Return to Eden

May 17th, 2017

While my body sleeps, my soul seeks for you
At the confluence of these two rivers-
that watery womb of this lush valley-
I find you, where I found you once before

In your eyes I see, predator and prey
I see the devourer and the devoured
We are, at once, excited and anxious
Wanting to feast, and be feasted upon

Your eyes invite me to taste your blood lips
That is all the invitation I need
Giving in, I let loose the locks of love
Longing once more for my paradise lost

Like a lion I seize you in my arms
Your legs entangle me like a boa
The heat of passion that burns between us
melts away the garments that conceal us

Kiss by kiss, bite by bite, you consume me

Come once more to me. Heal our heavy hearts
Unlock the gates. Let me enter Eden
into your secret and fertile garden.
Let us take our fill of the fruits of love

Let me kiss you. Let’s begin again.

Brenlee

May 17th, 2017

Brenlee
Through the lattice we can see-
Smiling down on you and me
With sparkling eyes of azure sea-
Our love. Our Joy. Our Destiny.
Our Brenlee.

SELF-CONTROL: A Dan Direach of Rialú Féin

April 13th, 2017

Forbearance and Temperance
Should be valued over wealth
Tward foes show force, tward ladies, love
And self-control tward thyself

Commander, command thyself
To subdue foes, thyself abate
For the greatest enemy
Is the one within thy gate

Abstain so you may protect
The honor of chaste women
Refrain thyself from offence
Restrain self indulgent men

Temperance is born of love-
Gentle, patient, tolerant
It bears, believes, hopes, endures
Love births in us forbearance

Those who would be chivalrous
Must keep this in remembrance
Bridle and saddle strength with
Forbearance and Temperance

MAJNUN: Masnavi of a Madman

April 10th, 2017

My kinsmen suggest I’m a madman possessed
drained daily by disquieted love, obsessed.

A love that your father resolved to oppress
And turned me away without hope of redress.

He foolishly gifted a jewel to a rose
And hid you away in the place undisclosed.

Therefore I withdrew from where I was reviled
Assigned to myself a wilderness exile.

I live now like Nebuchadnezzar of old
Wild beasts as my friends and a forest abode.

I ponder my poems as I pace near the ponds
Then scribble my sonnets in sand with a wand.

My Kinsmen, they pay me with drink and with food
to sing them my songs during festival moons.

I perform for the Lords- perform for the throngs
But they do not love me-love only my songs.

It is true I am mad- a hawk and a dove
A poor pining poet possessed by love.

As you are my Layla and I am your Qays
Ill love you forever and another day.

HONOR: A Dan Direach of Onoir

March 28th, 2017

Live by honor for glory
Do not, your clan, dishonor
For that which cannot be lost
Is a counterfeit honor

Knight to knight, the honor flows
when weary warriors wrangle
Guard one another’s glory
Like celtic chords entangled

When, in time, you chance upon
a chaste and lovely lady
In your virtues may she find
no shame and nothing shady

Ultimate, the judge is He,
whos kingdom is like leaven
kneeded into every knight
All honor comes from Heaven

Culminating this, our quest
We summarize our story
Embrace our chivalric code
Live by honor for glory

From a Governor LePage Supporter, on the Katahdin Woods and Waters National Munument

March 1st, 2017

Dear Governor LePage,

Thanks for taking the time to read this.
Before I share my feelings on the “Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument”, please understand who this feedback is coming from.

Although I’m an independent, when it comes to being a conservative, my record speaks for itself. I am a supporter of both LePage and Trump. I’ve always voted conservative.
I grew up as the son of a southern preacher in the bible belt of the south. I spent 6 years in the US Marine Reserves.
I have spent my entire adult life after the Marines as a citizen of the great State of Maine (20 plus years now). I have raised all six of my children here in this beautiful state. I also served the State of Maine for a time as a Maine State Forest Ranger in the Maine woods not far from the new national monument. I have risked life and limb to protect our country and to save national forests from wildfires. As I am sure you know, those national forests I risked my life to save from wildfires are often harvested for their timber.
So please don’t discount my heartfelt plea as just another critical liberal that opposes you.
Now to my point:

I humbly plea with you to withdraw your request to president Trump to rescind the creation of the Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument.

Timber has always been a large part of the Maine economy, and we all hope that it continues to be. But its primacy has decreased over the years with the waning needs for paper and other wood products. Maine has put “all its eggs in a basket” of timber that has been tipping for decades. It is long past time for us to further diversify the use of our natural resources.
Please consider that this monument was private land before it was given to our nation as a monument. Regardless of the politics of the owner, as conservatives, are we not for less government intrusion on private owner rights? When it was Quimby’s, was it not hers to do with what she wanted, within the purview of the regulations of our state? She had the right to shut off almost 90,000 acres from hunting and other recreational uses. Now we have assurances (from both Lucas St. Clair and the president that formed it) that those lands are now, and will remain, open to hunting and other recreational uses, even timber harvests.
Early reports are showing there has already been an economic uptick in the regional economy as a result of the monument. This trend, if given the chance, will continue. This is precisely the type of diversification our state so desperately needs.
I spent my formative years in the shadow of the Smoky Mountain National Park in Tennessee. Every weekend I would take my ‘65 Ford Fairlane and cruise the Main Streets of Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge- towns that have thrived as a result of the tourism brought to our backwoods region by the national park.
Indeed, even the townspeople around the beloved Yellowstone National Park were adamantly opposed to the creation of that park. But I assure you that, if you tried to take those parks from the surrounding towns now, you’d have to “pry it from their cold dead fingers.”
I would respectfully suggest that your current position will put you on the wrong side of history.

Our Maine Forest used to be owned by a few very large timber companies. Those days are gone. The severe forest fragmentation going on is robbing our children of a heritage that we all cherish. 150 years ago, Henry David Thoreau envisioned our Maine woods becoming a national park before our country had parks, so that-unlike in Europe- the people could have access to such beautiful places. If we don’t act soon, there will be nothing left to preserve except little pockets of unused swamps and marshes so fragmented from one another that they can do nothing in the way of providing habitat for the fauna and flora that God intended to call this state home.

