The whole point of free speech is not to make ideas exempt from criticism but to expose them to it.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Why National Parks are right with God

I grabbed the photo above from Black Hills Travel Blog. Please go visit there, by clicking here.

Years ago, when my teen-aged sister was having a crisis of faith because our babysitter/housekeeper had told us that we were going to go to Hell if we weren't baptized and confirmed in a church, she was tagging along with her friends to various churches.

And so on Sunday mornings, my mom would haul my sister to whatever church she was attending that week, and my dad would load me up and haul me to his church...Rapid Creek, shown above near Black Fox Campground. Back then it was just "the beaver dams."

Now, my father read the Bible nearly every day. And since his death, in 1981, his Bible has been on my nightstand and has become more tattered over the years. My father simply didn't have much use for religion. Oh, he was perfectly comfortable with God.

My father could flat deal with a shotgun. And, a spinning rod and reel were his slaves. But the 1 - 2 rhythm of a fly rod was among his greater challenges. And, with such a teacher, I would have to wait until my friend Don Polovich could teach it to me years later.

Yet, we would go to Rapid Creek with our fly rods armed with flies I had tied in my basement with the help of former Rapid City Realtor Bob Moore. And we would go often. And every time we went, my father would discuss the poor saps who found themselves henpecked enough to subject themselves to a lecture by a preacher with his hand out.

"Look up," he used to say. "That's God's cathedral." The seventh day is for rest, he used to tell me. And, there's nothing restful about a church pew and the sound of that money plate coming your way.

"It's easy to believe in God, isn't it Mike?" he'd ask. "Just look around you and tell me how you would make anything you see. This is God's gift."

So many of my conservative friends have told me that the National Park system is a waste of tax dollars. And, I think of my Dad, an extreme conservative, with his fly rod in his hand, slapping the water and rarely hooking a fish. And I think some of my conservative friends would sell this country's public lands – "God's Cathedral" – for the money they could make.

Another appeal to watch Ken Burns documentaries on our National Park system on PBS, nightly this week.


caheidelberger said...

Thoughtful and thought-provoking. Thank you. I'll keep putting my money in the national parks' plate.

(But if the national parks are part of God's Cathedral, could someone run a "separation of church and state" argument? ;-) )

Bob Ellis said...

It's a pity that in all your father's daily Bible readings, somehow he never stumbled across Hebrews 10:25

Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

Or Psalm 122:1

I rejoiced with those who said to me, "Let us go to the house of the LORD."

Had he stumbled across these passages, perhaps he and you would have less disdain for God's church and the bride of Christ.

caheidelberger said...

For Pete's sake, Bob, lighten up! I take Michael at his word that the man knew God as well as anyone. He loved God's creation. Anyone who has a problem with that needs to go fishing.

Michael Sanborn said...


So my father and I met together in the House of the Lord. And we on occasion stumbled upon other parishioners up to their knees and looking for a rise. Plenty of timber to make this church. Not so many nails.

The parks are part of God's Cathedral to me, and were to my father. They may be something quite different to you. No need to parse the separation argument.

And you are correct. Bob needs to learn to fly fish, on Sunday morning. If that doesn't bring him closer to God, little will.

Michael Sanborn said...

And Bob,
I've said many times that one can cherry pick the Bible and justify almost anything.

Thank you for reminding me of Hebrews 10:25 and Psalm 122:1.

There are probably a lot of things my father read in the Bible differently than you do.

Thank heavens my father did not do all the things that are suggested to be acceptable in The Bible. My sister is particularly grateful that he did not take advantage of Exodus 21:7.

And then there's the whole book of Leviticus! Whoo Boy!

Neither of your cherries can be viewed as a commandment. My father simply chose a different church.

A couple of kindnesses, Bob. Kindly don't pity my father. He's dead and your pity is as wasted on him today as it would have been were he alive to kindly smile on you and thank your for your concern.

I know you are a student of the Bible and you are welcome to post from it here. I personally wish that if you are going to do so, please do it from the King James as opposed to the Nearly Inspired Version (NIV).

Bill Fleming said...

Seems to me that almost all the important stuff in the Bible happened outside. I mean, Adam and Eve, The parting of the Dead Sea, The 10 Commandments, The Virgin Birth (well, pretty much outside...), The Sermon on the Mount, the Crucifixion, The Ascension (depending on which book you read).

Any exceptions, Bob? Any really cool stuff happening in church in the Good Book?

Is the Last Judgement gonna go down in a church?

Or outside?

If inside, it'll have to be a pretty big church, I'm thinkin'. Maybe St. Peters? Or are you thinkin' one of these suckers?

caheidelberger said...

No problem, Michael. We both love the cathedral. And if anyone tries to sell it or tear it down, I'll be right beside you, fighting to defend what your father treasured. It sounds like he understood what matters: enjoying, appreciating, using, and protecting the natural environment of a beautiful planet that can outlast our fleeting lives.

Michael Sanborn said...

My ol' man loved the Black Hills. He reluctantly left them in 1969 and only got to return once after I moved back to them.

And, he loved God. And, he thanked him every day for the gifts he received here on the planet and tried his best to not defile those gifts.

He never discussed God's anger or vengence and he frequently reminded me that all the gold and property on earth was His before it was anybody else's, and would be His again in the end.