Vast Sprawling Putrescences

Dateline: 30 June 2005

I’m still thinking about Dag Hammarskjold School #6, and cities, and how I dislike them so...

Howard King, author of A Christian-Agrarian Critique of Technological Society, refers to cities as Vast Sprawling Putrescences. My, but Mr. King does have a way with words.

I had to consult my dictionary, four times, after reading that. It was there I discovered Putrescence is the condition of being putrescent. Putrescent is defined as putrefying. Putrefy is to make putrid. Putrid means: 1.) decomposed; rotten and foul smelling 2.) morally corrupt; depraved 3.) very disagreeable.

Uh huh. Yup. That nails it right on the head.

King has much more to say about cities in his writings. For example, he asserts that one of the foundational tenants of Biblical Agrarianism is decentralization. Cities are, of course, not an example of decentralization. On the contrary, they are the epitome of centralization, and therefore inimical to God’s design.

King observes that the ungodly civilizations of the Old Testament were invariably built up around cities (“And they said... let us build us a city... and let us make us a name, lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth” Gen. 11:4). Nimrod’s Babylon is the classic example. Sodom and Gomorra also come to mind. King says:

”The ancient walled city of the Bible had the most in common with the modern city. It was most often a center of apostasy, a base for imperialism, a treasure-house for plundering tyrants, a monument to human pride, vainglory and rebellion against God... The city provides no ideal for culture, since it is opposed to biblical culture. Like Babel, the prototype, it has been erected in defiance of God’s design for a decentralized agrarian civilization.”

At this point, you may wonder, what exactly would God’s design for a decentralized biblical Agrarian civilization look like? King answers this by looking to the historical prototype, prior to that incredible cultural tidal wave known as the Industrial Revolution (circa 1830). In America, at least, this Agrarianism was preponderantly biblical. Here’s Mr. King again:

”In spite of the mighty builders of cities and empires, the agrarian village was the hub of most men’s existence. Here, in the countryside, the small community flourished, with a modest division of labor and a minimum of external government. Self-sufficient, but not rich, supported by the produce of the numerous family farms and grazing lands that surrounded it, the rural village was the principal place of commerce and learning and public life for the common man through most of human history.

That is, until the advent of industrialization and the modern city. During the nineteenth century, the greatest social upheaval since Babel took place. The industrial revolution revolutionized more than the means of production. In fact, human society was altered in drastic ways as nearly every institution was redefined in terms of a radical materialism.”

Did you catch that last part?... nearly every institution was redefined. I dare say, these institutions (including the family and the church) were not redefined in a good way.

I don’t necessarily agree with all of Mr. King’s writings but I’m much more in agreement than I am disagreement. I find his thoughts on Biblical Agrarianism to be provocative, fascinating and refreshing.

Sunday Ruminations

Dateline: 26 June 2005

I think that, when I write a Blog entry on Sundays, it will be “Bits & Pieces” of commentary. For example...

What’s An Agrarian

I’ve received a few e-mail messages from folks who have visited The Deliberate Agrarian and told me they are enjoying it. One person asked me what an Agrarian is. I hope to address that question in the future.

Duncan’s War

My 17 year old son, Roy, has just finished readingDuncan’s War, by Douglas Bond. I bought the book a couple years ago, intending to read it to the kids.

I’ve been after Roy to read it on his own; to give it a fair chance. He finally got into it and, lo and behold, liked it. He finished it today and asked me if I would get him the next book in the Crown & Covenant series, King’s Arrow. I was delighted to hear this, and will order it right away. I’ll also get Rebel’s Keep, the third and final book in the series.

No More Fishing

My two youngest sons love to fish. It is not something they got from me because, truth be told, I ‘m not much of a fisherman. They have been fishing at a farm pond about a half mile from our house. Many an afternoon has been spent on the shores of this pond, sometimes with a couple of their friends who live down the road. They typically walk there, poles and bait in hand. Sometimes we go and pick them up, and sometimes they walk home. They catch & release, and come home with great fish stories. It is not unusual to hook a 12” bass. This fishing hole has been a great blessing to my children.

Unfortunately, that all came to an end today. The elderly woman who owns the farm told Marlene that she did not want the kids fishing there anymore. She is concerned about liability. My boys are heartbroken. I am too.

I Heard The Bark

As I got out of the shower this morning, I heard a very strange call.... it was The Bark of The Bog Owl, coming from my living room. It put a smile on my face to hear my two sons practicing the call. It sounds like this:


And I also heard the “exuberant, singsong battle yell of the feechiefolk”:


We are hoping to get the next book in the trilogy, The Secret of The Swamp King,in the mail this coming week.