It was a bold move by Obama to bypass Congress and conserve these lands as a monument. But let’s not throw the baby out with the bathwater, as we used to say. Just because a liberal administration stretched its authority to conserve this space, does not mean that it should not be conserved. It should.

I have explored the north Maine woods by dogsled, jeep, snowshoe, hiking boots and canoes over the past several years. It is the last great contiguous forest east of the Mississippi that is unprotected. Many argue that there are no great geographical features on the North Maine Woods that merit preserving. I’d suggest (as a 20 year transplant of this state) that those who say so have not explored its beauties, and are too nearsighted to see the potential beauty of creating for our children, glorious old growth forests that alone can be inhabited by the creatures God originally intended to call Maine home. As a conservative, as a Christian, we should care more for its conservation than anyone. This is our children’s heritage we are debating.

You are quoted as saying the creation of this monument is a “grave injustice to the people of Maine and the forest economy.”
To the second point of your comment I will say, first of all, that this monument will not end timber harvests in the monument region. Indeed, the Osceola National Forest I fought wildfires in, was not only a protected forest, but also a crop, that was routinely harvested. Secondly, When Quimby owned the land, was it not then closed off to our “forest economy.”
To your first point I will say, it is a grave injustice to future generations of Maine people, and the people of our great nation, not to preserve these beautiful places for posterity.

Governor, I know that you are not afraid of going against the tide of popular opinion. Perhaps this monument in particular, and the idea of a national park in general, is not popular. But I assure you, if we conservatives start to champion conserving land for our children and grandchildren, it will set us on the right side of history. So I plead with you to spearhead a movement to put the word “Conserve” back into “Conservative.”

Your servant,
Jonathan Nathaniel Hayes
BS Biology, University of Maine at Fort Kent
Studied Conservation Management, Antioch University, New Hampshire

