samedi, octobre 27, 2007

The last herd in Wallace

This is a story about "lasts"-and it's about township politics.

When we first moved out here, I noticed a large animal veterinarian who has an office about a mile or so up the road from us. He may be, aside from the New Bolton Center, one of the last large animal doctors in Chester County. Jim travels around from farm to farm, but most of his work is done with large farms-farms that breed calves or are home to dairy cattle.

Knowing that I wanted to do a story on the anachronism of a Chester County large animal vet, and knowing he would be in the neighborhood, Jim gave me a call.

The rain was coming down much of the morning, alternating between a drizzle and downpour. I got lost on the road to the Heim farmstead.

When I finally found the barn, Heim and his son were helping the cows go through a cattle shute so that Jim could do a rectal exam to see how many months pregnant they were. Separated from their young calves, the cows bawled sadly. Little did they know it would be forever. When the calves are six months ago, they are sent off to a feed lot. Then they are either bred as dairy cattle or slaughtered. Even the mothers have a maximum life span of 15 years. They all end up as your dinner.

As I looked into the liquid black eyes of the momma cows, I was glad I don't eat meat.

Moving out of the shute after they are palpated, the cows go into another pasture. Buster, the cattle dog, makes sure they go fast. Jay Heim, who has farmed here for 20 years, is selling the cattle on November 17 of this year. He's working on a deal to sell his acreage to the developer who owns hundreds of acres just south of him. The Heim farm and the Greenfield land are Wallace's last big tracts of undeveloped pasture and woods.

The developer, Albert Greenfield Jr, has plans to build lots of houses for wealthy folks, and a golf course and resort.

Meanwhile, Heim says he and his wife will probably move out further into the country-away from increasingly congested Wallace. With all of the new zoning laws, he says, it's almost impossible for farmers to hang on to their land.

And so soon, Wallace Township shall only have one working farm left-Bethany Farm down the road from me in the other direction. When I saw Mr. Messner, who farms organically, I suggested he might want to start coming to township planning committee meetings. Maybe he can get himself listed as an endangered species.

jeudi, octobre 25, 2007

Who is in charge?

A friend wrote me today to say she wasn't a believing Christian anymore because of all the terrible stuff that happens in the world.

I need to ponder a bit before I write her back. She deserves that.

But I did wonder why the evil is so much more prevalent than the good-or is it that we give the evil more weight than the good? Or could it be that we don't see ourselves as lightbearing?

Possibly we don't take our own responsibilities seriously enough. AND perhaps we are so hurt by the horrible things that happen, because our souls know that we were designed to flourish in the light of God's goodness.

I grapple, as perhaps we all do, with such doubts. But I still believe there's a place for us Thomases in the Kingdom- and that God is in charge.

mercredi, octobre 24, 2007

Virtual wrestling

Yesterday I was the guest 'blogger on the Washington Post "On Balance" blog. My post is entitled "Clergy Moms."
The post got more than 200 comments. But, at least at the end, the posters, who seem to enjoy fighting with each other, were talking about issues that had little to do with my original post. Somehow Leslie has created a home for them at her blogsite. Lamentably but predictably, people feel much more comfortable insulting each other online than they do in person. Is the meanspirited, overly sensitive persona they strut online the person they really are? If that is the case, I assume they keep it under control the rest of the time, or we'd be in the same pickle as the ancient Romans-or Pompeiians. But there were also wonderful moments of grace-and I got the sympathy vote. It's amazing how many people have had bad experiences in churches-and might not have had other arenas in which to express their hurt.

lundi, octobre 22, 2007

You call yourself a what?

What does it mean to be a Christian? Or, put another way, what does it mean to follow Jesus? I've been feeling very uncomfortable, as though I have a splinter under my toe, since
I heard Frank Newport (of Gallup) interviewed recently.

Newport wasn't talking about Christians. His topic was politics.
Gallup pollsters report that, (although more people are found to be innocent by virtue of DNA testing) support for the death penalty is consistent-this latest poll found it to be around 69 percent. People also felt that the death penalty was morally acceptable. A lot of the folks interviewed also probably feel, as other polls show, that abortion is morally unacceptable.

I believe the sanctity of life arguement is a lot more credible if it includes all life. But my major problem is that nowhere, as far as I can fathom, in the New Testament, does Jesus, or St Paul call for shedding blood.

Jesus calls us to forgive, 70 x7, to turn the other cheek and to pray for our enemies. The Jesus of the Gospels doesn't mention homosexuality once, but he spends a lot of time suggesting his followers be nonviolent.

But most Christians apparently feel capital punishment is all right. Is this the church/state arguement-that its OK for the state to maintain the law?

But those polled apparently feel it's not only all right, but "morally acceptable." Is morality the province of the state?

So have we had a new revelation that allows us not to take him (Jesus) seriously? And if we don't, on this score, can we call ourselves Christian? If so, why?

Inquiring minds want to know. Maybe I've been missing something here.