Today’s Sermon

Today in church, our pastor, Jim Main, preached on the subject of “Learning To Pray.” He said that Christians should be a “temple of prayer” and that we need to pray intelligently. But (and this is something I had never thought of before) How do you talk intelligently to the One who created all and knows all?

He said that the answer was to ask the right questions and listen for that still quiet voice with which God typically speaks to His children. Two of the questions he said we should be asking are: Lord, what are you trying to teach me through the things that are happening to me in my life (the trials), and who would you have me pray for? He ended by making the point that God works to transform the lives of unbelieving people through the prayers of Believers.

Billy Graham

I heard Billy Graham (on the radio) speak during the first night of his current crusade in NY City. I have heard other Christians criticize Billy Graham for various things over the years, but he has always been special to me.

When I was 14 years old, living in the suburbs outside Syracuse, N.Y., I remember watching a Billy Graham Crusade on television for a few night nights with my mom and dad. God used Billy Graham as the instrument to explain to me that I was a sinner, condemned to Hell. And I saw clearly that, in His great mercy, God provided a means (the only means) of salvation through the shed blood of His son, Jesus Christ. This is something that can not be truly understood apart from God, in His providence, revealing it to an individual.

All of which makes me think of Pastor Main’s sermon today. It is very likely that someone was praying for me before I came to know God’s salvation. I believe it was my grandmother Philbrick. I believe she was praying for her children (of which my mother was one of many) and her grandchildren. Maybe it was also someone (or ones) I don’t know. Maybe it was a great, great, great grandfather, praying for the generations to follow him.

This is the substance of powerful Christianity. It is something to consider.


After reading the story, My Son Bought An Axe, Marlene commented to me that she did not know we had a son named Paul. I told her that I’ve given the children pseudonyms. One can never be too careful these days. I’m particularly sensitive to these concerns because of my “regular” job, which I’ll tell you about someday.

Scott Terry’s Blog

If you haven’t been over to Homesteader Life, I encourage you to do so. Scott’s Blog was my inspiration for starting The Deliberate Agrarian.

Desperate Agrarian?

Dateline: 23 June 2005

I told my wife, Marlene, that I had started my own Blog. But I did not tell her the name. Yesterday, while I was at work, she found the bookmark for The Deliberate Agrarian and came here to read my first few days of Blog entries.

Later, when I came home, during a family discussion of the day’s events, the subject of dad’s new blog came up. One of my children asked what the name of the Blog was. My wife replied, with a perfectly straight face, ”The Desperate Agrarian”.

I thought she was cracking a joke; making fun of the title. But she wasn’t. One of the kids then asked “What’s a desperate agrarian?” That’s when I piped in, a little exasperated, “It’s not the Desperate Agrarian, it’s The Deliberate Agrarian!”

With a shocked look on her face, Marlene exclaimed, “Oh! Did I really say desperate? I meant deliberate.” She quickly apologized and started laughing. I did too. It was funny. Good one, Marlene.

I have to say, this mistake on my dear wife’s part got me to thinking...... could it be that I really am a Desperate Agrarian? I headed for the dictionary....

I discovered that desperate means: “Having so little hope for improvement as to cause despair.” Then, while I was at it, I flipped ahead a few pages to the word, deliberate: “Carefully thought out or formed, premeditated, done on purpose.” Another definition was “slow, unhurried.”

I think it is a very good thing to define and understand these terms. And it made me feel better because I now know for certain that I am not a desperate agrarian. I am, most assuredly, a Deliberate Agrarian.

That said, I will admit that I do desire to live a much more agrarian lifestyle than I now do. As Marlene knows, I yearn for more land, and to stay home full time to work the land with my boys. And I know she yearns to have a big farm house. But we are not desperate.

We are actually very, very aware of, and thankful for, the blessings we have. Our house, though small (three boys in one room), is a home, in the finest sense of the word. Our land is small (one and a half acres) but it is sufficient to do a remarkable lot with, and we are not slaves to debt (which means, it’s paid for).

Furthermore, we are surrounded by woods and fields, with only one neighbor in sight, up the road. Our children are well adjusted, well behaved, well loved, and growing in their Christian faith. We work together as a family to produce our own food, take care of animals, chop wood, and do all the other things that, as I mentioned in my first Blog entry, make a life rich.

These things are done deliberately because this Agrarian Vision is, I believe, the vision God has given me for my family. It is for here and now.... kind of a “bloom where you’re planted” thing.

Oh sure, as I said, I’d like more, but I refuse to be consumed by desire (that is what leads to despair). Instead, I lift the desires of my heart up to the God of the universe, the One who has promised to meet every need of His children (and every need is met!), and I take comfort that Providence will dictate what is best for this family.