Refugees and American Christians

June 29th, 2016

Dear Christian friends,
On the issue of the Refugee crisis from the “Muslim World” into our “Christian Countries” I have been noticeably silent. I have been troubled on this point for some time. Between researching scriptures and what God has been showing me through others, I have come to a conclusion on the matter and I feel it is time to share that with you.
Those of you that follow my articles know that I am an outspoken voice against Islam. In my writings I am clear that it is an ideology more dangerous to the world than Nazi fascism. (for more on this please check out my article entitled “If I were a Muslim…)
I have also spoken out for the defense of Christians suffering martyrdom at the hands of Islamists; advocating for military force when needed. I have stated clearly that Christianity is not a pacifist religion and defending the defenseless is within the bounds of our faith (for more on this please see my article entitled “Binding the strong man of the house)
So, before anyone discredits what I am about to say by claiming I have become so open minded that my brain has fallen out, please note that no one I know has been more outspoken on the above points in recent years than have I.
All of that said, It has become my firm conviction that Christians in “Christian nations” should be leading the way in welcoming refugees from nations torn by Islam. Please, read on with an open mind and allow me to share with you here, how I have come to this conclusion.
As one that has served in the U. S. Marines, I have a strong bent toward the ideals that “charity begins at home” and I agree whole heartedly that our veterans should not be neglected whilst we see to the needs of the impoverished from other countries. And in this modern political climate, it is easy to allow these separate issues to become one and the same when the attention span of most readers can handle little more than a quote on a Facebook meme (which makes the chances my readers will make it to the end of this article woefully slim).
I also feel strongly that we need to take precautions to ensure those coming here are ready to become Americans, and not to be a burr under our blanket. If you are going to enjoy the benefits of our blessed nation, then you must be willing to respect it; to stand when our anthem is played, to say the pledge of allegiance, to embrace the principles our nation is founded on.
But something of the knee jerk reaction from the Christian community to oppose the Arab refugees coming to America has rubbed me wrong from the start. Is it a fear of Islam taking over our countries? Is it an unconscious racism born from decades of war in Arab countries? I have been torn. And so I have held my peace.
When I moved to Washington DC a little over a year ago, I began attending and, eventually, joining the music team, of the National Community Church. A big part of that church’s outreach has been, and continues to be, to Middle Eastern refugees. I was not engaged in that ministry, but prayed that Id keep an open mind.
Also, about this time, I also met a Saudi Arabian minister that was traveling around America, sharing Christianity to refugees. She had escaped her family after accepting Christ, while they were in the UAE on for medical care. She had lived so much of her life in a burqa that she walked right passed her brother, unrecognized, because she was unveiled. A Middle Eastern version of the “underground railroad” helped her to escape through a series of countries and ultimately to America. To this day, she cannot use her real name for fear of repercussion.
Were these things placed, by God, in my life to soften my heart on the topic? As a military man, with an education in theology and a degree in Biology, I try not to let emotions, feelings or circumstances govern my ideals. To me, they must be tested and proven. And so I set about to dig into the facts and see what resulted.
I’ll innumerate how I have come to this conclusion by first showing some statistical evidence and, secondly, I will share what we should be gleaning from our Christian Scriptures on this topic.
I. Arab Conversions
The newest revival in Jihadism was as much a response to a dramatic spread of Christianity in the Arab world as it was to political and militaristic actions. My research has shown that prior to the formation of ISIS and their subsequent persecution of Christians in their regions, Christianity was spreading like wild fire, not by the “sword” but by the charity of Christians.
In the decade of the 2000’s it was estimated that more Muslims were converting to Christianity than in all the 1500 year history of Islam combined! During that decade more than 1 million Sudanese Muslims converted to Christianity, bringing that nation’s total Christian population to 5.5 million. Pakistan’s Christian population had grown to 2.5 to 3 million, with entire border villages converting to Christianity. Many of Egypt’s 2.5 million Christians were recent Muslim converts. Iraq’s “born again” Christian population grew from a known estimate of around 600 to 70,000 in the last decade. 24,000 of Iran’s 220,000 Christians in that decade were recent converts to Christianity. Even Saudi Arabia, home of Islam’s holiest city, had become 4% Christian.
1522CNS-IraqiChristiansWEB2
These mass conversions were taking place, not despite the suffering and persecution of Christians by Muslims in those countries, but because of it. It is a sad truth that the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church. The more darkness tries to extinguish the light of truth, the more that truth has spread. Whether or not this spread of Christianity continues, depends entirely on how we, as the the “body of Christ” respond to our current refugee crisis.
II. Prophetic times
We are living in prophetic times. But we, as Christians, are so stuck in our “Left Behind Series” theology that we are all missing what is so plainly unfolding before our eyes.
The book of Revelation prophecies of a time when Christians will be beheaded for refusing to deny Christ (Revelation chapter 6). It paints a picture of these martyrs in Heaven crying out to God for vengeance, asking
“How long How long, O [k]Lord, holy and true, [l]will You refrain from judging and avenging our blood on those who dwell on the earth?”
They are, rather given white robes to replace their bloodstained ones, and troubled to wait a little longer, while more of their brethren are martyred before judgment falls on the wicked.
Because of our evangelical movies and fiction novels, we have come to expect a “One World Order” in black helicopters and black uniforms to insist on a movie like antichrist allegiance. We have these pictures in our minds of French style guillotines for all who reject this antichrist and maintain allegiance to Christ.
This has made us blind to the fact that this passage is being fulfilled before our eyes. It is hard to avoid the scenes of Christians all over the middle east being decapitated by the sword for the very reason that they will not deny Christ. Why do we not recognize “the hour of our visitation?” Is it because they are Arabs and Africans? And not westerners like our fiction portrays? Is there yet some underlying racism amongst us? These are our brothers and our sisters, martyrs nobly living faith in the face of death and fulfilling the prophecies of the Bible.
Three judgments are prophesied of in the New testament. One is the “Bema Seat Judgment” where Christians are judged. The third is the “Great White Throne” judgment where all the dead, will stand before God and receive judgment. But the second is less known. It is the “Judgment of the Nations.” This judgment determines which nations will be able to enter into the millennial reign of Christ, intact as nations.
Jesus says, in the Gospel of Matthew 25, that in the battle of Armageddon, He will separate the nations like a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. Again, notice. This is a judgment of nations. Not individuals. That judgment comes later.
What is the criterion Jesus uses to separate the sheep nations from the goat nations? It could be argued that He basis this judgment on how they treat refugees!
To the sheep nations, He says,
‘Come, you who are blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in; naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me.’
The sheep nations reply,
‘Lord, when did we see You hungry, and feed You, or thirsty, and give You something to drink? And when did we see You a stranger, and invite You in, or naked, and clothe You? When did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ The King will answer and say to them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.’
To the goat nations He says,
‘Depart from Me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels; for I was hungry, and you gave Me nothing to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me nothing to drink; I was a stranger, and you did not invite Me in; naked, and you did not clothe Me; sick, and in prison, and you did not visit Me.’
The goat nations reply,
‘Lord, when did we see You hungry, or thirsty, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not [e]take care of You?’
Then He will answer them,
‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.’
I firmly believe that that we, as nations are being judged by how we treat the “least of these our brethren.”
I can hear my detractors now. “But these aren’t our brothers, Jonathan! They are our enemies.” But so many of them are. And so many of them will be, if we only display the charity our faith teaches!
To your rebuttal I will again ask us to honestly and circumspectly examine ourselves and our motives to ensure that anti Islam has not become anti Arab. Islam is the professed enemy of Christianity. It is true. But not the Arab people. We wrestle not against flesh and blood but against spiritual wickedness. These desperate families are not our enemies. The ideology that has enslaved them is.
Of course we must guard ourselves. Of course we must carefully screen everyone that enters our country. If someone isn’t willing to stand when our anthem is played, if someone isn’t willing to pledge allegiance to our flag, is someone isn’t willing to embrace the American governmental structure, then they should not be here.
Let us kill our enemies with kindness. Let us destroy our enemies by making them our brothers and sisters. Don’t allow the atheist and secularists to take the lead in the charity that has been the hallmark of our faith.
The smallest light can chase away the greatest darkness! What are we afraid of? (And I speak as one who also struggles with fear of loving like Jesus loves). Do we believe Islamic ideology will prevail? Of course not. Nothing suffers from examination but error. Let them live beside us in a republic where ideals can be openly explored and discussed, where Christianity is not persecuted. Let them see the love of Christ in us. Let us show them the grace and mercy He has shown us. And the light will continue to spread in darkness; and darkness can never extinguish light. We have a great opportunity to evangelize a people that have been shut off from us for 1500 years. Let’s not squander it.

Wilderness and the Christian Mind

May 9th, 2016

A Christian defense against the Book, Wilderness and the American Mind.
forest-cross
“Their Bible contained all they needed to know in order to hate the wilderness.”
-Roderick Frazier Nash, in “Wilderness & the American Mind”

My Macedonian Call
When I first decided to devote my further education and ministry to creation care and environmental theology, I received the same reply from countless people: “Have you read Nash?” “Have you read Wilderness and the American Mind?” I had heard of the book. It was required reading for my friends majoring in Environmental Studies at the University of Maine, where I studied Wildlife Biology and Zoology. In writing this book, Nash has dramatically shaped America’s conception of itself, its past, and its beliefs.
It was not until a couple years later, though, that I realized why so many brought this book to my attention. A friend of mine- an environmental student- came to my lecture at the University of Maine’s Scholar’s Symposium in 2012. When it was over, she brought me her copy of Wilderness and the American Mind. “The things you just presented, about Christian theology on conservation and ecology” she said, “are diametrically opposed to what Nash has said about Christianity and conservation. Will you please read what he wrote tell me your thoughts on it?”
I began working through her copy of the book right away. Most of what was underlined in my friend’s copy were the anti-christian accusatory statements of Nash, with her own comments written in the margins like, “Really?” and “Even God worked against the wilderness?” Whatever Nash had hoped to achieve with the first few chapters of his book, he certainly succeeded in undermining my friend’s faith, and making it seem beyond question that Christianity was the cause of western civilization’s devaluation of wilderness.
I sat down with her over coffee and explained why so much of what Nash says about Christianity in this book is wrong. But I feel it would be good to voice my criticism of “Wilderness and the American Mind” to the world. For I am certain that there are many others who have been mislead by his assertions.
This was a well written and perfectly timed book, to ride the wave of American consciousness into ecological awareness. Sadly, however, Roderick Nash built his work on a very poor foundation. This foundation was an all out attack on Christian theology. And a theologian, Nash is not.
It has been popular, in recent decades, for westerners in general, and American Christians in particular, to exercise a self-deprecating, self flagellating masochism. In recent years, no one has come to hate the middle classed evangelicals as much as themselves. In this new vogue, the greatest praise always goes to those who criticize their roots. Certainly there is much there to criticize. But let us not throw the baby out with the bathwater. Or,as my genetics professor was fond of saying, associating does not prove causation.
Syllogisms
Syllogisms are rhetorical devices used in logical argumentation. Syllogisms consist of three parts: Two independent facts that, when joined, form a third concluding fact. An example of a proper syllogism would be:
All dogs are canines.
Fido is a dog.
Therefore, Fido is a canine.

