Christmas Break...

Dear Friends & Fellow Agrarians,

Every so often, I need to take a break from blogging. It isn't that I get tired of writing here. On the contrary, if I had the time, I would write here even more!

But, for a few weeks, I need to focus on some other projects.

Let's meet back here on New Year's Day, 2007. It's only about three weeks away.

Have a Merry Christmas.

Herrick Kimball

ACRES of Hope America: A Christian Agrarian Ministry

A couple blogs back, I wrote about The Elder Agrarian: C.F. Marley. It was Mr. Marley who introduced me to the National Catholic Rural Life Conference, an organization devoted to encouraging rural family life and sustainable stewardship of the land. I asked the question: ”Can someone tell me of a comparable Protestant organization?” Well, someone did.

When I got home from work this afternoon there was a phone message for me from Barry Morgan who told me about a ministry called Acres of Hope America. Please go to the web site now and see what it is about. You will notice the site is under construction. That’s because Acres of Hope America is a fledgling ministry. But it is, I believe, a ministry with a God-inspired calling.

I say that because this evening I spoke with Mr. Morgan. He and his wife, Lynne, have, after much prayer, started the Acres of Hope America ministry, and Barry is currently working at it full time. My impression of Mr. Morgan is that he is a sincere and capable man with a Christian agrarian vision for localized rural renewal, that he has a lot of practical ideas to help make such renewal a reality, and, most importantly, I sense that the Lord is going to bless this unique ministry.

Fact is, after talking to Mr. Morgan, I’m downright excited about this non-denominational but solidly Christian-agrarian ministry, and I hope to be giving you more details about it in the future.

Starting a National Christian Agrarian Association

Every so often someone will bring up the idea of starting something akin to a National Christian Agrarian Association. It is a well-intentioned idea that I’ve given much consideration to and I’d like take this opportunity to publicly state my thoughts on the matter.

Let me say that the idea of a large Christian-agrarian gathering was discussed at one time and I was asked if I would be willing to be a speaker. And, as I’ve mentioned, I have also heard of the idea of starting some sort of official Christian agrarian organization.

I am not against such a gathering, or such an organization, but I would not support them. My reason for saying that is that I see the Christian agrarian movement as a movement of the Lord in individual hearts. I believe He is leading individual families back to agrarian life and culture. I am not convinced that it would serve any truly constructive purpose to establish a large-scale Christian-agrarian club or fraternity-like organization. Would it draw media attention to the movement and expand our ranks? Well, I’m sure it would, but I’m not convinced that is a proper thing for any of us to be doing

Personally, I do not want to travel the country and speak, as has been suggested to me that I could do. I want to stay home, to be with my family, to work around my little homestead. I want to, God willing, buy some land someday and establish family-centered agrarian enterprises. Yes, traveling and speaking and such would help me spread the Christian agrarian message, and sell more of my books, and that would help me to earn enough to buy the land, etc., etc. But I don’t want to compromise, or significantly alter the agrarian life I enjoy in order achieve my family vision. It smacks of hypocrisy and any Christian agrarian worth his salt would see right through it.

Beyond building a membership and establishing some sort of political voice, I wonder what the practical purpose of a National Christian Agrarian Association would be? Would it be to encourage and inspire others in their Christian agrarian journey? If so, I see that being achieved right now (right here, even!) in an agrarian, decentralist, manner by individuals and families who are, from the comfort of their homesteads and farms, blogging, writing books, publishing periodicals, making movies, recording interviews, and teaching classes. They are doing this as the Lord leads them and they are having an impact.

And if we need hats or t-shirts or bumper stickers to identify our Christian agrarian inclinations, some home-based Christian family enterprise can provide those too!

As for effecting political change, that can be done by home-based internet activists too. The grassroots internet-based resistance to NAIS is an example of that.

