html

 

 

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19th Century, Health, History, Intercession, Minnesota, omnipresent history

Mayo Clinic 1883

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1883

“Dr. William W. Mayo takes his sons into his practice. Dr. Will and Dr. Charlie eventually specialize in surgery and build the world-famous Mayo Clinic in Rochester.” *

Gracious One, thank you that you inspire all medicine and healing! Thank you for innovators’ like the Mayo brothers, and their foresight to build their clinic! Thank you for their legacy of working to save the physical man and the physical woman! Thank you for the blessing Mayo Clinic has been, is, and will be to this state.

Jesus, bless the Mayo Clinic, their family, all employees and all properties their generations, homes, ideas, contributions in your authority. Cover the debts of the clinic with the currency of your blood. May all who will receive it, your life, also know that their Messiah has literal power to save the body, mind, and spirit of humankind! I cringe when I think of how many lives are lost due to our separation from You! How much health is squandered in conflict with friends, spouses?! 

Lord, I ask that You build a clinic for the spirit of man in Rochester! Will you bless us with ‘chesed’ as well as the healing of the human body? Will you inspire a place of intercession for the right relationships of men, women, boys, and girls? May your body, the Church, be restored to humbly ask and receive Your miraculous healing in body, mind, and spirit? Will You demonstrate your power to save in our State of Minnesota?

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

**http://history.mayoclinic.org

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19th Century, Art, Culture, History, Intercession, Minnesota, music, women

Schubert Club Formed 1882

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Marion Ramsey

Forty St. Paul Women form the Schubert Club (named for the Austrian composer) “to give concerts and teach people about the joys of music.”*

What a gift You have given this state in the joys of music! Thank You for the diligence of these women, and their heart to bless others! May we excel in our hearts first, the mastery of instruments second, and the expressions of the stories You place within third!

See what’s happened in the past 134 years? https://schubert.org

Learn about its namesake? https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Franz_Schubert

*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!

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19th Century, Agriculture, farming, Food, History, Intercession, Minnesota, Natural Disaster, omnipresent history, Science

Rust Plagues Crops 1878

unknown

1878

“Rust, a parasite growing on barberry bushes brought west by settlers, severely damages wheat crops. Later epidemics of wheat rust lead to the outlawing of barberry bushes in 1918.

Epidemics occur again in 1904 and 1916 before the state outlaws the culprit carriers. The problem is eradicated over the next decades through the efforts of “Barberry Bees,” organized to dig up bushes, “Rust Busters Clubs” in schools, and bounties paid for reporting barberry in the 1940s.” *

Some days it is burdensome to read chapters of history like the Rust Plague. It feels like human perception of reality, myself included of course, is a one-trick pony. We fail over and over to see cause and effect relationships though surrounded with personal and practical examples.
When confronted with the tragic, we react with externalizing our pain. “It must be someone else’s fault that I have this problem”, we say to ourselves. Moreover, You are a convenient target for our misuse or overuse of natural resources.
Creator of All Nature, this is the ray of light I see in this Rust Plague; eventually the curious among us found a relationship. We found that transporting plants, namely berberis vulgaris, from their origins resulted in creating an undesired effect when they reached our desired destinations.** We loved progress, but lacked the knowledge and wisdom to enact it in this case.

Lord, was there something to this parasite outbreak other than nature? I believe that You are far more merciful to us than our sins deserve, but simultaneously maintain justice and enact wise judgments. You remain in perfect balance; neither favoring grace or truth. Our separation from You and our fellow man has its consequences. I can think of several events that happened in this time frame that caused massive unrest:
the creation of the Federal Reserve -1913
the negation of the Nicaragua Canal
the first foray into US nation-building that created the nation of Panama
the opening of the Panama Canal – 1914
sinking of the Lusitania – May 7, 1915
Poncho Villa raids US – 1916
President Wilson commits our troops to WWI, in spite of his campaign promise; “He kept us out of the war.” – 1917
Wilson “14 Point of Peace” – 1918
and extensive upheavals between labor and the industrialists.
Lord Jesus, will You enter into this chapter of our history again? Will You, by Your kind Holy Spirit, point out offenses that we may have made towards You? Did we curse the ground, or more specifically the wheat crops of Minnesota? Were You just maturing us to trust You in difficult times? Was a disease necessary to place nature in proper balance?