But syllogisms can be used to form incorrect conclusions, or “Syllogism Fallacies,” as they are called. An example of a syllogism fallacy would be the following:
Some televisions are black and white.
Zebras are black and white.
Therefore, some zebra’s are televisions.

I know this is a ridiculous example. But I will suggest to my reader that Nash’s treatment of Christianity and wilderness, is as ridiculous a syllogism fallacy as our tv zebras.
Nash’s unspoken syllogism is;
“Early Americans were Christians.
Early American’s didn’t value Wilderness.
Therefore, early Americans didnt value wilderness because they were Christians. “

Nash lays the blame for past generations apathy and disdain for nature squarely at the feet of Christianity. I hoped to work my way through this faulty foundation to his book, and then enjoy the rest of the book (as Christians are often forced to do in all forms of media). This proved impossible however, as it was a recurrent theme throughout.
The premise upon which he establishes the entirety of his work is that European colonists saw the wilderness as their nemesis. Since European colonists were from “Christian cultures” he makes the brash assumption that it must follow that their disdain for the wilderness stemmed from their Christian theology. He then goes about cherry picking and misappropriating random and inapplicable passages of scripture to support his bias to the biblically illiterate.
BC: Before Christ
He begins by doing a good job establishing the psyche behind primitive and classical man’s angst against the wilderness. He points out that being pitted against the elements and the wild beasts would naturally engender ideas of what is “good” and “bad” in the primal mind.
He then goes on then to discuss the evil monsters that lurked in the wilderness of Greek mythology. Again, in his exposition on central and northern European mythology, he argues that- in essence- wilderness is a place of evil.
But I feel certain that a strong case can be made to the contrary in each case. For we know that druidism and even early Celtic Christianity, for example, was very nature-centric in its theology. But an exploration of classical mythologies are beyond the scope of this essay.
Soon enough, Nash’s crosshairs come to rest, and Judaeo-Christianity is the recipient of his primary arsenal.
Defining “Wilderness”
His first error is in lumping the Old Testament words for desert and wasteland with the word wilderness. This would be forgivable if he did not know that these distinctions existed in the original language. But he tips his hand and reveals that he knows there are distinctions in these passages by saying, “in some cases the identical root” word is used. This statement, leads me to the sad conclusion that he has looked at the original language and the words used, but is counting on his reader’s biblical illiteracy. After setting this false premise, he can now use verses that use any of these words to call biblical theology into ecological question.
But before we go on to consider that very different words are translated “wilderness,” let us consider his statement that some of these words come from “the identical root.” Think of the ridiculousness of this when put into terms we all can understand. The words “kindness” and “unkind” have the same root. Do they not? And yet they do not mean the same thing, do they? In this way, he goes on to use biblical passages about rainless and desolate places as negative statements of wilderness when it is obviously speaking of desert. It is not that these places are evil, rather that they are inhospitable to human habitation.
“300 Words for Snow”
Allow me to set the record straight on the issue of Wilderness in the Christian Scriptures. Studies of the Sami people of the Scandinavian arctic have shown that they have nearly 300 different words for and snow and ice conditions. Why? Because it is where they live their daily lives. From the comfort of our modern climate controlled homes, we can lump it all in as snow, but to those who live and work in it, it is obvious that snow types are very different and can make travel easy or difficult, safe or hazardous.
Likewise, the people of biblical times lived in close proximity to “wilderness.” Hebrew scholars are clear that there is no Hebrew equivalent to our word, wilderness. Not because they were unfamiliar with it, but because the word is not descriptive enough to be of value to a people so intimately associated with it. They therefore had many words for various types of wilderness. The word wilderness itself appears nearly 300 times in the English Bible, and there are several Hebrew and Greek words that are translated into our English Bibles as “wilderness.” Let us look at a few.
The word “Midbar” means an uncultivated and uninhabited land that is good for grazing of domestic livestock alongside wild animals. But when it is translated into our Bibles, we only get the word, wilderness.
“Arabah” depicts a desert, but it is often translated into our Bibles as, “wilderness.”
The word “Yishimon,” translated as “wilderness” in our Bibles, would more be used to describe a land without any water for livestock and crops.
We also find the word “Eremos” translated wilderness in our Bible. This would literally translate to “an isolated place.”
On the flip side, this single word, Eremos, with some 48 occurrences in the New testament, is translated as desert, desolate, wilderness, open pasture, secluded, and unpopulated.
I point this out to show how reckless Nash’s treatment of this topic is. “He isn’t a Greek or Hebrew scholar. He was unaware of all these nuances!” you say? Precisely! He should not have based his work on a premise outside of his expertise, and lead so many astray with his poorly concealed hostility toward the faith of so many of his readers.