No, I do not see the need for any manmade Christian Agrarian Organization. Let’s live simply while prayerfully focusing on the work of home, church, community, family enterprise, and local ministry, all the while watching as the Lord orchestrates this Christian Agrarian movement for His good purposes.

~~~~~~~~~~

P.S. My thinking on this matter does not extend to small scale, Christian-agrarian ministries which would serve to establish sustainable, localized, rural renewal and help support rural family life. Ministries like ACRES of Hope America which I'll tell you about in my next blog entry.

Flee to the Fields

I see that Rick Saenz has already written about the book, Flee to The Fields: The Founding Papers of the Catholic Land Movement over at his blog, Dry Creek Chronicles. So I suggest you go there (click the appropriate link on the right side of this page) and read what he has to say.

For my part, I will provide you with a few excerpts from the new introduction of the recently reprinted version of the book....

“The industrial regime, as Hilaire Belloc noted in the original preface to this book, has but one goal, and that is the accumulation of material wealth. To the orthodox Catholic, this all-consuming desire wrought terrible social consequences. Industrialism centralized production and thereby created a monopolistic economy under which millions of people had been forced (or seduced) from farm and village, to take up a barrack-like existence in burgeoning cities. The loss of property subsequently reduced most Englishmen to a state of economic servility, in which they were wholly dependent on industry for survival. Likewise, this impoverished proletariat could be easily manipulated through elaborate social programs enacted by a government that was firmly under the control of the new industrial ruling class. But perhaps the most troubling consequence of industrialization was that it created conditions under which a healthy religious culture could no longer flourish. For, by severing human beings from family, community, and nature, industrialization had effectively dissolved the primordial bonds that made religion tangible, and hence believable.”

~~~~~

“In countering industrialism, the Catholic Land Movement did not attempt to create an agrarian utopia, nor was it a Luddite rejection of technology. Rather, it was a prudent approach to economic life that was based on small-scale agriculture, craft-making, and retailing.”

~~~~~

Thus, by relying on the household, family, community, and nature’s bounty to provide as many basic needs as possible, people could free themselves from economic dependence and the political control of the plutocrats, and thereby regain a modicum of human dignity and freedom.”

~~~~~

“It was this desire to sustain an agrarian Christian culture against that of industrialism, rather than a desire to return all of society to some mythical agrarian past, that was the essential social vision of the leaders of the Catholic Land Movement.”

~~~~~

“By reclaiming the household as the center of economic life, and by relying on thrift, physical labor, and frugality, all Christians are capable of battling the corrosive effects of industrialization. In pursuing such a philosophy the long-term goal of a more humane and decentralized economy can be realized. For it is only when economics again becomes subservient to religious mores that the virtuous life is possible.”

~~~~~

I have yet to really dig into this book. When I do, perhaps I will post some more quotes. If you would like a copy of the book, check out www.ihspress.com

C. F. Marley: The Elder Agrarian

A few months ago I got a phone call from a guy by the name of C. F. Marley in Nokomis,Illinois. Mr. Marley had heard about my Whizbang Chicken Plucker and wanted to know more. It so happens that C.F. is an agricultural writer. That in itself was kind of interesting to me, but I soon discovered many more interesting things about Mr. Marley.

We had not spoken long when C.F. informed me that he was a Christian agrarian. That was something of a surprise because there are not many of us around. He told me he is a Catholic Christian agrarian, and that he had been one for a long time. I found out later that C.F. Marley is 85 years old.

When C.F. asked me if I had ever heard of a book by the name, The New Agrarian Mind, by Allan Carlson, I was even more surprised. I told him it was in my bookcase and I consider it an excellent book.

I sent C.F. a copy of my Whizbang Plucker plan book and my Chicken Scalder book, and I included a copy of my Christian-agrarian memoir/manifesto, Writings of a Deliberate Agrarian. In return, C.F. sent me some information about the National Catholic Rural Life Conference. It turns out that, years ago, he edited NCRLC publications and was a board member.

I discovered the NCRLC is an organization that supports and encourages rural family life and sustainable stewardship of the land. Their work is, of course, centered around the Catholic Christian worldview.

The NCRLC web site says its mission to “support and empower rural people is made more necessary by globalization and world environmental issues.” It is clearly a Christian agrarian organization, and it has been around since 1923!