Perhaps I will never own more acreage. Perhaps I will always have to work away from home. Perhaps we will never have a bigger house. If so, I am okay with it.

Nevertheless, let me make it clear that I also will continue to work, and save, and plan in a deliberate manner, consistent with my beliefs.

I think that is what Christian Agrarian contentment is all about. I do not think, within the earthly realm, it gets much better than this.....

The Bark of The Bog Owl

Dateline: 22 June 2005

Reading books aloud to your children is a wonderful family pastime. By reading the right books, you can convey important moral lessons. I enjoy reading to my boys and they sure do enjoy being read to. But, truth be told, I do not do this often enough.

I was convicted (once again) of this sorry shortcoming on my part a few weeks ago after attending the yearly homeschool convention in Syracuse, New York. Marlene and I have gone to this event for many years (I wouldn’t miss it!), and every year I come away feeling like I have really fallen short of the mark when it comes to being a good father. But, on the flip side of the coin, I also get energized and inspired to be a better father. And I buy books. I’m always buying books.

One of the speakers at this year’s conference mentioned
The Bark of The Bog Owl, a book that he was then reading to his younger sons. He said they were all enjoying it very much. So I bought a copy.

Last night I finished reading this book to my two youngest boys (ages 11 and 14). I can tell you, without the slightest hesitation, that this is a great little book. My boys loved it and so did I. In fact, David, the 14 year old, told me he plans to read it again on his own.

The story takes place long ago in the island kingdom of Corenwald. The main character is 12-year-old Aiden Errolson. Aiden’s father is one of the nobles of Corenwald. Aiden spends his days tending his father’s flock of sheep (they are Agrarians!) and imagines himself doing brave deeds for the king (King Darrow) and the kingdom, just as his father did in years past when Corenwald was attacked by the Prythens, an ungodly people that vastly outnumber the Corenwalders.

Well, the Prythens try a new ploy to overtake Corenwald and Aiden gets his chance. I’ll not tell you what he does and the many adventures he has along the way. Suffice it to say that young Aiden’s noble character and his faith in “The One True God,” are what gives him the conviction and courage to do the right thing when faced with difficult decisions, even if it means losing his life as a result. Furthermore, young Aiden always does what is right even when it is not the popular thing to do.

The story has plenty of action and suspense, and humor too. It holds your attention and the end of every chapter leaves you wanting to know what happens next. The chapters are short, the story line easy to follow and there are no witches or magic or otherworldly creatures.

If you have young sons (or grandsons, get this book and read it to them. They’ll love you for it.

Oh, one more thing..... this book is the first of what is called The Wilderking Trilogy. The second book, The Secret of The Swamp King, will hopefully arrive in my mailbox soon. The third book has not yet been written.

How Not To Shoot The Bull

Dateline: 20 June 2005

In the green Owasco Valley, ‘neath the sky so blue, stands, beloved, the little rural village of Moravia, New York. I happen to live in the hills six miles outside the village, but this is not a story about me.

If you turn off North Main Street in Moravia and go a half mile up Oak Hill Road, you will find Owasco Meat Company on the left. It is a white concrete-block building. It is the place where country folks from these parts take their animals to be “processed,” which is a polite word for “butchered” or (gasp!) “slaughtered.”

Last Month, on a sunny Sunday morning, two men were attempting to unload a one-ton bull from a truck at the Meat Company. None too cooperative, the bull managed to break free of its handlers. It hoofed right on down into the village.

Moravia was unusually busy that morning. The last of 100 bicycle racers had made their way south on Main Street mere seconds before the bull appeared on the scene. Mr. Bull was moving along “at a full trot,” according to one eye witness.

With the bike race going through, there was more law enforcement on hand than would normally be the case. Sheriff’s deputies responded. Now here’s where the story gets a little sketchy. But I’m confident that my facts are, for the most part, accurate.....

Mr. Bull made his way into the parking lot behind the bank, and was intercepted by The Law. My understanding is that an officer pulled his patrol car up alongside the bull and fired several shots into the animal’s neck with his sidearm.

This action did not have the desired effect, at all. Fact is, it made matters considerably worse because now Mr. Bull was really upset. The chase was on. Out came the M16 rifles.

Deputies again intercepted the fugitive across town on Central Avenue. They attempted to corral Mr. Bull with their patrol cars. After inflicting considerable damage to the vehicles (and absorbing several more rounds of ammo), the creature took off back for the other side of town, where he had already been.