Nash’s Commentary on the Bible
In Judeo-Christian scriptures, “Even God changed the wilderness” Nash states disapprovingly. To illustrate, he references passages where God promises to open brooks, streams, and fountains into a now desolate and parched land. I understand and appreciate a desert ecology as much as the next naturalist, but if an “act of God” opens again the “floodgates” to allow water to restore life to a wilting ecosystem, how is this bad? Nash is really reaching in order to portray these passages as anything other than what they are: God restoring the ecology of a parched land. This “act of God” would not only serve to help humanity, but the plants and animals that also call the region home.
In the Bible the “Wilderness was the environment of Evil,” Nash preaches, “A kind of Hell.” He then seamlessly switches to references of what he calls “Hebraic folk imaginations” or Hebrew folk lore, not Hebrew scriptures, to illustrate his point: again, banking on his reader’s biblical ignorance. The unwitting reader would surely have been left with the idea that these ridiculous illustrations Nash sites are Biblical. The mythologies he sites are nowhere to be found in Judeo-Christian teaching, and yet these ancient and unknown folk tales are dredged up from the depths and presented as influential parts of the European colonists psyche. Then, without missing a beat, he throws out a scriptural reference as though he has been within the leather bindings of the Bible all along.
Next, his cavalier treatment of the scapegoat and theology of substitutionary atonement shows his true ignorance of the waters he has waded into so emphatically. Here, one will see that the words outside the quotation marks are far more directive than those within, and it becomes glaringly obvious that he has taken an eisegetical approach to Christian environmental theology.
In turning to the Garden of Eden story, Nash summarizes the Biblical narrative by wrongly paraphrasing that the trained and tame garden was paradise, while without was this evil desolate wilderness. Nash again is exposing His ignorance of Christian theology here. None of creation was evil. No place on the planet was “bad.” Sure, there was provision for man in the garden (and I’d like to see Nash make it through life without the benefits of a garden) but biblical teaching is that humanity’s later failure brought disorder to the created world. It was not Heaven within and Hell without. All the earth was as it should have been until the failings of man brought disorder. This is what the Bible teaches.

Genesis 1:28
“God blessed them; and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the [a]sky and over every living thing that [b]moves on the earth.”
On this passage, Nash postulates that the scripture Genesis 1:28 made “the fate of the (American) wilderness plain.”
In the scripture Nash is citing, God tells Adam and Eve to have children and to establish dominion over the earth. Again, Nash’s careless (at best), deceptive (at worst) and cavalier handling of scripture banks on a Biblical illiteracy of his reader. And, sadly, he has this in his favor, as few Christians know their Bible well enough to defend the faith from such assertions.
I cannot speak for the colonists. I am certain that some unlearned amongst them had the misconception of the mandate God gave Adam and Eve that Nash is setting forth here. But I assure you that this interpretation of the passage is misguided.
In Nash’s application of Genesis 1:28, a discerning eye can see a few faults. The primary fault is that it shows an ignorance to the fact that Lucifer (now known as Satan) was first given dominion over this planet in the time period referred to as the preadamic earth (or “before Adam”), by scholars. Under Lucifer’s reign, the planet fell into disarray as a result of his rebellion against God. God set forth to recreate the earth, and to set humanity up as the new and righteous rulers of the planet. This is called the “gap theory” by theologians. And it is supported by the same verse. Notice that God instructs Adam and eve to replenish (to fill again something that has been depleted) the earth.
The word “subdue” is Kabash and literally means to conquer or tame. The first king (Satan) was still present in this world, with his fallen followers. Therefore, God was, in effect, coronating man as the rulers of the planet, knowing that there was a battle yet to be waged before that lordship would be exercised. Man must first take from Lucifer what he had destroyed in his tyranny.
The word translated here as “domain” is Radah. It is used nine times in the Old Testament, and every time it is used in a military sense of ruling over an enemy. As has been shown, and will be shown, it is Lucifer (the “king of this world” as Jesus called him in John 12:31) in the earth, that must be conquered in order for the earth to enjoy it’s reign of peace.
Now I know the notion of humanity having lordship over the planet, rather than merely being part of the mosaic of the planets ecology, is unpalatable to many of my fellow environmentalists. But I will here again state what I have stated elsewhere, that it would be willful ignorance not to acknowledge that the human race has the greatest ability to work good or evil upon this planet. What other species could wipe out entire species from the planet at will, or to rescue another species from extinction? No other species has had the ability to heal and destroy the entire planet as we. With this power, comes great responsibility. A responsibility we have failed in, as a race.
How are we to have dominion over the earth? Well, ultimately, we are only representatives, caretakers of our Kings property. “The Earth is the Lords and the fullness therefore”, after all! So we should apply this word” Radah” in the same way God does. How does he? That answer we discover in Psalms 72:8, 12-14 where the Psalmist proclaims that God will rule (Rabash) from sea to sea and from the rivers to the ends of the earth, not for the purpose of subjugation alone, but so that he can “save the needy” and “rescue the oppressed” for they are “precious in his sight.”
His conquest is not as man’s conquest. His is a conquest of Love, Grace and Compassion. And as his active agents in the world, our dominion of earth must also be a conquest of Love, Grace, and Compassion. If a king is benevolent, His reign is praised. If he is a tyrant, he is despised.
“…creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now.” (Romans 8:21-22)
The Exodus
Moving to the Biblical Exodus narrative, Nash is forced to acknowledge that the wilderness served as a refuge from oppressive society and offered one the opportunity to draw closer to God. He discredits this though, by again superimposing his bias and saying that “ there was no fondness in the Hebraic tradition for the wilderness itself.” Has this man never read the Bible? As one who has spent his life studying it, I can testify that anyone who has would not come to Nash’s conclusion, unless it was their preconceived notion.
The fact of the matter is, as Nash is forced to concede, the Bible does offer the wilderness as a place of refuge and renewal, not an abode of evil. Those who withdrew themselves into the wilderness to become closer to God and to see His purpose for their lives reads like the “who’s who” of the Bible. Nash would have us believe that it was only the solitude they sought in wilderness. But this is not true. For solitude can be had within ones inner chamber of behind closed doors. No. The prophets of old withdrew themselves into the wilderness to be enveloped by the direct works of God’s hand. To remove oneself from a chair that a man built in a house that a man built protected from the elements and warmed by the hearth fire a man built, and to go out into the climate God controls, in the house God built and sit upon the chair of moss or stone that God has hewn, is to be nearer to God, not to be in the abode of evil. This, is the teaching of Christianity. “For from Him, through Him, to Him, are all things.” (Romans 11:36)
The Saints
Following this, Nash gives us examples of early Christian saints, prophets and teachers living in wilderness, loving wilderness, and advocating for wilderness, but insists to His readers that these pillars of our faith are outliers, exceptions. No, sir! Mr. Nash. They are the rule and not the exception; no matter how much damage this truth does to your thesis.
If the bias of Nash is not apparent to the reader by now, it soon will be. For Nash spends 8 pages proposing that Christianity is not a friend of the planet, and then he follows with only two pages of discourse on three other major world religions. Of course, Nash gives as poor support for his resounding praise of their theology as he has supported his disdain of Christianity. No fair, balanced and informed mind could read this and for a moment pretend Nash is even attempting an objective review of Christian theology.
Buddhism and Hinduism “emphasizes compassion for all living things” Nash lauds. “Chinese…sought out wild places in the hopes of sensing more clearly,,,the unity and rythem they believed pervaded all the universe.”
Dear reader, do not be fooled by his blatant bias. All of the aforementioned praises of other religions can readily and easily be shown factually to be true of Christianity! From Saint Basil to Stain Francis, who preached to the animals as equals to humans, to the Celtic Christian monks that stood in the icy north Atlantic waves as part of their meditations, so that they can be in unison with the rhythms of nature. And further back to those within the Bible that were protected by nature, and the prophets that were fed by the benevolence of the wild animals God used to sustain them. No, dear friends, the writer of Wilderness and the American Mind is on a mission to unfairly and deceitfully undermine the true Christian world view.
Nash gives one very long paragraph to describing a Chinese painters comments on man’s connectedness with nature and landscape. Although No such flattering grace is extended to the voluminous passages in Christian scripture, tradition and history on the same subject. Nash’s criticism of Christianity is four times as long as his praise for the other three world religions. So great is the wealth of pro- nature Christian teaching, and so little negative, that it must surely have been a concerted effort of an anti-Christian mind to have formulated the conclusions here presented. And the use of such sparse evidences as an Chinese artists comments to show the affection of nature in other traditions, this apologia demanded to be written.
If we had not been certain of Nash’s motives throughout the first chapter of his book, any doubt is erased in its conclusion, where he states emphatically that, “freed from the combined weight of classicism, Judeism and Christianity, eastern cultures did not fear or abhor wilderness. Nor did they feel the conflict between religion and appreciation of natural beauty…”
To this I must come to the conclusion that Nash himself is ignorant of Judeo-Christian theology. That he is a product of a generation of self deprecating westerners that so naively buy into the notion that the West has always had it all wrong, and the East has had it so right, that we must detest what we are and love what we are not.
As a Christian reader with a passion for wilderness, I felt relieved when I finally reached the end of His opening chapter. Taking a deep breath, I thought, “now I can enjoy the rest of the book’s offerings.” Those hopes were dashed, however, when I discovered that he picks up the antichristian theme again, just seven pages later.