Now, I have to say that it looks to me like the NCRLC has a handle on something very important. I suppose I shouldn’t say that, being a Protestant, but it’s true, so I did say it. Can someone tell me of a comparable Protestant organization? We Protestants are often so heavenly-minded (or so we like to think) that we are no earthly good. I suppose I shouldn’t say that either. But if the shoe fits….

Anyway, Mr. Marley wrote me and said that a rural Iowan priest, Luigi Ligutti, “is the man who pulled me into this whole thing.” I knew Ligutti’s name from Allan Carlson’s book. There is a whole chapter devoted to him and what he did to advance the agrarian movement starting back in the 1930s.

But, to tell you the truth, I barely read that particular chapter. After all, I’m a Protestant. I don’t believe in transubstantiation. What could I possibly learn by reading Catholic thoughts about agrarianism? Really, that’s what I thought. And by thinking that, I shut myself off from a lot of very good agrarian writings that I’m just starting to discover. This doesn’t mean I’m going to become Catholic. It simply means that, believe it or not, some of those Catholic writers have a very good insight into the social problems that arose out of the Industrial Revolution. Problems that have only gotten worse. Problems that Christian agrarianism, Protestant and Catholic, can provide solutions for. Now there I go again, saying things that, as a firmly-grounded Protestant, I probably shouldn’t.

C.F. photocopied and sent me a couple pages from Ligutti’s 1940 book, Rural Roads to Security. He recommended that I read the book, and I will

Being a Christian agrarian and agricultural writer, C.F. saw and objected to the changes that were coming into traditional family farming back in the 1950s. It started with the introduction of factory broiler and egg systems. Then factory hog production. Marley warned that factory farming (the industrialization of agriculture) would lead to the ruin of small family farms and rural culture. That would, I suppose, make him something of a prophet.

C.F. also relayed to me that he had serious concerns about the shift towards regional government, something he learned about in the mid 1960s. A consortium made up of people from the largest corporations in America, operating under the name, “Committee For Economic Development,” called for merging local governments out of existence and substituting regional government run by “specialists.”

I became aware of the plan and threat of regionalism back in the 1980s when I joined an organization called, The Committee to Restore the Constitution. Regionalism is nothing short of the industrialism of government and it has largely come to fruition. C.F. rightly saw the scheme as a threat to Constitutionally mandated checks and balances and separation of powers.

With that thought in mind, C.F. Marley, who is a decorated veteran of World War II, went into battle again, this time in the political arena. He ran for state office in 1970. His platform: 1) Guarantee autonomy for municipal townships and county governments. 2) Guarantee local control of property taxes. 3) Allow people of the state a direct vote in lawmaking (referendum). But Marley was a voice crying in the wilderness and not your typical political candidate. “People would not listen,” he says.

I guess not much has changed in that regard. As we “slouch towards Gomorrah” few people care about the erosion of the wise Republican form of government our forefathers gave us. As long as the television and GameBoy work, the cupboard is stocked with junk food, and there is “gas in their Ford,” most American families are comfortably amused and sedated.

I thank God there are people like C.F. Marley, who are not content to be passive while things like truth and individual liberty are trashed by those conniving interests who see such things as stumbling blocks to their selfish pursuits. It was people like C.F. Marley who made this country great, and it’s people like him who will preserve it, if it is to be preserved. Christian, patriot, populist, constitutionalist, agrarian, family man (seven children), and still writing with interest and passion at 85 years old, I feel inspired and honored to have met this elder agrarian.

A Reflective Ramble About Salvation & Prayer

When I was a kid my family rarely attended church. So when I ended up at Boy Scout camp one Sunday morning, I was presented with a dilemma... Should I go to the Protestant service or the Catholic service? I didn’t know the difference.

A couple of my friends asked me if I was Catholic or Protestant. When I told them I didn’t know, they said, “You’re Catholic. Come with us.” So I followed along and discovered that I was not Catholic.

