Monday, August 13, 2012

Adventures in Learning

We took a hike in the woods today.  Well, that's what it ended up being although that wasn't necessarily our intent. 

We've been looking to acquire a little acreage out in the country where we might be able to run a few cows.  So far, we haven't been able to find the right place or the right deal or something.  I guess it amounts to an exercise in patience.  Eventually we will find the right place.

Anyway, we went out to check out a property listed for sale that we had driven by a few times.  It's one that I have kept coming back to as other properties fell through.  I wanted a serious look and so I got the combination for the lock box from our realtor and this evening we went out to look it over.

It is grown up in weeds and brush and although it is being leased for grazing we were only able to find a handful of cattle on the place.  We drove a short distance into the property following the faint trace of a road that once was.  It wasn't even as clear as the cattle trails but it got us about 100 yards into the place before we decided that we would just walk.

My goal was to get a feel for the boundaries of the property -- how it lay and what the grass looked like.  I knew that there were a number of shallow watercourses that crossed the land because they were choked with trees and brush.  Interspersed between are areas that were once pasture but are now grown up in weeds and brush.

We hiked toward the back of the place looking for the back fence.  And we kept hiking.  And we hiked some more.  No fence.  We both felt sure we were beyond the boundary of the place when we came upon a road through the pasture so we followed it a ways.  Sure enough, it led to the neighbor's house on the place behind.  Well, sort of. 

He came out to meet us in his pasture and said he figured we must be lost.  Seemed like a nice guy and was very helpful when I explained what we were doing.  He kind of laughed and said, "You won't find many fences in the woods of East Texas -- at least not ones where the wires are up on posts and that will keep the livestock in.  You gotta look at the ground to find any fences around here.  They've all fallen down years ago."

He went on to explain that the dry creek we crossed actually belonged to the state and was considered navigable waters....remember, I said it was dry.  Then we had crossed another small tract that was landlocked and he didn't know who owned it.  It was probably claimed by the county for failure to pay taxes.  Then we had come across a portion of his land.  Not a single fence.

It's no wonder we didn't see many cows.  They are probably scattered over half the county.  I think the place would be a great project but, it would take more investment to get it into shape than I'm willing to put into it.  I guess we'll keep looking.


Sunday, August 12, 2012

Two Cases of Misguided Response

Over the past few weeks there have been a couple of things in the news that actually got my attention.  I know that seems like a strange thing to say, but the truth of the matter is that I have grown somewhat immune to the news.  It is almost formulaic and highly predictable.

Two events however, have stood out to me recently.  The first was what I will call the "Chick-Fil-A Debacle" and the second was the naming of Paul Ryan as running mate for Mitt Romney.

The "Chick-Fil-A Debacle" was actually about freedom of speech.  However, it turned into a Christians bashing Gays vs. Gays bashing Christians and the media piling on.  I was actually gratified to see the support given to Chick-Fil-A in the form of a day to eat there.  I was disappointed that it became a Gay vs. Christian event.

The choice of Paul Ryan as running mate for Romney is interesting to me for a similar reason.  Ryan is seen by many as representing the values which are closely identified with the Tea Party movement.  Tea Party is really a misnomer because it isn't actually a political party, but it is a movement of people with similar values which are closely aligned with what many deem are Christian values.

This morning at church it was mentioned by someone who will remain unnamed that we Christians must stand up and confront the non-Christian values being pushed upon this Christian nation.  I have several problems with that.  1)  We are not a Christian nation.  Only an individual can be Christian.  Christianity is a relationship between the individual and God through the mediation of Jesus.  2)  Confrontation is not the answer.  How can the love of Jesus be shared through confrontation?  3)  Non-Christian values are pushed by non-Christians.  If you are a Christian and reading this, pay close attention;  you cannot expect non-Christians to have Christian values. 

So, how does the preceding paragraph align with the two newsworthy events?  I think the first one should be obvious.  The owner of Chick-Fil-A exercised his first amendment right in answering a straightforward question that was likely meant to entrap him for political reasons.  He answered the question just as he should -- according to his deeply held beliefs.  The problem lies in the Christian response.  If it was solidarity over the exercise of freedom of speech, it was a correct response.  If it was solidarity in opposition to homosexuality it was misguided.  Homosexuality is condemned by the Bible.  If you profess to be Christian it should have no part in your life -- just as you should seek to eliminate all other sin from your life.  The fact is that as long as we live on this earth, sin of some form or another will be part of our daily life.

Now, to the selection of Paul Ryan.  I think he is probably the best candidate in the field for the highest office in the land.  But, why was he selected and why is he a polarizing candidate?  I think he was selected because Romney needed to appeal to the Christian right and those non-Christians who identify with the Tea Party movement.  Evangelical Christians do not see Mormons as Christians.  I agree with that position.  Many Christians see Paul Ryan as one who will confront the anti-Christian agenda in Washington.  Again, it is a position of Christians confronting non-Christians.

Now, I ask the much abused question, "What would Jesus do?"

I think Jesus would tell us to do exactly what He told us to do over 2,000 years ago. 

Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in[a] the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” __ Matthew 28:18-20