Because of Christianity, Not despite it
I think Nash hit on the reality of the problem in chapter three and would have done well to have begun from the position he postulates there. The fact is that urbanites can appreciate wild beauty in the natural world, more easily than those pioneers who have to struggle with it to eke out a living from day to day.
Like a maiden taking pleasure in coddling an infant before returning the child to it’s mother when it screams for a diaper change; urban people can more easily romanticize the often savage realities of true nature and return to the comfort of their homes when it no longer suits their notions.
Pioneers felt the bite of the cold, the bite of the serpent, the squelching heat, the effects of drought on their crops, the effects of floods in their fields. So it would be far more difficult for those early settlers to romanticize the infant they loved, yet daily labored over. Like a sleep deprived mother in the dead of night hearing her screaming child awaken yet again; nature was not loved less, but not romanticized so much.
And so it was from those comfortable at their hearth, that Ameica begins its love affair with the wild as Nash rightly points out. But, again, Nash shows his bias by ignoring what seems to be glaringly obvious. It is the Christian community that begins the groundswell of praise for the American wilderness.
Men like Thaddeus Mason Harris, an 1805 Harvard educated minister that wrote, “There is something which impresses the mind with awe in the shade of silence of these vast forests. In the deep solitude. Alone with nature, where we converse with God.”
Men like Jeremy Belkin, a congregational minister who wrote of the New Hampshire White Mountains in 1784, “Almost everything in nature. Which can be supposed capable of inspiring ideas of the sublime and beautiful is here realized.” And went on to write, “the sublime in nature captivates while it awes, and charms while It elevates and expands the soul.
The truth is that America’s environmental consciousness springs from the Christians faith. Most of the early American nature writers and explorers were clergymen or devout Christians; many of which Nash cites in his early chapters!
Far from finding nature the abode of evil, these early Christian Americans saw it as a place of great inspiration! Consider the words of Charles Landham with me, when he wrote in 1846, “Those glorious forests, the home of solitude and silence, where I was want to be so happy alone with my God.”
Somehow Nash cites these men, with a straight face, hoping we will not make the connection! These men, and many others, sang the praises of nature because of their Christian faith, not despite it.
Theology in The Geography
The father of the American conservation movement, John Muir, said that nature is God’s first Temple, and to that I would add that, (according to the teachings of Scripture) wilderness is God’s first Book.
“The things of God are clearly seen by the things He has made…” (Romans 1:20)
“The devil is there in the wilderness” you say? Yes, but the Spirit of God, the voice of God, is there as well! The wilderness in the Bible represented all things intense. It was the place for intense experience, as it is today. Hunger, thirst, isolation, divine deliverance, renewal, self discovery and close encounters with God. According to scripture, these things seem to be facilitated by the natural environment. Theology itself is obtained in the geography of the wilderness, we discover in Scripture. At every critical juncture in the life of Jesus, you could find him in the Wilderness. The Spirit of God Speaks in the wilderness (Luke 3:2-4). The Revelations of Jesus came to John the revelator, when he was called out into the wilderness by the Spirit of God (Revelation 17:3, 21:10). John the Baptist was “the voice of one in the wilderness calling prepare you the way of the Lord.”
The Psalmist David removes all doubt as to the value, not only of cultivated land, but of wilderness, in Psalm 65:9-13 where he paints the picture of God, as though he is a benevolent gardener, tending to the entirety of the earth as his garden. There the psalmist says God waters the land and fills the streams with water, not only to give man grain and bless crops, but also to cause the wilderness and grasslands to overflow and with bounty and to be clothed in joy.
God used the wilderness to purify and test and strengthen His people, to develop their dependence on him as we see in Ezekiel 20:34-36, where he tells the people that he will call them too, out of the cities and into the wilderness, like he did their forefathers.
The conclusion, when all has been heard…
God chose, in His sovereignty to culminate the teachings of the Bible with the book entitled the “Revelation of Jesus Christ.” The only book of prophecy found in the New Testament, it is only here that we get a glimpse of what God intends His church’s relationship to be with wilderness. As I have already pointed out, this Revelation came to the Apostle John when the Spirit called him into the wilderness, but the greatest glimpse of Christian environmental theology is also here exposed.
In chapter 12 of Revelation we read of a pregnant woman clothed in the sun. She is a symbol of the bride of Christ- the church. A fiery dragon (Satan) draws a third of the stars of heaven (angels) with his tail. But this dragon knew the child being born would take His place as the “king of this world” so he sought to destroy the woman and her child. But the eagle gave her wings and she fled into the wilderness to be protected from evil. Please hear me reader, she did not run from the wilderness to the tamed cities, but ran from the cities into the protective arms of the wilderness. When the dragon discovered she was in the wilderness, he issues forth persecution like a flood of water against her and her child. It is here that we see the most amazing thing (and the most damaging to Nash’s narrative). The roles are reversed, and instead of the woman protecting the earth, the wilderness, rises up against the evils of Satan in the woman’s defense.
Far from being our adversary, we have been given stewardship over earths fragile beauty. And like those stewards in the parable of Jesus, we will be judged by how well we have cared for what God has entrusted us with. According to the Bible, All the earth groans under the weight of man’s sin. Longing for the day it will be partaker of the rebirth of the sons of God. And in our day, the earth is suffering the birth pains to bring this about (Romans 8:22). And someday, at the end of this age, when humanity is in its darkest hour, that which we have protected, will rise up as our protector. Like subjects willfully taking up arms in defense of their beloved king, Nature will come to the defense of those who have reigned tenderly over her.
Whether you buy into the prophecies of Scripture or no, it must be acknowledged that this is the teaching of Scripture. This is the teaching of Christianity.