Not long after that, I was watching a Billy Graham crusade on television. I listened to Billy Graham explain that, because of Adam’s sin, all men were sinners. He was talking to me. I knew I was a sinner and it became clear to me that, because of my sin, and because God is holy, I was separated from Him. That being the case, I was destined for hell.

Billy Graham explained that God provided a miraculous solution to the problem of sin by sending His son Jesus to Earth. He said that being good didn’t get a person to heaven, because none of us can meet God’s standards. By ourselves, by our own efforts, we don’t have a chance. But Jesus willingly gave His life when he was crucified on the cross and, in so doing, he took the penalty for our sins; he paid the price.

Mr. Graham explained that in order to be saved, I needed to admit I was a sinner and accept Jesus into my heart by praying a prayer, and that’s what I did. I think I was 13 years old.

Now, thirty-five years later, having grown considerably in my Christian faith, I wonder if I chose Jesus or did He choose me?

Clearly, what seemed so obvious, and simple, and true to me back then (and still today) does not come across the same to so many other people. That being the case, I believe that God, through His Holy Spirit, supernaturally opens individual hearts to the reality of who He is and what He has done, and in so doing, enables them to find the salvation He offers only through the shed blood of His beloved son.

I have had plenty of discussions with friends through the years who do not share my Christian faith. They reject it outright, or embrace a worldly view of Christianity—a Christianity in which Christ is not the focus. God is not holy to them. They do not respect His law. They do not know Jesus as their Lord.

No matter how well I point out the error of their pagan belief system, they cling to it. Theirs is a religion of doubt and unbelief. How can they not see the obvious? Because God has not revealed it to them. And why not? I don’t know why not. But I do have an idea why not.

In recent months I have been convicted more than ever that the most powerfully effective way to “lead someone to Christ” is through prayer on their behalf. In fact, it has occurred to me that it might be only through the prayers of other Christians that any unsaved person comes to a saving knowledge of Christ. Now that premise may not hold theological water, but it’s what I’ve been thinking, and it is something I have been keeping in mind as I pray for others.

I’ve also felt led, for the past few years, to pray more for people I don’t know. Specifically, for my future daughter-in-laws, whoever and wherever they are, that God would work in their hearts and draw them to Him, that He would prepare them to be godly wives and mothers to my grandchildren. And I pray regularly for those yet-to-be-seen (but so greatly looked forward to) grandchildren. On occasion, I’ll pray for the next generation too.

All of which leads me to wonder….. Who prayed for me? How have I come to a life-transforming knowledge and a close relationship with Christ while others in my family have not? How have I come to avoid so many of the heartaches of rebellion and sinful life choices while others I know have not? How is it that I went to a secular college and actually grew in my faith while other “Christian” kids around me turned away from Christ? It is a mystery. But I keep thinking that someone must have prayed for me, from an early age, perhaps before I was born, and those prayers are what made all the difference.

My grandmother Kimball and my maternal grandmother, Gertrude Philbrick, were women of faith. Did they pray for me? I’m sure they did.

My grandmother Kimball once gave me a small, worn, Gideon pocket Bible that belonged to her mother. I have only a brief recollection of my great grandmother, Kate Towle. But I have her little Gideon Bible and inside the cover, under where she wrote her name,is a place to write in “when you received Christ as your savior.” In the shaky handwriting of an older person she wrote: “Many years ago.” Perhaps my great grandmother prayed for me. I believe she must have.

There may have been others. Of course, my mother was praying for me later in life, after she experienced a spiritual renewal (she watched the Billy Graham crusade back then too). Perhaps there were more distant relatives or neighbors I never really knew who prayed for me, or even just someone who looked at me as a little boy somewhere and said a prayer for me. Have you ever done that? Prayed for a little child, even a little baby, a total stranger, for that child’s salvation, that spirits of sonship and adoption would work in the childs life to lead him or her to Christ, because God put it on your mind to do so?

If not, you really should. It may be among the most important things you ever do in your life. And that makes me think of something else….