It was there, in his back yard, on East Cayuga Street, that assistant fire chief, Greg Genson, met the beast with a 12-gauge shotgun. Mr. Genson slew the creature with a single shot to its head. The terrorist animal would no longer wreak carnage on the peaceful village; Moravia was safe again. I’m told it made the national news.

One farmer I know, related to me (with a big guffaw) that they could probably have saved all those bullets (depending on who you ask, 12 to 17 shots were fired into the animal) if they had just used a bucket of grain to catch the bull. 

I’m not so sure. I’ve seen an angry bull. An angry bull is a very dangerous thing. So I don’t fault The Law for attempting to euthanize (which is a polite word for “kill”) the bull. I am, however, amazed that none of the officers who confronted the beast knew how to properly put it down. Obviously, these men were not agrarians. City cops probably.

In case you ever find yourself in a situation where you must shoot a bull (or some other large farm mammal), let me tell you the right way to do the job. It is the Agrarian way; simple, deliberate, intelligent, effective, and humane. Do this.....

Visualize the X formed by an imaginary line going from the animal’s right ear to its left eye, and from its left ear to its right eye. Got the picture? Good. Now, the center of the X will be in the center of the forehead, just above the eyes. Shoot at the center of the X. One shot.

The giant’s knees will buckle and it will drop dead in a heap right where it stood. I have seen this done, with a 22 caliber rifle (at close range). A 12-gauge shotgun slug will surely do it. I understand a sledge hammer to the same spot will work too.

My Father's World On Father's Day

Dateline: 19 June 2005

Today is Sunday and it is also Father’s Day, 2005. As is our custom, Marlene and I and our three boys went to church. One of the hymns we sang was This is My Father’s World, written by Maltbie D. Babcock.

I know I have sung this hymn in church before, but today I noticed the words like never before. I leaned over to Marlene and wispered in her ear that I thought it was a beautiful song. She nodded in agreement and told me it is one of her favorites. And then she reminded me that it was one of the songs she selected to be sung at her father’s funeral. I did not remember.

I have printed the words of this song below. They speak of the Glory of the Soverign Father expressed through His creation. Here's wishing you and yours a wonderful Father's Day...

This is my Father's world,
and to my listening ears
all nature sings and round me rings
the music of the spheres.
This is my Father's world:
I rest me in the thought
of rocks and trees, of skies and seas,
his hands the wonders wrought.

This is my Father's world,
the birds their carols raise,
the morning light, the lily white,
declare their Maker's praise.
This is my Father's world:
he shines in all that's fair;
in the rustling grass I hear him pass;
he speaks to me everywhere.

This is my Father's world,
O let me ne'er forget
that though the wrong seems oft so strong,
God is the ruler yet.
This is my Father's world:
the battle is not done,
Jesus, who died, shall be satisfied,
and earth and heaven be one.

The Ruminations Begin

Dateline: 18 June 2005

I am an Agrarian. Specifically, I am a Christian Agrarian. I believe that God intended for His people to live their lives and raise their families for His glory within the agrarian paradigm.

That is why I eschew the city and live out in the countryside. That is why my wife, The Lovely Marlene, and I homeschool our three boys (ages 11 to 17) . That is why we teach our children to acknowledge the Sovereign Lord of All Creation as the Sovereign Lord of All Creation. That is why we look to His grace every day and give thanks for the good times as well as the hard times (a.k.a., the teaching times). That is why we have a garden. That is why we keep hens for eggs (and entertainment!). That is why we make our own maple syrup. It is why we grind wheat “berries” into flour, from which Marlene makes the best homemade breads that you’ll ever taste. That is why we do these things and so many other such things.

This kind of lifestyle, this kind of work, can give a life richness. If pursued with humility and wisdom, in a spirit of love, this is the kind of life that will make a family strong and be a remarkable witness to the goodness of a merciful God.

To live this kind of life is to be a blessing to the community around you in the here-and-now, and to the generations that will follow you. This is the kind of life that, amidst the pervasive, shallow, false promises of the dying Industrial Culture we live in, is a beacon of light. It is a way of life that, very simply, offers hope, peace, and contentment like nothing else.

So, look at that!..... Here I am, a simple rural blogger, beginning the “Ruminations” by speaking like a philosopher. But, you know, I think that is entirely appropriate for a Deliberate Agrarian.

Fortunately for one like myself (who really is not a particularly deep thinker), the precious riches of this “philosophy” can be clearly seen and easily grasped... and they sparkle brightly.

I invite you, dear reader, to come here often in the days ahead. Lord willing, we will find treasures together. I will share with you the life, work, hope, struggles, lessons, thoughts, prayers, and blessings that come into the life and times of this Deliberate Agrarian.

It is my great desire that you will be inspired and blessed along the way.