The Knight and the Farmer

April 12th, 2016

Some men are like knightly warriors; fearless and bold.
They can be counted on to rise to any challenge.
They can be counted on to ride against the savage.
They can be counted on to protect their home stronghold.

They can be counted on to slay the fiery dragon.
They can be counted on to win the fiercest battle.
They can be counted on to save the distressed damsel.
Their lives are characterized by boldness and passion.

Some men are like farmers, diligent and consistent.
They can be counted on to keep daily life simple.
They can be counted on to make life predictable.
They can be counted on to grow gardens, persistent.

They don’t fight wars, so there is no need of victory.
They don’t stand in battle, so no enemy rises.
They don’t complicate life, so there are few surprises.
Their lives are characterized by calm stability.

Admittedly, the most appealing seems the farmer.
Life’s reality, however, is that enemies arise, unprovoked.
And it is well to have readied warriors, cloaked.
I can be both, her farmer and knightly warrior.

If given the chance, I’d pledge to her that I will be
the slayer of her dragons and shoveler of her snow.
I’ll fill her days with peace and vanquish every foe.
I’ll grow her garden, and build her fortress by the sea.

Every day- a life filled with charms and secure from harms.
I’ll rescue the damsel; and her crown I will fashion.
I will fill her life with stability and passion!
Until we draw our last breaths in one another’s arms.
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The Horsemen of El Cedro and the Westernization of the World.