As Christians we know that prayer is important, that we are called to prayer, that prayer changes things. But most modern Christians do not pray as they should, like they could, like they otherwise would, if they didn’t live a fast-paced, busy, busy, busy lifestyle. I am among them.

I could blame it on the Industrial Revolution. In fact, I will do just that… The Industrial Revolution changed it all—even down to the prayer life of God’s people

But that is no excuse.

I believe the agrarians of yore were more inclined to prayer because they lived and worked closer to the natural world, closer to creation, a creation that reveals the Creator in so many ways. Even something so simple, yet so remarkably beautiful as a summer sunset is a metaphor for Christ. The sun setting in a red sky: the sun is Jesus. The red sky signify’s his blood shed for sin. The darkness to follow signifys death. But then, in the morning, the Son rises bright. No wonder I feel like praising God when I stand in my garden and watch a summer sunset.The message of redemption and resurrection is "preached" by creation every day.

Well, today’s blog has ended up being a ramble. Believe it or not, I intended to tell you about a book I am reading titled, Flee to The Fields. It is about the Catholic Land Movement. I guess we can talk about that next time.

The Most Challenging
“It’s a Wonderful Life”
Trivia Quiz in The World

Dateline: December 2006
Updated: December 2011


In my previous blog entry I talked about the classic movie It’s a Wonderful Life. The movie is so endearing, and so many people have watched it so many times (people like me) that we have started to take note of the smallest details. Such details are trivial, but they are fun to notice and know.

With that in mind, I once saw a trivia quiz for It’s a Wonderful Life and it was supposed to be difficult but I found it way too easy. That made me think that I should put together my own “hardcore” trivia quiz for the movie, and that’s what I’ve done. I think it might be the hardest “It’s a Wonderful Life” Trivia Quiz in The World.

The answers to the following 57 questions (it’s a long trivia quiz too) are found in the movie. I do not ask questions like: Why is Mr. Potter in a wheelchair? (Answer: Because Lionell Barrymore, the actor who played him, was wheelchair bound in real life). And I won’t ask you: What actress who later starred in The Waltons television show had a small part in the movie? (Answer: Ellen Corby--a.k.a., Grandma Walton). So you need look no further than the movie itself for your answers.

This quiz is my gift to you.