Jesus, please forgive us any root judgments that contributed to the rust epidemic. Will You heal our land and our hearts, to receive You where our ancestors may have missed You? Will You make us capable of self-examination, observant of our surroundings, and shield us from the temptation to only look for external targets of our wrath and blame rather than responsibility, reason, and relationship?

*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.ars.usda.gov/midwest-area/st-paul-mn/cereal-disease-lab/docs/barberry/barberry-situation-past-present-future/

 

 

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19th Century, education, Governors, History, Intercession, Minnesota, Natural Disaster, Social Studies, State Government

Pillsbury Becomes Governor

george_alfred_pillsbury

 

January 7, 1876 to January 10, 1882

“John S. Pillsbury became the state’s 8th governor. As Minnesota’s eighth governor, Pillsbury was a practical and compassionate administrator, finally resolving a sensitive railroad bond issue and increasing aid to those ravaged by the grasshopper plague. He also encouraged legislators to create the office of public examiner to detect and purge corruption in public office.” * 

Lord, thanks that You have chosen to spread Your gifts out among us so we are aware of our need for each other! Thanks for John S. Pillsbury and the benefits of his governorship.  It appears that he was skilled in mediation and negotiation. Will You forgive the bitter roots that come from even his best negotiations? 

Will You again kindly watch between the railroad interests, ( or any major future economic power), and the people and Minnesota? Will You forgive  us when we expect the State to rescue us, and do not see the provision that You have for us? Will You sanctify the suffering caused by: the grasshopper plague, the corruption of the government, and the dominance of the railroads? Forgive us our flippant and well-forged assessments as we forgive our assessors!

 

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19th Century, Catholic, Christian, education, Faith, History, Immigration, Intercession, Jesus, justice, Minnesota, Prayer

Catholic Colonization Bureau 1876

170px-bishop_john_ireland_of_minnesota_as_a_young_man

1876

“Bishop John Ireland forms the Catholic Colonization Bureau to attract Catholics, particularly from Ireland, to Minnesota. A railroad provides land, and by 1885, four thousand German, Irish, and Belgian Catholic families are living in southwestern and west-central Minnesota. 

The towns of De Graff and Clontarf in Swift County; Adrian in Nobles County; Avoca, Iona, and Fulda in Murray County; Graceville in Big Stone County; and Minneota and Ghent in Lyon County become the business centers for the bishop’s colonies.” * 

Holy Spirit, thanks for Bishop John! Thanks for his help assisting so many to find a new way here in Minnesota! Thank You for friends like Bishop Ireland that keep offering us relief and making a way of exodus where it appears that there is no way. Will You again bless these counties: Swift, Nobles, Murray, Big Stone, Lyon, and Ramsey? 

Lord, will You forgive us our bitter ways towards You and each other based on State  and Federal law; legal and illegal immigration? Will You cause Your Church to bless Your image within each other in this effort; Catholic, Protestant, and Orthodox? Our experience helps us see differing needs of those who migrate. Forgive us our favoritism, lawlessness, and placing unnecessary barriers in front of those who seek a safe haven and a bit of Your freedom here. Please forgive us this offense against You and Your Image within our neighbor!

Will You give favor to these Catholic generations of Bishop Ireland, in their homes, the property You allow them to reside, and in the practice of their love for You? We need You! May we see You in all who emigrate their beloved homelands to immigrate to our Land of 10,000 Lakes in good faith! Come Lord Jesus and be our guest in the state of Minnesota!

 

 

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