March 5th, 2016

19th century dogsledding explorer, the first to climb Mount McKinley, Episcopal Missionary, and a hero of mine, Hudson Stuck once wrote:
“The time threatens when all the world will speak two or three great languages, when all the little tongues will be extinct and all the little peoples swallowed up, when all costume will be reduced to a dead level of blue jeans and shoddy and all strange customs abolished. The world will be a much less interesting world then… The advance of civilization would be a great thing to work for if we were quite sure what we meant by it and what its goal is.”
Hudson-Stuck
He wrote these words 120 years ago…
How prophetic were his words!? How prophetic, and how sad!
If only other missionaries of his time were so attuned as he to respecting local peoples and indigenous cultures- if they had all understood that the world must not be westernized to be Christianized!
I came to a great illumination concerning this while on a medical missions trip to Nicaragua that I’d like to share with you.
Since I had gone through a great sifting in my life- a great faith crisis- I had done little in the way of ministering to the needs of others. I had bought into the notion that a sick physician was little use in healing others. And I was spiritually sick; spiritually tired. I was asked to accompany a medical missions group to Nicaragua. I did not know why I was going, but I felt it was time I tried to reengage; to take my mind off of my personal struggles and focus on the needs of others.
This was to be the first missions trip I had ever participated in, although I had spent years doing inner city ministry. I had developed a rather cynical view of most missions trips like this- and even a bit of cynicism toward most missionaries. For the most part, I felt it much better to equip natives to do the work, than for westerners to go and do it. “Missio-Tourism” was my phrase for the throngs of Christians pouring in and out of third world countries for a couple week glorified vacation.
Our first few days there served to reaffirm my initial feelings. Each of our teammates had invested roughly $2,100 to be on this team. “What could the local pastors have accomplished, if we had sent them the $16,000?” I mused. And everyone in our group made a concerted effort to be unassuming and unpretentious. But wasn’t our coming to them to bring light to their darkness in itself a presumption that our American society was somehow better, lighter, than theirs?
As we worked through the capital of Managua and saw the poverty there, and then flew to the Miskito Coast and served in Bluefields and Puerto Cabezas, and there witnessed even greater poverty, another question began to nag at me. “Why are the countries of the northern latitudes so prosperous, when the equatorial countries of the world are, by and large so poor and sickly? Why, do they fight to feed themselves in a land where food literally fell from the trees, while countries in the far north of the planet have fared so well in such inhospitable climates- where the Earth begrudgingly offers up sustenance?” The answer to my question was to come to me on the second half of our mission- deep in the interior of Nicaragua.
Nicaragua school
Traveling out as far as we could from the capital of Nicaragua, by landrover, we then switched to horseback to reach the most remote homesteads and farms dotting the countryside. Our home base was a little village that is not to be found before or since on any map I have studied. It was the Village of El Cedro.
I know of no other surviving true horse culture, as what I experienced in El Cedro. With no permanent roads, no electricity, no gasoline, no cars, these people lived and died by their horses and their cattle.
My epiphany began during the journey, before we even reached the remote village. As one who had lived the homestead life off grid in Maine for a few years, I told my fellow travelers with a great degree of certainty, “I bet you the people we are about to meet will be the healthiest and happiest we have yet met in Nicaragua.”
My words proved true. These were, compared to the urban dwellers of Nicaragua, a very happy and healthy people. They were a people with no identity crisis. They were a people with a culture.
They smiled and laughed a lot. At first I thought they may be laughing at our peculiarities, but soon learned through observation, that this was their true nature. The men were affectionate to one another in a way western culture would find awkward. They would touch hands, lean on one another, and even put their arms around one another as they stood about and talkedto show their solidarity.
men of el cedro
Since I had arrived with my Tennessee cowboy hat and boots on, they assumed the American cowboy would know how to ride and paired me with the most spirited horse of our group. While I have grown up riding horses recreationally, I knew that, compared to these people that had grown up in the saddle, I knew nothing. They did seem pleased, however, that I rode hard with them, without fear, unlike many of the gringos they’d guided before.
“What is my horse’s name?” I asked the locals through the interpreter. They laughed. “Bestias.” came the reply. Beasts, in English; for they do not name or anthropomorphize their animals as we do.
El Cedro horse
They did, however, give me a nickname. And I was the only one of my group they gave a nickname too. “Chilé Pelón.” Roughly translated, Whitie. I was not sure whether or not to take offence but the guide assured me that it was a compliment- that they felt close enough to me to give me the name and not be so formal. The camaraderie became more apparent as the days went by, so I accepted the nickname with pride.
Chile Pelon
Because I was the only member of our group that had been a preacher, I was asked to speak on three occasions, in the local church. I refused at first, but I was becoming more aware of the reason God had brought me here. See, I had lived by the opinion that I had to somehow be whole again, before I could help others. What God was showing me in El Cedro, was that my healing was coming as I helped others. It was this, more than anything else that made me repent of my negativity about missions trips. Were we helping to fill a need? Yes. Were we encouraging the local believers by our presence? Absolutely. But a great truth, known to those who serve on these trips, is that the lives changed the most, are often not those in the third world countries, but the lives of the westerners going there to serve. And for me, God seemed to be saying, “You thought you needed to be well to serve, but it is through service that I will heal you.”
The other great truth that El Cedro taught me is that it is not for a lack of intellect, or ambition, or favor, that these cultures falter. It is because they have forsaken their way of life in an attempt to be like the Americans. Through our movies and our disposable goods, we have exported our western ways into cultures that thought themselves happy and rich before, and now have entered the race for the “latest and greatest” clothes and cell phones and technology.
Do not misinterpret my motives. I am not speaking against the western way of life, or capitalism, or any other earthly political or economic model. I am thankful for the structure we hold dear as Americans. What I am speaking against is the presumptuous naivety with which we have exported our way as the only way, to the rest of the world.
Many well meaning westerners (even missionaries) have unwittingly propagated the idea that “our way is better.” Not realizing that Christianization and westernization is not the same thing. Did we not see this with the Native Americans? Has Canada not seen it with the Inuit and First Nations peoples? A once proud and bold people, now, often struggling with an identity crisis?
Here is the seed thought Of Hudson Stuck, and what came to fruition in my spirit while living with the horsemen of El Cedro: The real beauty of the teachings of Jesus is its’ universality. Unlike other religions of the world, Christianity does not assign a certain type of dress. There are no dietary laws in Christianity. Christianity does not prescribe a certain language to be spoken in prayer and worship. Sadly, though, many missionaries of the past, missed this great truth. Preferring your neighbor over yourself, never letting them suffer want when you have excess, accepting Christ as your redeemer and loving God with all your heart, is a transcultural message.
El Cedro boy
In short, El Cedro taught me that the Kingdom is beautiful for the same reason Joseph’s coat was so illustrious- diversity.
So let us not repress diversity but celebrate it- sustain it- before, as Hudson Stuck prophesied, the whole world is reduced to two or three boring languages, blue jeans and button down shirts. Surely, as he said, the world will be a less interesting place without diversity. And surely the Kingdom of Heaven is enriched by diversity.
Our last day there, our group asked the women of the village to present their vision for the future of El Cedro. This was an intentional move to help empower the women. They were unified in their greatest desire for the village: they wanted a road that would be drivable, year-round, out of El Cedro to the major cities. It was a reasonable desire, born from the hearts of mothers- mothers with children that could die from a lack of access to emergency medical care at a well equipped hospital. In fact, we ended up evacuating the granddaughter of the village elder when we left the next day, to the nearest city, for medical care.
el cedro baby
I surely could not fault them in their desire for a road, and the road would surely come, eventually. But I knew that with that road, would come cars, electricity, entertainment, disposable goods, and ultimately, discontentment, materialism and poverty.
I prayed that night that, somehow, the people of the world would come to a place of harmony with the created world- that the women of El Cedro could have their road, without losing the El Cedro I’d fallen in love with.