Best wishes,

Herrick Kimball

~~~~~~~~~~

1. The movie takes place in a fictional town by the name of Bedford Falls. What state is Bedford Falls in?

2. An angle named Clarence is given the job of being George Bailey’s guardian angle. What is Clarence’s last name?

3. In one part of the movie Clarence is asked how old he is. After thinking about it, he says: “Two hundred and ninety three…. Next May.” What kind of work did Clarence do on earth before he became an angel?

4. Clarence is said by one of his heavenly superiors to have the I.Q. of what animal?

5. In the first scene of the movie we find a young George Bailey in 1919 snow sliding down a hill with his friends. What are the boys sliding on?

6. How old was George when the snow sliding scene takes place?

7. How old was George’s kid brother, Harry, in 1919?

8. George loses the hearing in one ear as a result of jumping in the ice cold water to save Harry. Which ear does he lose his hearing in?

9. Mr. Potter is the “richest and meanest man in the county.” What is Mr. Potter’s first name and middle initial?

10. As a boy, George has an after school job at Old Man Gower’s drug store. Mr. Gower receives a telegram telling him that his son has died. What was his son’s name?

11. How did Mr. Gower’s son die?

12. Drunk and grief-stricken over the death of his son, Mr. Gower mistakenly dispenses poison capsules and tells George to deliver them. George returns later without having delivered the capsules because he knew they were poison. Mr. Gower is initially angry at George for not delivering the capsules. How many times does Mr. Gower slap George?

13. What was George Bailey’s father’s first name?

14. What was the last name of Ernie, the cab driver?

15. What is the Bailey family’s housekeeper’s first name?

16. What year did George’s kid brother, Harry, graduate from high school?

17. George decides to go to the high school party, where he and Mary dance. What is Mary’s last name?

18. What is Mary’s older brother’s name?

29. What was the first and middle initial of Mary’s father?

20. What kind of dance contest did they have at the high school party?

21. What was the prize for winning the contest?

22. After the dance, where George and Mary fall into the swimming pool under the dance floor (by the way, that scene was filmed at an actual school with a swimming pool under the floor) George and Mary walk home. What is the name of the song they sing together?

23. George and Mary are wearing dry clothing they got from the high school locker room. George has a football uniform on. What number is on the front of the uniform?

24. Mary’s robe has four letters on the back. What are they?

25. At one point in the walking home scene, George says: “What is it you want Mary? What do you want? Do you want the moon? Just say the word and I’ll throw a lasso around it and pull it down. Hey, that’s a pretty good idea. I’ll give you the moon Mary.” Mary replies: “I’ll take it. Then what?” To which George says: “Well then you could swallow it and it will all dissolve, see, and the moonbeams would shoot out ____ ___________ and _____ _________ and the ______ ____ _______."(fill in the seven words)

26. After George accidentally steps on Mary’s robe and it comes off, she hides in what kind of bush?

27. How old is Uncle Billy when his brother dies?

28. Besides Uncle Billy and George, there are two other employees of Bailey Brother’s Savings & Loan (I think they are Uncle Billy’s children). What is the first name of the man?

29. What is the first name of the woman employee?

30. George’s brother Harry comes back from college with a wife. Her first name is Ruth. What is her maiden name?

31. Ruth’s father has offered Harry a job. What business is her father in?

32. During the bank run scene, Miss Davis (played by the future Grandma Walton) asks George if she can have how much money?

33. George and Mary spend their honeymoon night in the old Granville house (at 320 Sycamore). They are serenaded by Bert the cop and Ernie the cab driver. After the song is over, one of them kisses the other on the forehead. Who kisses who?

34. After helping move the Martini family into their new home in Bailey Park, George and Mary present the family with three things. What are they?

35. Potter tells George he has frittered his life away playing nursemaid to a lot of “garlic eaters” and offers him a job with a three year contract making how much per year?

36. What notable thing did Mary’s brother do in World War II?

37. What did Mr. Potter do during World War II?

38. Why didn’t George go into the military during World War II?

39. Who was wounded in North Africa and got the Silver Star?

40. What is Violet’s last name?

41. How much money does Uncle Billy lose?

42. What is the name of the bartender at Martini’s Bar?

43. George and Mary have four children. ZuZu is the youngest. What are the names of the other three children?

44. ZuZu’s petals come from a flower she won at school. What kind of flower was it?

45. Where does George first pray for guidance from God after Potter turns down his plea for a loan?

46. What is the last name of the man who punches George in the face and knocks him to the floor after he prays the prayer?

47. At exactly what time on Christmas Eve does George “think seriously of throwing away God’s greatest gift?”

48. Where would Uncle Billy have ended up if George had never been born?

49. Uncle Billy’s wife is deceased. What was her first name?

50. Who does Clarence call to for help when Bert the cop tries to handcuff him?

51. What was the bank examiner’s name?

52. Where did the bank examiner want to spend Christmas?

53. At the end of the movie, all of George’s friends come to the Bailey home to help George with donations of money. What Christmas song do they sing?

54. When Violet shows up at the Bailey home, she returns the money George had given her to go to New York City. She tells George she changed her mind. The movie then shows George silently mouthing two words. What are the words?

55. On top of the pile of money his friends have given him, George finds Clarence’s book. Inside the book Clarence has written: “Dear George, Remember no man is a failure who has friends. What was the title of Clarence’s book

56. There is one scene in the movie where a dog is barking. And if you look closely, you can see part of the dog, but only for a split second. Where does this scene take place?

57. How old was Uncle Billy when he and George’s father started the Savings & Loan?

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UPDATE 2011— It was my original intention to provide another blog entry with answers to these questions but I don't know if I will ever get to it. Looking down through these questions now, I realize I have forgotten some answers. I'll be watching for them when my family watches the movie again this year.
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